Last Thursday was IFAS Research Awards night. It’s an annual event that reminds us that we have extraordinary scientists creating knowledge in so many fields. IFAS research brings science-based answers to hypothetical questions. “What’s killing the citrus trees?” or “How can we end hunger while protecting the environment?”
Researchers generally begin with a problem that needs solving or with something that needs improving. Research methodology can be boiled down to a single question, “What if?” From there, a myriad of what ifs are employed until a solution or an improvement is found.
The next morning, there was another mass shooting, this time, at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. Twenty weeks into 2018, and there have already been 22 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than one shooting a week. Clearly, we need to solve this problem.
Indeed, amidst the sorrow of this all-too-common tragedy, inevitably there rises an immediate outcry for a solution to prevent it from happening again. This predictably leads to a war of words between people who favor various iterations of gun control and those who think that guns are not the problem.
What is true, is that scientific evidence on the effects of those policies can be hard to find. So lawmakers typically turn to experts and advocates who always disagree vehemently about the effects of laws.
What if policymakers and other stakeholders commit to improving the scientific evidence base on how gun policies affect outcomes?
Ideally, solid research would lead to effective public policies, which then reduce deaths, be it from guns, mental illness, or another societal malaise.
What if we could diminish the likelihood of further violence and use good science versus conjecture?