Making sense of Statistics [PDF]Other Guides
This guide is not a lesson in statistics. It provides the questions to ask and identifies the pitfalls to avoid to help us get behind news stories that use statistics.
But when confronted with stories such as “Diabetes drug raises death risk by 60pc”, “Gender pay gap still as high as 50%” and “Polls puts Tories up to 7% ahead”, how can we work out whether to believe them and what they really mean? Dismissing all statistics as just ‘lies’ does not help us get to grips with a story. By working through the points in the guide we can work out what the figures might be telling us.
Making Sense of Testing [PDF]
Why scans and health tests for well people aren't always a good idea.
Adverts and media reports say that people with no symptoms, nor reason to suspect they have a disease can find out what they will get in the future, “reverse the disease processes before symptoms appear”, or even discover how they will die. People are promised instant results, valuable insights and ‘peace of mind’. What many people are getting is a lot of confusion and anxiety, ongoing trips to the doctor and, sometimes, unnecessary medical procedures. The guide presents a few insights and highlights common misconceptions about having health tests and scans.
Making Sense of Screening [PDF]
A guide to weighing up the benefits and harms of health screening programmes
Public expectations about screening don't match what screening programmes can deliver. By addressing misconceptions about how screening works, its limitations and the calculation of benefits and harms, scientists and clinicians hope to bridge the gap between the active debates of the scientific community and the concerns raised by the public.
Making Sense of Radiation [PDF]
A guide to radiation and its health effects
Many people have become anxious about exposure to non-ionising forms of radiation, from mobiles, Wi-Fi and masts. Together with scientists, engineers and medical professionals we identified some of the tools and insights that they themselves rely on to help deliver a clearer picture of what radiation is, what it does and what it can't do.
Making Sense of Chemical Stories [PDF]
A briefing document for the lifestyle sector on misconceptions about chemicals.
The guide flags up the more serious misconceptions that exist around chemicals and suggests straightforward ways to evaluate them. It is intended to open a conversation that promotes a stronger connection between lifestyle commentary and chemical realities.
Making Sense of GM [PDF]
What is the genetic modification of plants and why are scientists doing it?
The guide examines how GM has been debated in the past and presents commentary from scientists and agriculturalists. They respond to the public's questions and misconceptions and put GM into the context of developing plant breeding.
Making Sense of Weather and Climate [PDF]
An introduction to forecasts and predictions of weather events and climate change
We worked with climate and weather scientists to review how weather and climate issues are discussed in media coverage and policy debates. This briefing addresses what they noticed were frequent misunderstandings to avoid losing sight of the science amidst the rows about policy, the exaggeration and Hollywood-style presentation.
I've Got Nothing to Lose by Trying It [PDF]See also their pretty neat leaflets,
A guide to weighing up claims about cures and treatments
I Don't Know What to Believe [PDF], US version [PDF]
Making sense of science stories
This leaflet is for people who follow debates about science and medicine in the news. It explains how scientists present and judge research and how you can ask questions of the scientific information presented to you.
Peer Review and the Acceptance of New Scientific Ideas [PDF]
Discussion paper from a Working Party on equipping the public with an understanding of peer review.
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