You can’t go wrong with the evidence

As I think of moving on to the next thing in my career as an epidemiologist and into public health policy, I have been thinking of what kinds of challenges I’ll face when I make the leap. If you know me, you know that I absolutely cannot stand politics and politicians. I hate that they are willing to say — or do — anything and everything so long as they stay in power. They’ll lie, cheat, and steal, and then deny that they did even in the face of convincing evidence against them.

See, in their silly little minds, they think that they are being “Mavericks” or “Win-at-all-costs Winner” by systematically doing things that are very “questionable” in order to retain their elected position. And it’s not just the elected politicians, either. I’ve met plenty of non-elected people in power who will also go to great lengths to stay in power. They will go along with a horrible plan, even one that they know is horrible, and then not criticize that plan once it is agreed that it was horrible.

So one of my weaknesses in going into public health policy will be my willingness to admit when I’ve made a mistake and the sense of urgency I feel in correcting it. Now, some of you may think that I’m just blowing my own horn by saying that I am self-aware enough to admit my own mistakes — the kind of attribute reserved for historical figures. But I really am not. If anything, admitting my own mistakes has gotten me in trouble when I’ve uncovered mistakes made by me when others would have never found them.

The one big thing I hate to carry around is guilt. I really don’t like it. Ask Pedro. She can detect the slightest hint of guilt on me and make me confess to anything that I’ve done. So it’s going to be hard to be in politics when I am prone to admitting my own mistake. Although, to be honest, I have no interest in being a politician. I’ll just be working with them. But some of them are going to be my bosses, and anything I say or do will be interpreted in light of the day’s politics. This is going to lead to conflict and frustration.

Then again, you can’t go wrong if you have all the science and all the evidence on your side. Even if you make a huge mistake, as long as you did what you did with all the available information and evidence on your side, you really should be in the clear. I’m no mind reader, no fortuneteller. So, if I base the things I will do in public health policy on stuff that has been proven to work, then I should be okay.

Still, I’m sure I’ll find a way to get in trouble.

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