The British Humanist Association (BHA) has announced its support for the Ask for Evidence campaign, which aims to hold companies, politicians, commentators and public bodies accountable for the claims they make. The campaign has been launched by Sense About Science, the charitable trust that works to enable members of the public to make sense of scientific claims made in public discussion. The campaign encourages ordinary people to write to organisations and public figures which make scientific claims, to ask them for the relevant evidence.
The Ask for Evidence campaign emphasises that you don’t need to be a scientist to take part – anyone can take part. If you see a claim made by a company, public figure, campaign group, media outlet or official body, which does not present any evidence in support of it, you can contact them to ask that they provide the evidence. You can send a request using an Ask for Evidence postcard, or by using the campaign’s online form. You can also let the Ask for Evidence campaign know that you are doing this, so that they can help.
Requests already made by supporters of the campaign include: a request that Boris Johnson provide the evidence behind his claim that using biodiesel from used cooking oil in London buses could save 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year; a claim in The Times that local authorities could raise £1 billion by selling off rubbish; a claim about a herbal remedy that it could switch off the mind and give you a good night’s sleep; and the claim that a face cream could make you look 10 years younger in 40 seconds (see the campaign’s examples page for more).
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented ‘Evidence-based inquiry as the means of finding out about the world around us is a cornerstone of the humanist approach. In a busy public sphere, we all need to get into the habit of asking for evidence for the competing claims that are hurled at us as citizens and consumers. Cumulatively, this attitude can persuade organisations to become more transparent and open in the way in which they present their evidence, as well as more careful about what claims they make in the first place.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
The Ask for Evidence campaign: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/a4e.html
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.