Evidence-based Treatment

19 Nov

I read this article the other day on the success of treatment for juveniles in justice populations.  It’s pretty solid, and has to do with a lot of what I worked on at TASC this summer.

Because here’s the deal: we can’t fix everything with science. Yet. (I would argue for that “Yet.” Some people would argue “Ever.” Some people also smoke cigarettes and don’t wear seatbelts and watch American Idol and pronounce it “nuculer.” Only a person standing at the precise intersection of arrogance and ignorance could possibly believe that science will ever stop changing and improving and discovering new things.)

So: We can’t fix everything with science yet, but we can help. A reduction, as per the article, from 15.5% of juvenile offenders (a problematic word, but let’s press on) committing violent felonies to only 4.3% of those who underwent the treatment committing violent felonies isn’t perfect, but it’s not nothing. The fact that the treatment has proven to be effective for as long as I’ve been alive is also pretty promising.

I was, though, a little bemused by the repeated use of the term “evidence-based treatment.” I mean, as opposed to what? I understand that it’s generally just shorthand for “treatments that have been thoroughly studied and are based on scientific premises,” but really, that raises the question: What other kinds of treatments are people trying?  Treatments that have not been thoroughly objectively studied and that are not based on scientific premises? Non-evidence-based treatment?

It’s as simple as this: We have science; use science. The day someone can explain to me why that is complicated will be the day I can truly claim to understand the human brain.

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