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Making good decisions #life


We all have to make decisions all the time, but how can we make good decisions. How can be decide who to vote for in elections? How can we make important decisions that affect us, our families and our community?


In medicine doctors are now using evidence to make life and death decisions. Evidence based practice (EBP) is widely thought to be better. Research is done and papers published and recommendations are made on best practice. You don’t want doctors making decisions based on socio-economic bias, but on hard evidence. Doctors and surgeons are also using evidence based check lists, just like airline pilots; so they follow a procedure that has been proven to be safe. Checklists also help them to not deviate from the procedure and leave their equipment inside the patient when they’re stitched up!

I’ve been helping students to write their papers and dissertations for the past few years and these too have to be evidence based. They have to quote other researchers and validate the argument they are putting forward. They have a procedure to follow too when writing their papers. For a dissertation, they will do research and back that up with evidence from other researchers whose papers they will quote. They will sometimes use interviews and include anecdotal research, but this is the least reliable evidence. Anecdotal evidence is very limited and is only useful to show that the outcome of evidence based research and it’s conclusions are plausible.

In the UK we have elections next month, so who do we vote for? We can look at the policies and read some research done by experts and come to certain conclusions. One politician who wants my vote is promising to get the town’s potholes filled. He is a Parliamentary candidate and the government has already released funds for repairing roads. The work is a local issue for local politicians. The other issue he is campaigning  on is parking. Again it’s a local issue for local politicians. Before parking charges I couldn’t get a parking space in town, after charges were introduced and time limits on parking; I could get a parking space. That is limited evidence, but suggests that the campaign to abolish parking charges is based on unreliable anecdotal evidence. In fact the election leaflet says as much, it was anecdotal evidence from local traders who see parking charges as driving away customers. In fact, lack of parking spaces could be the reason trade isn’t very good. There are probably many other reasons and hence proper research needs to be done. I would ask the local university if the students could do the research for their term papers or dissertations!

So, don’t listen to the rumours or other anecdotal evidence from friends or even from newspapers. Look to see what the experts have to say and maybe do you own research. Then you can make better decisions and be more successful in life.

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