Ever found yourself frustrated at the lack of evidence behind dubious scientific claims? I certainly have. If this sounds familiar then Sense About Science is an organisation well worth becoming involved with.
From questionable celebrity endorsements (fancy following the intravenous vitamin craze like Simon Cowell?!) to campaigning for libel law reform; Sense About Science seeks to champion the use of robust scientific evidence. They work with scientists and members of the public to change public debates and to equip people to make sense of science and evidence.
The Biochemical Society support Sense About Science and have collaborated on a number of projects, including the Voice of Young Science (VoYS) programme which encourages early career researchers to play an active role in public debates about science.
Another area where the Biochemical Society interacts with Sense About Science is the Plant Science Panel. This endeavour seeks to bring together leading research institutions and learned societies across the UK to make themselves available in a public panel, where you can put down questions and opinions for response. Now four months old, the panel is becoming increasingly popular; over 200 questions have been answered and the web pages have had over 8,000 views.
Through the plant science panel, Sense About Science and the Biochemical Society are continuing to bring new people and organisations into discussions about plant science. Q&A session topics have included bees and pesticides (particularly topical given the recent EU moratorium on neonicotinoids) and the properties an ‘ideal superwheat’ would have.
Dr Ellen Colebrook, a postdoctoral researcher at Rothamsted Research and a former member of the Biochemical Society’s Policy Committee said: “I agreed to be part of the plant science panel as I thought it seemed like an innovative initiative and a good way of communicating with the public about the work that plant scientists do.” She continued: “I’ve found it really interesting to see the kind of questions that the public are asking, and I’m enjoying the challenge of answering questions that are quite different to those I’m asked by other scientists. Overall, I think it’s a great project and I’m excited to be part of it.”
If you’d like to become more involved with Sense About Science, including with the Plant Science Panel, you can become a supporter and campaign or volunteer, fundraise, or offer expertise.
So next time you spot an irrational scientific claim or dubious marketing ploy, know that Sense About Science are on hand to champion the use of appropriate scientific evidence. If only Simon Cowell knew the same…