Book Review: Evidence-Based Public Health

Evidence-Based Public Health, by Ross C Brownson

This is a fascinating book to read.  I do not mean to say that I approved of its approach or perspective, because I did not.  But if I did not agree with the author’s perspective on public health or his obvious political biases, I did find the book very revealing in those biases and the characteristic nature of the approach of many of those who have infiltrated the field of public health and seek to use it as a way of supporting a political agenda that would not have the support of the people if it was openly supported but which can be put into place through scare tactics and overreach of government power in times of crisis such as our own era.  The author is clearly of the mindset that no crisis should go to waste and is also of the mindset that public health includes the authority and warrant to seek to corrupt institutions and divert funding to pursue leftist ideals of social justice.  To the extent that one finds this problematic, the author is unable to recognize the lack of genuine evidence at the basis of a great deal of the creativity and innovation that the author supports and endorses.

As far as its contents are concerned, this book is about 200 pages long or so and is divided into nine chapters.  The author opens the book with  defense of the need for evidence-based public health, seeking to frame public health as an objectively-based and objectively beneficial field (1) and stating that the reader should be easily convinced of this by the book’s reasoning.  After that the author seeks to assess scientific evidence for public health actions, seeking to ground the interventions that have been claimed as being founded on consensus-based science and therefore beyond the reach of criticism and skepticism (2).  The author then discusses how to understand and apply analytic tools to the field of public health (3) as well as develop an initial statement of various issues (4) and quantifying the issue (5).  The author discusses how one searches the existing scientific literature and organizes information (6), how one develops and prioritizes program options (7).  Finally, the author discusses how one develops an action plan and implements interventions (8) and evaluates the program or policy (9) in a suitably left-wing fashion before the book ends with a glossary and index.

This is a fascinating book in large part because the author seeks to conflate a high degree of pretended respect for science and rational order with ulterior and non-scientific agendas relating to the author’s political worldview, which the author views as being matters of objective truth rather than very subjective error.  The inability to distinguish between subjective opinion and error when it comes to the author’s view of justice and the inability to concede the dubious legitimacy of seeking to manipulate public opinion about matters of health (and politics) through a control of the media and the author’s lack of recognition that consensus biased science is a profoundly conservative process that depends on a sound grasp of evidence and a great deal of testing to make sure that what is thought actually is so, with a high degree of skepticism about new and untried ways that may in fact be found to be harmful (as many health interventions turn out to be in retrospect).  The fact that the author engages in self-serving and massively self-contradictory approaches indicates that although public health as a field is relatively young, the late age of public health is deeply troubled and highly politically motivated at present, which has serious and negative consequences for the health and well-being of people, to say nothing of our republican virtue.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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