Creative Thinking in Epidemiology: 3. Epidemiological thinking in public discourse

3. Epidemiological thinking in public discourse:  We do not fully understand an idea until we are able to explain it to the common person—something to that effect was proposed by, I think, the geographer and anarchist Peter Kropotkin.  In this spirit, epidemiologists might try using epidemiological thinking to clarify issues that arise in the media or public discourse.  In addition to the deeper or perhaps revised understanding, epidemiologists could build from such exercises a basis for a more public role and that might lead eventually to greater support for epidemiology and public health.  Some of my attempts at applying epidemiological thinking to issues in public discourse have been posted on this blog this last year.  They address unemployment, urban riots, voting restrictions, the Tucson massacre, and mammogram guidelines.

Questions:

  • How would you revise or rework the blog posts in the Appendix if you were using epidemiological thinking to explain the issues to the common person?
  • What issues, in population health or in wider public discourse, have you tried to explain to the common person?
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