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    Dear Social Workers: Please Provide Reliable Sources to Back Up Your Arguments

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    A couple of weeks ago Social Work Helper’s founding editor, Deona Hooper, published a response to an article that appeared on Social Justice Solutions, and you can read it here. What follows is my response to a post in the SWH Facebook forum.  I was dismayed by the tone of the comments to the article and how no one was backing up what they were saying with facts. Below is me pleading with commenters to back what they say in professional forums with reliable sources.

    I am disappointed that no one here is backing up what they are saying with sources. In fact few of you seem to be engaging in an intelligent and professional discussion on this topic. I realize that many commenting may not be social workers or policy analyst but for those that are, what gives? As social workers we need to back up what we advocate for with facts (evidence based practice) not our feelings.

    Feelings aside, let’s talk facts. The author of the original article (Justin Nutt) is supporting policies that are not backed up by research. At least one of his statements is calling for the violation of peoples civil rights simply because they are poor which is most certainly not in keeping with social work ethics and values.

    Voter ID laws: There are only a tiny number of actual voter fraud cases in the US. However, far more people are negatively affected by voter id laws (source).  See that. I just included a link to a reliable source to back up my statement.

    Reverse racism (homophobia, sexism, etc., etc.) is not a real thing. There are a million articles about this topic. If you are a social worker you should have read a few. Racism is institutional. In the United States if you are white, protestant, and a heterosexual man you have privilege. In fact you have a ton of privilege, because the institutions in this county were built for your benefit.

    Hepshiba’s Pad. (2010, July 15). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

    Fish, S. (1993, November 01). Reverse racism, or how the pot got to call the kettle black. The Atlantic, Retrieved from

    Follow this blog http://sociolab.tumblr.com/ . It is run by a graduate student majoring in applied sociology.  There are links to a lot of resources covering sexism, homophobia, hetrosexism, and racism. You will learn a lot from the posts.

    “I believe guns reduce crime rather than increase it, and I sleep very well with a .45 in my night stand.” Except we have studies that disprove this view point.

    Pinsky, S. (2014, February 22). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

    Dahlberg, L. L. (2004). Guns in the home and risk of a violent death in the home: Findings from a national study. American Journal of Epidemiology,160(10), 929-936. Retrieved from

    Gilson, D. (2013, January 31). 10 pro-gun myths, shot down. Mother Jones, Retrieved from

    Drug testing welfare recipients: In this section of his article Justin is advocating for the government to violate welfare recipient’s constitutional rights. Forced drug tests without reasonable suspicion is an illegal search and seizure under the 4th amendment. The courts have ruled against mandatory drug test for welfare recipients.

    Williamson, J. (2014, January 02). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

    ACLU. (2013, December 31). Victory for privacy as federal court’s final order bars law requiring tanf applicants submit to suspicionless drug tests. Retrieved from

    The main point I wanted to make in this post is that we are social scientists commenting in a professional social work forum. Wishy-washy comments like “both sides have a point” and “let’s agree to disagree” have no place. Be better than that.

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    Rachel L. West is the Founder of the Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to macro social work and politics. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. She is a community outreach and engagement specialist. Rachel resides in New York State, and she is available as a consultant and coach. You can find out more about Rachel at The Political Social Worker at (politicalsocialworker.org).

    33 Comments

    33 Comments

    1. Social Justice Solutions

      Social Justice Solutions

      March 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Just a quick word: SJS is not strictly a social work site, we are news and media org run by social workers. We cover a wide range of topics that span many disciplines and have professional experts from many of those disciplines. Please try to be accurate, misinformation is a killer as you have been so kind to point out. 😉

    2. James Lee

      James Lee

      March 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Do yourself a favor and google “causes of school shootings” not news just a google search. Reason that socialjusticesolutions.org article is so high is the fact it is used in damn near every training related to school shootings.

    3. James Lee

      James Lee

      March 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      I realize you were not talking about academic papers, but you called for research and just because it is on the internet doesn’t mean it is true. And the ACLU is not known for unbiased reports.

    4. James Lee

      James Lee

      March 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      No he is not one of the most respected because he writes for a social work site. He I say he is one of the most respected because what he writes for that socialjusticesolutions.org is used in training people. You want to attack how he feels and what he believes. I am a Catholic do you want me to present a research article that shows that God exists? You won’t get one for the simple fact there is not one it is my personal beliefs. You are proving the point he is making here, left or right ACCEPTANCE is a must.

