This paper compares information from an article from a lay source to that from two articles on the same topic from a professional source. The information from the lay article is then analyzed using the eight basic structures of thinking stated by Paul and Elder (2016). The main topic of the articles utilized in this paper is the health results from the use of fluoride. The lay article is from Michaels (2011). The professional articles are from Kumar et al. (2018) and Singh and Purohit (2018). The professional sources are considered primary sources of information, while the lay article is considered a tertiary source of information. The analysis of the lay article includes the main ideas, inferences, and implications of the article.
Lay articles are considered tertiary sources of information that are written by people outside of the professional field. Journalists and professional writers often write them. Often times, no author is named. Lay articles can be decent sources of information, but caution must be used as the information often contains bias as well as misinformation.
According to Paul and Elder (2016), eight basic structures of thinking exist. These include purpose, question, information, inferences, ideas, assumptions, implications, and points of view (Paul and Elder, 2016). Purpose refers to the reason for the writing the article (Paul and Elder, 2016). It involves stating what the author is trying to accomplish in his or her writing (Paul and Elder, 2016).
Question refers to figuring out the key questions that are being addressed by the author in his or her writing (Paul and Elder, 2016). Information involves pointing out the key information that the author uses in order to support his or her arguments in writing (Paul and Elder, 2016). It involves all facts, data, and personal experiences that the author uses to come to his or her own conclusions (Paul and Elder, 2016). Inferences refers to identifying the main conclusions of an author’s article (Paul and Elder, 2016).
Ideas refers to identifying the important ideas and concepts in order to better understand the author’s reasoning in his or her writing (Paul and Elder, 2016). One must then briefly explain what the author’s ideas mean (Paul and Elder, 2016). Assumptions refers to identifying ideas and concepts that the author takes for granted and are usually not stated in the article (Paul and Elder, 2016). The assumptions are concepts that the author thinks do not need to be defended in his or her writing (Paul and Elder, 2016). Implications refers to reflecting on the likely consequences of the public taking or not taking the author’s reasoning seriously (Paul and Elder, 2016). It involves identifying the logical implications of the position of the author, both stated and unstated (Paul and Elder, 2016). Lastly, points of view refers to identifying what the author looks at as well as how he or she sees it (Paul and Elder, 2016). These basic structures of thinking are absolutely essential for the analysis of an author’s work.
The lay article that will be discussed is by Michaels (2011). It discusses the author’s point of view on the use of fluoride (Michaels, 2011). According to the author, the use of fluoride presents many health dangers (Michaels, 2011). She states ten main dangers of fluoride (Michaels, 2011). These include accumulation in the body, infertility, the use of fluoride in baby formulas, neurological issues, lower IQ, early puberty, thyroid dysfunction, and arthritis and bone damage as well as bone fractures (Michaels, 2011). The author also gives advice on how to avoid fluoride, including using fluoride free toothpaste, avoiding processed food, filtering tap water, not smoking, and avoiding soda, coffee, or tea served at restaurants (Michaels, 2011).
Two professional articles on the topic of fluoride usage were also analyzed. The first is from a research study done by Singh and Purohit (2018) comparing the effects of preventing caries between high-fluoride toothpaste and standard-fluoride toothpaste. The study involved randomized controlled trials as well as cluster-randomized trials in comparing the efficacy of both high-fluoride and lower-concentration fluoride toothpaste in the prevention of dental caries with at least a six-month follow-up (Singh and Purohit, 2018). The statistical significance p value was set at p The second article involves a study by Kumar et al. (2018) evaluating any associations between fluoride in the body and thyroid dysfunction with delayed tooth eruption in pediatric populations in areas of fluorosis. The study population was split into two groups (Kumar et al., 2018). Group A belonged to an area of endemic fluorosis, while group B belonged to an area of non-endemic fluorosis (Kumar et al., 2018). Group A was used as the experimental group, while group B was used as the control group (Kumar et al., 2018).
Group A was then divided into two subgroups (Kumar et al., 2018). The first group included pediatric subjects with dental fluorosis, and the second group included pediatric subjects without dental fluorosis (Kumar et al., 2018). Blood samples were collected from each group in order to analyze thyroid hormone levels (Kumar et al., 2018). According to the results of the study, thyroid hormone derangement was found to be significantly higher in group A than group B, while delayed tooth eruption was found to be independent of thyroid derangement (Kumar et al., 2018). The results suggested that delayed tooth eruptions and thyroid dysfunction can occur with fluorosis (Kumar et al., 2018).
The main difference between the lay article and the professional articles include that actual research studies done by professional scientists were presented in the professional articles, while the lay article merely presented health information while citing professional sources in order to back the information. Also, the lay article was posted in a magazine website, while the professional articles were posted in reputable medical and dental journals. Lastly, the professional articles were peer-reviewed and approved for presentation in the medical and dental journals, while the lay article was not peer-reviewed.
Implications for the lay article include the risks of health misinformation if the article is taken seriously. For example, if the information in the article is followed, there is a chance that the incidence in dental caries may increase. There is also the chance that the health of the public may benefit from the information in the article as well. For example, the rates of infertility as well as thyroid and neurological issues may decrease if the information in the article is utilized by the public.
Implications also exists for if the information in the article is not taken seriously by the public. For example, rates of dental caries may decrease from continued fluoride use if the information in the article is disregarded. Also, there is a chance that health issues, such as thyroid dysfunction, neurological issues, and infertility may continue to increase if the information is ignored.
Overall, a number of risks exist in the use of information from lay articles over professional articles. As stated before, there is risk for misinformation from lay articles. Also, the information in lay articles is more likely to contain bias compared to the information in professional articles. Caution should be taken when utilizing information from lay articles.
Kumar, V., Chahar, P., Karjjari, S., Rahman, F., Bansal, D.K., and Kapadia, J.M. (2018). Fluoride, Thyroid Hormone Derangements and its Correlation with Tooth Eruption Pattern Among the Pediatric Population from Endemic and Non- endemic Fluorosis Areas. The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 19(12), 1512-1516.
Michaels, A.M. (2011). Top 10 Fluoride Dangers. Retrieved from https://www.cheeseslave.com/top-10-dangers-of-fluoride/
Paul, R. and Elder, L. (2016). The Thinker’s Guide for Students on How to Study and Learn a Discipline. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.
Singh, A. and Purohit, B.M. (2018). Caries Preventive Effects of High-fluoride vs Standard-fluoride Toothpastes – A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Oral Health and Preventative Dentistry, 16(4), 307-314.
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