battle for the public

The Battle for the Public



Recently, there have been what one could almost call an onslaught of public figures influencing public opinion and perception on very important issues who are probably the least informed on those subjects, but because they’re experts in a different field, they are treated as if they’re experts in every area of knowledge.

One of the most famous, Jordan B. Peterson recently has gained public notoriety for his word salad which either says nothing, or promotes very outdated ways of thinking presented as something brand new and exciting, while doing nothing but mashing together words and making up terms of which only he seems to know the definition of, yet never defines them all in an effort to sell self-published self-help books.

While Peterson’s sphere of influence is neatly walled off in the area of ‘self help’, other people with reach and influence have decided they, too, should ignore research, studies, scientific method and many of the other tools we as advanced 21st century peoples employ to understand ourselves and our world. In fact, the scientific method is one of those in which it implies it will never have the actual answer to anything, only the ‘most correct based on what we know about something today, and we should change our view tomorrow in light of new evidence’.

Unfortunately, writers, bloggers, editors, reporters and other people charged with disseminating the most up-to-date information about addiction didn’t get that memo, nor understand they share responsibility for both muddying the waters when it comes to that subject, as well as promote harmful ideas that have been long disproven.

Recently, a fairly high profile case involving addiction, at least when it comes to one that doesn’t involve a celebrity or sports figure, involved a nurse who sued for discrimination over being fired for having an addiction which drove her to steal drugs. Immediately, editorials were surfacing outright espousing ‘common’ viewpoints that have been outdated for at least forty years if not longer; the nurse is a criminal, addiction isn’t a disease and her actions do not indicate anything but those of a criminal.

The problem with this is that this continues to handicap the public at large to create any kind of momentum to handle what is essentially a public health crisis considering the uptick in drug addiction over the last ten years. Many people writing these opinions (they *are* opinions) are stuck in 1971, when the War on Drugs was declared, criminalizing all facets of drug production and especially drug use. And yet, nearly fifty years later, it hasn’t solved anything. It’s brought us no closer to prevention by taking this attitude of putting a moral failing upon people who end up, by whatever means they did, with an addiction.

Rather than simply speaking about ‘feels’ and ‘intuition’ on a subject in a public space, opinions pieces are doing a disservice to society by continuing to belch barbaric sentiments from a time long gone when we actually didn’t know anything about the disease, how it works, how behavior is modified, how the body changes from drug use and the incredible magnitude of things we now know in psychology, itself a relatively young field in the sciences. Simply pointing a finger at someone has been tried. Now it’s time to step aside and let professionals do their job the best they know how because if you’re not part of the solution, then stop contributing to the problem.

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