Calling on Evidence

This morning I was listening to a radio news item on the type of Christmas presents people buy. The item referred to some research on people’s spending habits when it comes to buying Christmas presents. The suggestion was that people who are better off spend the same, or in some instances less, than their less well-off counterparts.
So, the radio show included a telephone interview with an “expert”. This expert was a Psychologist, who I had heard of before. However, this person’s expertise, to the best of my knowledge, is not in consumer Psychology.
The “expert” proceeded to give their view, without linking it to evidence at any point. As far as was evident to the listener it was based largely on opinion. Yet, the “expert” pressed on with their opinion, and had an audience based on their expert status.
In an age when media, be it social or otherwise, has a rather pervasive influence and the masses attend to the words and actions of celebrity the “designation of expert” on a media channel would cause someone to have significant influence. Surely, the least we can expect is that the expertise in question is fact based and the individual is talking about their own area of expertise.
Later the conversation became a little awkward as the radio presenter drew on some evidence. The “expert” appeared a little thrown at first but then, being an experienced media performer, composure was restored with a re-iteration of their original view.
As researchers, you are aware of the importance of evidence and its sources. It is relevant to many areas of our lives, even to searching and securing a job.

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Martin Coffey

About Martin Coffey

Career Management Skills Developer, Researcher Development Team.

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