Bad science is everywhere. Whether this is homeopaths claiming to be able to cure cancer, universities teaching “alternative” medicine alongside rigorous medical and science degrees, celebrities making misleading claims in the public sphere or even individuals and companies using England’s outdated libel laws to suppress legitimate scientific debate and discovery. While some of this is countered by the admirable work of people such as Ben Goldacre, David Colquhoun and Simon Singh, everyone needs to get involved by tackling misleading science wherever it manifests.
Sense About Science is a charitable trust that equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion. With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, they work in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. Through their award-winning public campaigns and publications, they share the tools of scientific thinking and scrutiny with everyone.
This week, Sense About Science are launching a new campaign to tackle misleading science claims more systematically: the Report Dodgy Science appeal. The aim of this appeal is to encourage people to highlight misleading claim and to take up more situations where the evidence is missing — whether because of distortion, political pressure, or vested interests intimidating people who try to put forward evidence. Sense About Science can then help people who contact them to take things up themselves, providing advice, encouragement and assistance from the specialist databas, as well as using your reports to identify problems that need action from them.
But this costs money. They urgently need the help of supporters to raise an initial fund of £8,000 by 22nd July to get this campaign ready alongside the new website launch. If you feel passionately about how science is reported in the media, the importance of independent scientific advice in the government or how free scientific debate is hindered by the current libel laws, please donate anything you can to this important campaign.
It is free to join Sense About Science (@senseaboutsci), as well as their Voice of Young Science (@voiceofyoungsci) programme, which encourages early-career researchers to play an active role in public debates about science.