Sense About Science
February 28, 2013 7:08 AM   Subscribe

With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, Sense About Science works in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. They make these scientists available for questions from civic organizations and the public looking for scientific advice from experts, campaign for the promotion of scientific principles in public policy, and publish neat guides to understanding science intended for laypeople.

These are pretty neat guides, basic enough to be accessible to most anyone but also in-depth enough that even knowledgable laypeople can expect to learn something new,

The Making Sense Of series:
Making sense of Statistics [PDF]
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.
Other Guides
I've Got Nothing to Lose by Trying It [PDF]
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.
See also their pretty neat leaflets,
Sense About Systematic Reviews [PDF]
Sense About The Energy Gap [PDF]
Sense About Homeopathy [PDF]
Sense About Brain Gym [PDF]
Sense About Chiropractic [PDF]
Sense About Anti-EMF Products [PDF]
Sense About Lie Detectors [PDF]
If you need help or information on a difficult or contravertial area of science call Sense About Science on [UK] 020 7478 4380
posted by Blasdelb (9 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Now THIS is a post!
posted by DU at 7:16 AM on February 28, 2013

I love when Blasdelb posts about science. I'm sending this to my scientist friends.
posted by Lord Force Crater at 7:30 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lord Force Crater, your scientist friends might actually be most interested in something I left out of the post, their Voice of Young Science project.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:40 AM on February 28, 2013

This looks like a great resource. I glanced through Making Sense of Screening and not only was it good, but I learned a new word: We also liaised with some helpful members of the public...
posted by TedW at 7:47 AM on February 28, 2013

There are honestly a lot of medical AskMe questions that either the Screening or Testing one are really the best answer to
posted by Blasdelb at 8:06 AM on February 28, 2013

Is there an easy way (ie. a .zip file) to download all of these guides at once?
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:30 AM on February 28, 2013

As someone who just had a round of heart tests because of an off-hand comment by a radiologist who was supposed to be looking at my pneumonia, I can get behind some of these assertions.

It was sort of worth it to see the heart specialist do a double-take when he saw me for the first time. On paper/film I've just had a heat attack.

In reality, no such thing has ever happened to me. The Symptoms Are Not The Territory.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:36 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The guides appear to all be Creative Common (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives). Share away!
posted by vasi at 8:50 AM on February 28, 2013

This is FANTASTIC and I am sending links to all my labmates.
posted by a hat out of hell at 8:09 PM on February 28, 2013

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