‘It’s more complicated than that…’ is a common academic refrain. How many times have you watched a TV programme or read a newspaper article that touches on an area you know about and shouted (probably to no-one in particular): ‘but it’s more complicated than that’? Indeed, Ben Goldacre even called his latest book I Think you’ll Find it’s More Complicated Than That.
In this occasional series of blog posts we respond to items that appear on TV, the radio and in the press that deal with public health history topics. We want to explore some of the complexities often skated over or left out of such popular narratives. We aim to set current debates in historical context, and add some depth and complexity.
Whilst we want to show that ‘It’s more complicated than that’, we recognise that programme makers and journalists have different aims, and often limited space in which to communicate their ideas. There is an elegance to simplicity: academics invest a lot of energy making seemingly simple things complex, when we should also be spending time making complicated things, well, not necessarily simple, but at least easier to understand.
So, what we hope to do here is to add to popular narratives, not necessarily to correct or criticise (although there might be some of that as well!).