Critical Analysis Key to Understanding Societal Challenges
I’ve learned some hard and valuable lessons over the course of my professional career in healthcare, public policy, and media affairs. One of the most important is you can’t simply accept—and god forbid parrot—the popular narrative of the day, especially the narrative that claims to have identified a single cause and solution for a societal challenge.
You must understand the complex circumstances underlying the problem at hand in order to develop an appropriate response. This requires critical analysis of the problem’s history, context, and consideration of relevant quantitative and qualitative evidence from all sides of the issue.
It’s also essential—and I can’t stress this enough—to consider and understand the institutional, group, and individual motivations of those selling one compelling narrative or another—people who may be incentivized for political, financial, or ideological reasons to wave one hand to distract you from the truth that is held in the other.
When we complete a critical analysis of the issue at the foundation of the narrative of the day, we often discover that things are not nearly as simple as we or others would make them out to be. There are, in fact, many variables underlying the challenges we face as a people. It’s complicated.
As such, the simplified but media (and social media) friendly narrative we hear is often akin to a limited assessment and misdiagnosis of a sick patient. And if the diagnosis is wrong, you can almost guarantee that the prescribed treatment will be ineffective, leading to a worsening of the patient’s condition.
Unfortunately, in modern society some institutions, groups, and individuals are allowed to be consistently, spectacularly incorrect over and over again with no ramifications.
Never the less, you may not be in the group that suffers no fallout from being wrong again and again, so be careful which narratives you assume as your own.