Making Sense of Science and Evidence 2010 Annual Meeting


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  • Not everyone will be in position to talk to media – whether because don’ t feel comfortable, or research too sensitive, or insitution not happy with it – often case with hospitals + NHS
    Still things can do to stand up for science. You are more expert than public + know how science works – can look at study and see if makes sense, or sport bad science.
    Give example of something VoYS worked on last year.
    There goes the science bit project – a group of us decided to start challenging dodgy science claims last year.
    We swapped examples of offending claims… from how Nestle’s ski yoghurts claimed to “optimise the release of energy” to Champney’s detox patches which claimed to draw out harmful toxins overnight and started to phone up the manufacturers of the products to hunt down the evidence for the claims.
    What they found was that all the products they investigated the manufacturers seemed completely unprepared to be questioned and no-one was able to provide solid evidence.
  • Found scientists reluctanct to talk about peer review because
    False promises fear of being seen as whitewashing system that is not fault proof
    Fraud and error when scientists , journal editors and publishers do talk about peer review it’s focussed on the challenges/ problems the system faces – especially around cases of ethics and fraud… Hwang Woo Suk
    Caught up in process – think it is boring.
    No public eye-view
  • It is recommended that systematic attempts are made to develop effective explanations of peer review and to communicate these to a wider public.”
    Scientists thought we were mad when we said there was a public interest but even we didn’t expect to get press interest in this! So it was great to receive news coverage of the WK party report and to discussion about this – particularly amongst scientists, publishers and journal editors
  • Making Sense of Science and Evidence 2010 Annual Meeting

    1. 1. Making sense of science and evidence Tracey Brown Sense About Science 16th November 2010
    2. 2. New fears over additives in children's food The Guardian, 8th May 2007 GM vandals force science firms to reduce research The Times, 16th Oct 2005 Fears over gender bender Chemical in our food packaging The Daily Express, 30th Jan 2007 Wi-Fi: Children at riskfrom 'electronic smog'The Independent 22nd April 2007 Public debate on hybrid embryos BBC Online, 11th January 2007 Chlorine in tap water ‘nearly doubles the risk of birth defects’ Daily Mail 31st May 2008 Mouthwash ‘can raise cancer risk’ Metro 13th January 2009 Bowel cancerdoubles amongthe under-30sDaily Mail 31st March 2009 Cosmetics ‘expose women to 175 chemicals in a day’ Daily Mail 4th September 2006
    3. 3. ORBIT CLOSE Woman ‘given bovine TB by garden badger’ Scientists create pigs with cystic fibrosis in search for life-saving new treatments Fish Oil enhances children’s speech How a ‘cocktail’ of food additives could harm young brains
    4. 4.  News Media  Press Officers Conference Organisers Higher Education Teachers Parliamentarians Governments NGOs Medical Charities Health Service Companies Policy Groups Community Organisations TV programming Discussion Forums Museums Libraries Celebrities Publishers Lifestyle Sector Websites People interested in peer review
    5. 5. What people ask about… Help me get to grips with it • Should we worry? • Can I get something from scientists? • Is it a scare story? • Is it science? • Who says it’s safe? How much do we know? • What do scientists actually know? • What tests have been done? • How sure are they? Balance of scientific opinion • Is it majority opinion? • How are scientists split? Legitimacy • Is it a proper study? • How can I tell? • Have they talked to scientists? • What kind of study is it?
    6. 6. Peer trouble How fail safe is our current system at ensuring the quality and integrity of research? Not very, says John Crace The Guardian, February 11 2003 Lies, all lies. But who do you tell? The Times, May 14 2007 Can peer review police fraud? Nature Neuroscience, February 1 2006 A question of ethics Medical journals are an immoral marketing tool for drug companies, according to a former editor of theBMJ.The Guardian, June 30 2005 UK autism fracas fuels calls for peer review reform Nature Medicine, 1 April 2004 Peer Review Under StressScience, April 20 2007 Casualties of fraud Don't believe all you read in medical journals - their methods of assuring quality are often less than reliable. The Guardian, October 30 2006
    7. 7. Reasons for Reviewing n=3597 16% 33% 34% 30% 46% 85% 69% 72% 90% % agree
    8. 8. Overall satisfaction with peer review (n=4037) 8% 61% 22% 8% 1% Very Satisfied Satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied
    9. 9. Purpose of peer review 33 37 62 57 82 71 64 33 38 58 54 77 64 61 79 81 84 81 93 92 86 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Detects fraud Detects plagiarism Determines the importance of findings Ensures previous work is acknowledged Improves the quality of the published paper Determines the originality of the manuscript That it selects the best manuscripts for the journal Should be able Is able Currently fulfils n = 4037 % agree
    10. 10. Making sense of science and evidence Tracey Brown Sense About Science 16th November 2010