REMARK: Evidence-based worldview

Those of us who work in alcohol policy face various obstacles, the alcohol industry being one of them. But that is not the only one, and perhaps not even the major one.

The goal we have is evidence-based alcohol and drug policies. We haven’t invented our own method or understanding. Instead, we support what the scientific evidence proves to be effective. The definition of “evidence-based” is following: “Denoting an approach to medicine, education, and other disciplines that emphasizes the practical application of the findings of the best available current research.”

That means we are also always open to changes. If the best available research shows something new, we will adapt.

What is the opposite to the evidence-based approach? “I don’t believe it works!”

When personal beliefs and subjective understandings are placed higher than the evidence, here comes the confrontation. Political parties have different ideologies and views on what can solve societal problems. These ideologies sometimes mix science and evidence, but they are rarely based on that. These ideologies, worldviews and cultures are mainly what we are tackling. We can see how even the whole nation identifies their culture, such as something that is not open to restrictive policies. “We are not used to be told what we can do”, so they can’t imagine that they could set time limits for alcohol sales, for instance, regardless of the scientific evidence.

Estonia is about to elect a new president. One of the candidates is professor Tarmo Soomere, the president of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. As he hasn’t been active in day-to-day politics, everyone is curious about his political worldview. Does he lean to the right or to the left? His response astonished many. Soomere said that he does not want to place himself anywhere on this scale and that the facts are essential to him. “In this sense, my worldview can be called a fact-based and knowledge-based worldview. Above all, I consider to be right that has sufficient evidence for it,” said Soomere.

The discussions around alcohol policy are often ruled by worldviews and ideologies rather than facts and evidence. But at this time in history, vaccination is the question that divides people. The situation is still similar – science versus ideologies.

NordAN doesn’t have political worldviews either. So we always support science. And we invite you to do the same. Trust science. Protect yourself and others – get vaccinated.

Lauri Beekmann, 
Executive director, NordAN

Photo: By Sander Hiire – Eesti Teadusagentuur, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54124261