#steamA2Z – F is for Fact-Based Evidence

Jacqueline: Hi. Our word today is fact-based evidence. F is for fact-based evidence. You’re probably thinking, “That’s a pretty known word,” but once you marinate it with the STEM filter, there’s a lot more to it than you think.

Image result for fact-based

Matter-of-fact, this topic is near and dear to me, because when you don’t use scientific evidence, scientific proof, then you’re basing decisions off of half-truths, off of superstition, off of just superficial information, assumptions or accusations. It’s just conjecture, hearsay, and rumors. People even just hand it down as folklore or what we call urban legend. You start depending on hope or luck or thinking things that happen are by some type of magic when in fact, there is an explanation and scientific evidence. It takes what we have coined in STEM as critical thinking or a critical mind.

There has been many family discussions where there was all of this back and forth, assumptions, conjectures, hearsay and everything I just named, and the conversation wasn’t really fact-based. Funny enough, with technology, now family discussions, arguments or disputes are quickly dissolved when everyone pulls out their smartphones and starts Googling, looking up, and pulling out their evidence. That’s exactly what it is. Instead of the discussion going on and on, people start looking for ways to research and find facts. So, technology has changed the way we have conversations at the dinner table. Furthermore, one reason this is a good thing is because it’s getting us to use deductive reasoning, to use if-then logic.

When you start building your mind and using your mind to look at the scientific evidence to build an argument, you may start out with a theory or hypothesis. Then, you gather your evidence and organize it in such a way that you can evaluate it and see trends, and then ultimately make your decisions. What it’s going to do is prepare you for better decision-making. This all ties into something you’ve all heard me talk about, which is my profession around business analysis—gather information and change raw data into information to help business, organization, and corporate leaders make decisions. Using that same style of thinking—critical thinking, scientific thinking, logical thinking—to make better decisions. Whether it’s your career, relationships, lifestyle or buying choices, this is key. Think about this topic as I expand upon it and show you how it’s used in the STEM world and in the scientific world.

How could you apply it to every day to help you make better decisions? People oftentimes make emotional decisions at the wrong time. They think with their heart and not their head when it comes to stuff like picking a mate that you’re going to live the rest of your life with, buying a car, buying a house, or even raising your children. You have to have that balance between the heart and the head. Furthermore, I think this topic lends itself to understanding better how science in the medicine and the pharmaceutical industries are presenting facts to us about medicine, procedures, and health benefits. Understanding what the research and evidence behind their claims are.

We all sit through hours worth of commercials whenever we’re sitting in front of the television, and they’re making all of these claims. Well, what is their evidence? If you’re like me, if something intrigues me on a television show, I’m going to the internet to find some facts. Facts not just about what they’re claiming, but I also like to look at other Image result for evidencecomments by people who have used it, complaints, the equivalent, their competitors. That’s how I do my research. They may give you a claim, but then you look for the evidence and use your reasoning ability, your critical thinking, to determine what to believe and what not to believe. This is also important, especially in the air where people are talking about false news. False news: someone’s making some type of claim, but what is the evidence to back it. It brings out the detective in you, and that’s a good thing.

As a matter-of-fact, parents, what you’ll see is kids get to a certain age where they start to question. There’s that certain age where they believe anything you say, you’re their superhero, and you can do no wrong. But then their minds start exploring and questioning. Parents, instead of stifling that, promote it, support it, and encourage it to an extent. Of course, as parents we have to make sure we draw that line between when to respect your elders. We need to find a balance between those two things. What you want to do is redirect that curiosity towards things that will help them from a learning perspective. There are some great programs.

You often hear me brag about BioLogue, which is by Gladys Bolding. She does science for girls, and she does Hodgepodge, hands-on-science, annually. Please support BioLogue and Gladys Bolding’s efforts to expand and expose young people in the Greater Atlanta community to science, especially from the perspective of a minority female that is very passionate and loves what she does in the area of biology and research. Visit our website for her link.

I’m going to wrap it all up by saying: get out there; research; get and understanding of what scientific evidence is. Question and do your own research. When you hear a fact or a claim, gather some evidence and use and apply reasoning, critical thinking, and then make your decisions. The bigger your decision and the more it has an impact on you, your life, your liberty, your pursuit of happiness, the more you need to do your own research. Don’t take other people’s opinion or hearsay or even folklore that’s handed down through the family. Get some fact-based evidence, even if you have to apply and do your own research by polling people. There are different types of scientific evidence gathering. You may hear things like “clinical trials.”

There’s “placebo control,” which is a study where you give a dummy sample to one group and you give another group the actual item. Where you hear about placebo control, you hear claims on TV about diet pills. So, one group they give the actual diet pill and another group they give just a water pill or sugar pill, a dummy pill, so to speak. If the group with the dummy pill actually loses more weight just because mentally they think they have a diet pill, that’s the placebo effect. It has been proven sometimes that the group with the dummy pill has more benefits than the ones with the actual pill. Sometimes it’s not the pill that has beneficial chemical properties to the loss of weight, but it’s just once you set in your mind that you think you’re supposed to be losing weight, then you will lose the weight. That’s the placebo effect.

I want to tie the clinical trial back to a company I actually worked for. It’s called a Clinical Research Organization (CRO). There’s a plethora of jobs and job opportunities. I worked in the IT department. There were project managers and plenty of people who had their chemistry and biology degrees, but instead of going into the medical field, they actually Image result for clinical research organizationworked in the lab with test tubes and cells. They did control studies, maybe on animals and then progression to humans. That’s a whole career field. Encourage in young people to do their research, and then help them explore career opportunities. Again, just because you have a degree in science or biology doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go into the medical field specifically, but there’s a whole range of research and clinical areas that are still very lucrative and in need of researchers like yourself.

So, go off and do some research and get you some evidence! Thanks for listening to today’s episode. I hope you got some information that may have sparked some interest. Stay tuned as we continue our STEM alphabet A2Z. Bye for now.

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