Don’t just take their word for it: Ask for Evidence

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Ask for Evidence provides a template queries about claims , stories illustrating the importance of asking for the evidence behind a claim, a lesson plan and a portal for contacting experts to take things further

  • Format Lessons, Videos, Websites
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Self-directed learning
  • EBM Stage 0 - Why EBM?
  • Duration 5-15 mins, >15 mins
  • Difficulty Introductory

Key Concepts addressed


Sense About Science’s campaign puts you in the driving seat in tackling misleading or inaccurate claims about new treatments.

Ask for Evidence helps you to find out whether a policy, newspaper article, advert or product is backed by scientific evidence.

The resource contains

Sense About Science is a non-profit pressure group aiming to improve the accuracy of science reporting.  They do this by working in partnership with a network of academics and scientific advisors.

This is crucial work in the PR age.  We are bombarded by claims of “scientifically proven” benefits, many of which have a highly questionable basis in fact..  We also face strategies that aim to create a sense of uncertainty about science when none exists.

Why we need Ask for Evidence


By muddying the waters, exaggerated or misleading claims make it harder for us to see which treatments are genuinely beneficial.  They do harm by hiding ineffective or harmful treatments.  For this reason, Sense About Science‘s tactics for mobilising independent expertise offer a powerful counter to PR driven by vested interests.

However, their new campaign, “Ask for Evidence”, is for everyone, not just experts.  It helps ordinary people challenge the claims made about a product or treatment. In this way, Sense About Science hopes to mobilise ordinary citizens to question the distorted messages they are bombarded with on a daily basis.

How does it work?

But in a field dominated by “expert opinion” and “scientific evidence”, how can an ordinary person make sense of the deluge of claims?

In Testing Treatments interactive, we present a series of resources to help you tell whether or not a treatment you are offered has been subject to a fair test of its benefits and harms.  There are:

Ask for Evidence takes this approach one step further, by encouraging us to actively challenge these claims wherever they are made.

A crowd holding a megaphone
“Excuse me, but are you sure about that?”

This is backed up by SaS’s existing resources, such as:

Finally, there is an open invitation to ask Sense About Science to help you in your quest to demystify claims about fair tests of treatments.

In an era of crowdsourcing and viral media, these resources may prove invaluable in the effort to improve the honesty of claims made about health treatments.  And there is evidence here that Ask for Evidence can have an impact.


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