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Posted: Feb 16, 2013

Researchers launch 'Ask For Evidence' public campaign to tackle misinformation about science and medicine

(Nanowerk News) Postdocs and graduate students from all fields of research and science outreach are joining together to launch a campaign to get people questioning the claims they see in newspapers, on TV, in adverts and from policy makers.
We hear all kinds of claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to avoid cancer, how to improve education, cut crime, cure disease or improve food. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigor. Many are not. How can we tell the difference?
The Voice of Young Science (VoYS) USA network will work alongside members of the public to ask for the evidence.
They are launching the Ask for Evidence campaign after a one day Boot Camp, hosted by MIT Museum in Boston MA. With the launch coming on the eve of Valentine’s Day, some of the early career researchers have already had a quick look at the evidence behind aphrodisiac claims about oysters, rhino horn and more, and produced an alternative Valentine’s greeting. The network is setting its sights on encouraging people to ask about science and evidence in discussions about everything from changing weather patterns to ‘superfoods’, vaccinations, alternative medicine and radiation.
Comments on VoYS USA’s Ask for Evidence campaign:
Morgan Thompson of the Science and Social Justice Project and Voice of Young Science USA: "We've been having a bit of fun with our Valentine's theme, but on a serious note the consequences of a non-evidence based approach can be dire. In conducting research on a fatal genetic disease, I've seen patients desperate for better treatments harmed and in some cases lives were lost due to false 'cures' backed by pseudoscience rather than evidence. Protect yourself by asking for the evidence!"
John Durant, Director, MIT Museum:
“If the non-specialist majority is to have any chance of making sense of science amidst all the hullabaloo, scientists themselves need to speak up clearly and make sure they're being heard; and that includes young scientists - the people who, for the most part, are actually doing the experiments and collecting the data. That's what the Voice of Young Science USA is all about, and that's why I support them. Go VoYS USA!"
David Ropeik, Harvard University, author of ‘How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don’t Match The Facts’:
“The Voice of Young Science campaign can play an important part in maintaining and even building that trust, by challenging the hucksters and charlatans and advocates who spin the facts to their selfish use, thereby providing an important public service in helping people make more informed and intelligent judgments about their health and well-being.”
Ben Wiehe, Manager, Science Festival Alliance:
“Not a day goes by when we are not barraged by specious claims in advertising. Such false and misleading claims can obviously harm consumers directly by needlessly draining wallets and raising false hopes. The Ask for Evidence campaign is a unique and straightforward way of taking action to confront this challenging information landscape.“
Source: Sense about Science
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