Monday, 17 May 2010

What would you like the science to prove?

It's not just in the field of lead shot that everyone claims science is on their side. Check out this post about the latest study on mobile phones: depending on your preference, mobile phones do, don't, or might cause cancer. And while there's the slightest element of uncertainty, you can guarantee that someone will be calling for a ban on the precautionary principle.

My defences go up whenever I read the words "new research shows...". The way journalism works, the sub-text is "someone wants you to believe...". It's a sure thing the story came via a press release issued by someone with an axe to grind. And if you know what you're doing, you can make just about any statistics say what you want them to (Here are some of the techniques used).

That's worth remembering when we're discussing the alleged "risks" of using lead shot. We should always ask to see not just the original data, but who conducted it, who funded it, and what they set out to prove.

1 comment:

vicky said...

True. There is good research and bad research- unfortunatley not many people are trained to review the quality of the science before them and too many believe everything the newpapers tell them.