    5. Rachel West

      March 19, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Daniel, good luck on your capstone.

    6. Rachel West

      March 19, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      Jame I was’t talking about academic papers. BTW online source are ok if they are from a reliable source. Most think tanks and government organizations post briefings and stats online that are totally useable in academic papers.

    7. Rachel West

      March 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      They are right James. The ACLU is respected and reputable.

    8. Rachel West

      March 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Because he is a social worker writing for a social work site.

    9. Daniel Timothy

      Daniel Timothy

      March 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Thanks James! I was being silly with my OP, but you guys are raising a very good point. I’m currently in the middle of my capstone experience, so yes, finding and using reputable sources without some sort of bias can be a bit of a challenge. Even the text books are biased to a degree.

    10. James Lee

      James Lee

      March 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Rachel West sadly the ACLU and Social Worker 4 Change are not respected or reputable sources either. No online source is accepted in a research paper unless it is an online journal. I would hope that if you have been in the field long you would have realized that the goal of writing is not finding article that support your point, but looking at the articles and finding out what is right.

    11. James Lee

      James Lee

      March 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

      So because he has a belief about something he needs facts to back up that belief? So please explain this to me how do your “facts” hold more weight than a 1000 “reliable” sources that would say that gun ownership reduces crime? No offense, but the ACLU is not a really big research organization. Try looking at studies by universities

      I can’t post the link because it won’t let anyone read it (login required) check the Havard study that proves gun control is counter productive.

      You ask for facts to support beliefs then use online sources and biased studies conducted by those with an agenda to support your own beliefs.

      I am a liberal, but I am also a realist which means I look at both sides and the facts that are used to understand what reality is. What you seem to be missing is the fact that Justin Nutt is one of the most respected authors in fields such as domestic violence and school shootings. Your attack shows not that he is wrong, but shows that you are narrow minded.

    12. Don McCasland

      March 19, 2014 at 7:34 am

      It’s frightening to me that this article is even necessary. It’s even MORE frightening (and more that a little saddening) that I’ve personally heard some of this garbage from Social Workers.

    13. Amanda Huber Lopera

      March 19, 2014 at 12:00 am

      “: Dear Social Workers: Please Provide Reliable Sources … – #news #socialwork #swhelper PLEASE!

    14. Amanda Huber Lopera

      March 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      “: Dear Social Workers: Please Provide Reliable Sources … – @LoveDrNutt http://t.co/5NLblnGXVL”

    15. Rachel West

      March 18, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Terri I am confused by why you believe an article written by a professor is not a reliable source. Plus if you looked at the blog I mentioned you would see the student is linking and quoting from reliable sources that include peer reviewed studies. So it is not just that students opinions and ramblings. You comment is leading me to believe that you did not look at any of the sources I shared. Come on, most of what I cited are studies or articles from trustworthy sources. Do not be so dismissive of blogs. If the person writing them is a qualified expert that carries weight. So I consider a blog post written by a someone with qualifications and expertise in that area to be a reliable source.

    16. Rachel West

      March 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      If it was from a reliable news source or journal then yes. It counts.

    17. Terri Richards Schempf

      March 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Blogs and newspaper articles are not scientific evidence. Peer reviewed journals and evidence based research are reliable sources. Just because someone who is a graduate student majoring in applied psychology writes a blog doesn’t mean the research is reliable. Another thing social workers need to be very aware of is using internet sources. Anyone can write a blog and newspaper writers are not using peer reviewed research. You would need to track down their sources and check the reliability of those. We all need to be very careful to not search out sources that support what we think but to use very reliable research that is backed up with evidence and holds up to professional standards. Of course we are all entitled to our opinions and to write blogs etc. but do not present them as solid evidence based information because it hampers reliable information being relayed that will truly advance the profession and help people. We should let the research speak to us about what has been studied and proven to be true and helpful and what outcomes it produces so we can bring those to our daily work with people who are relying on us to be professional.
      Reply · Like · Unfollow Post · about a minute ago

    18. Daniel Timothy

      Daniel Timothy

      March 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Aw man, you mean I read it on FB doesn’t count??

    19. Diana Winslow MSW

      March 18, 2014 at 8:49 am

      . .@MiamiHerald hope you have met. Expose on child death in Florida. Strike while the iron is hot.http://t.co/RfF6VdA27X

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