Ask For Evidence

I don’t know about you but when I’m seeking advice on something, I’m looking for someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about the subject that I need help with.  The criteria for the type of person I turn to normally stops at that, however, the quality of the advice can be jeopardised based on whether or not what that person tells you is factual.  Just because they may have years of experience in a particular field, it doesn’t suggest that the field they are experienced in is full of reason.  For example, I could claim to be an expert in training people to sniff out their house keys; I’d have all the advice in the world, but I do believe that people may question me, even though I’m the expert.

So you see my point.  I may have, however, used a perfectly blatant example for a situation where one might question the dependability of a claim.  The thing is, whether the adviser is an expert or not, the person seeking the advice should never feel like they can’t ask for more information before giving credence.  I’m not trying to teach you how to suck eggs here, it’s just that false claims are made every day in healthcare and vulnerable patients can fall victim to misinformation, simply by not asking for the evidence that supports the claims the leaflet, website or even practitioner is making.

Asking for evidence is a basic concept but it could save your life; and this is what the new “Ask For Evidence” campaign from Sense About Science is all about:

“If you are concerned about the risks or benefits that are being claimed on a website, product, advert, advice, publication or policy announcement, ask the people responsible to show you their evidence.”

Sense About Science are providing you with the tools on how to go about asking for evidence and they explain how they can help you too.  There’s also some sterling examples of how people have gone about asking for evidence about questionable claims – including Marks & Spencer’s “MRSA resistant pyjamas”, “Detox Shampoo” and TV chat shows discussing the side effects of childhood vaccinations, without any healthcare professional on the panel.

Absolutely anyone can ask for evidence.  So, if you’ve seen a dodgy claim or just want to know more about a product, just remember you can always Ask For Evidence.

Derren Brown calls for you to Ask For Evidence. Photo by: me 🙂

To see more photos that I took for the campaign, see my flickr set here:  Ask For Evidence Flickr Set

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