What can we do when politicians, advertisers and journalists make misleading claims which fly in the face of evidence? Last year here at Sense About Science we launched a campaign (as featured on BoingBoing) to get more people asking for evidence – for the claims make by politicians, companies, NGOs or anyone else. Never assume that someone, somewhere has checked the numbers or looked at the evidence before making a claim. It could be advice on parenting, governmental guidance on healthcare, policies on improving education or cutting crime, or advertising for products. Some of this information is based on reliable evidence and sound science – but much of it is not.
The Ask for Evidence campaign has already seen claims being withdrawn, individuals apologising and huge companies changing the way they do things for the better. From leisure centres agreeing to check the evidence on all their advertising, to retail chains revising staff training, from a chain of juice bars correcting its advertising to health department rules on prescriptions – individuals are making a difference by doing something as simple as asking for evidence.
We were taken by surprise with the numbers of people wanting to take part, and realised we had to up our game. So this month, with support from the Wellcome Trust, we’ve launched a new online tool that lets anyone ask for the evidence directly, share their experiences with others, and get help from us and experts with the responses they get.
If politicians, NGOs, journalists and companies want us to vote for them, donate to them, believe them or buy their products then they should all be prepared to provide the evidence to support their claims. And to hold them to account – we need to be the ones to ask for evidence. Stand up for evidence and make sure people know you're doing it by asking for evidence online.
Visit Ask for Evidence and get asking.