United Families International was privileged to have university students accompany us to the Commission on the Status of Women. Allie Gillespie shares what she learned while at the United Nations.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.”
Ok, so we all know that this isn’t actually true since the Internet didn’t exist for over a hundred years after Lincoln’s death. Things like Lincoln’s quote are obviously fake and anyone who takes a second to think can figure it out. It’s when we don’t take the time to think things through or do the research ourselves, that we can get caught believing things that aren’t true.
Unfortunately, the half-truths hidden throughout the presentations at the United Nations are not as detectable as an Abe Lincoln quote about the Internet. In fact, if you’re not paying full attention to what is being said, you may end up thinking the propaganda presented is a great idea.
At the UN Commission on the Status of Women, I went to a side event titled, “How to Inspire the use of Preventative Innovations”. The topic was about making HIV prevention and contraceptives more available to women in Africa. The presenters talked about the stigma and negative attitudes surrounding contraceptives, and claimed that when women don’t use contraceptive, they will lose the ability to attain their dreams because they will be weighed down with disease or the responsibility of parenthood.
The presenters wove their points around the personal stories of individuals, which makes for a compelling argument. As I listened to these stories, I found myself thinking, Maybe, I should rethink my position on this. While I listened, I looked at the 5 methodologies that were used to gather their information. Their methodologies consisted of “interviews, workshops, girl talk events, intercept interviews, and digital groups.” Interviews are a commonly used and accepted practice in qualitative research, but the rest are ones that I have never even heard of!
There was no talk of quantitative research being done. There were brief mentions of clinical trials in a couple of African countries, but what they focused on were individual stories that they had learned through meeting different women in different parts of Africa.
According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the most effective ways that you can be persuasive is to weave your narrative around a story. Which they did quite well! But these are traps that you have to look out for throughout the UN. This is why you have to pay attention to these presentations and look into the research yourself!
Sometimes the research isn’t done well (as in this case), there is no research, or the research is taken out of context. If you don’t look into the research or know what reputable research looks like, you can be duped. You can get caught up in the compelling nature of personal stories. When that happens, it is easy to get caught up in all the emotion of a story and begin supporting things that aren’t actually best for yourself, others and society.
I was almost caught up in the whirlwind of the presentation and nearly missed the false precepts that were being taught. Thanks to my learning the methods of reliable research, I was able to recognize the fallacies in their presentation, and you can too!
Don’t be duped:
- Know the methods of quality research (This book goes through research design and appropriate methodologies)
- Know the research that has been done in the past on the issue
- If the issue is new to you, take the time to find and study additional research from various viewpoints before you form a conclusion