Common Misconceptions

"Evidence means quantitative ‘scientific’ evidence."

Absolutely not. Evidence in general just means information – like the use of ‘evidence’ in legal settings – anything might count as evidence if it’s judged to be valid, reliable and relevant.

"Evidence-based practice means practitioners cannot use their professional expertise . "

No. Expertise is another form of knowledge which can be as valid or relevant as any other.

"Evidence can prove things."

Not really. Evidence provides probabilities or indications of likelihood based on (what is always) limited information.

"Evidence tells you the truth about things."

No. Truth is a whole different thing.

"New exciting single ‘breakthrough’ studies provide the best evidence."

Almost never. It’s about what the body of many individual pieces of research (and other forms of evidence) is suggesting.

"Collecting valid and relevant evidence gives you the Answer to the Problem. "

Not really. Evidence rarely gives you The Answer but helps you make better-informed decisions and develop a more elaborate understanding of the problem and the evidence that may be relevant.

"Experts know all about the evidence so you just need to ask them."

Rarely true. Experts are invariably biased, have limited knowledge and have vested interests (particularly if their expertise is related to their power or other resources).  We need to make our own judgements and overcome “trust me I’m a doctor”-type deference.

"Doing evidence-based practice simply means doing what the research evidence tells you works. "

Not really. Research evidence is just one of four sources of evidence.  Evidence-based practice is about practice not research.  Research evidence doesn’t speak for itself or do anything.  It may be highly relevant and valid, it may not, but  only other forms of evidence will determine this.

"If you don’t have the evidence you can’t practically do anything."

Not at all. But you practice and do things explicitly knowing and acknowledging this.  Evidence-based management is not about perfection or a imagining progress towards a completely knowable world.