The peer review system can help cut through the uncertainty and obfuscation. Yet few members of the public other than scientists know what peer review is or how it can be used.
A charitable trust based in London called Sense about Science aims to change that inadequacy. It is promoting several initiatives to help the average citizen learn how to question scientific claims and to encourage people to demand that anyone providing“scientific“ results reveal whether those results have been peer reviewed.
On February 13, for example, Sense about Science launched a U.S. campaign called Ask for Evidence to prompt people to question scientific-sounding information. Leaders from the organization held a “boot camp“ at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Mass., where men and women in its Voice of Young Science USA program planned ways to spread the campaign nationwide. They also decided to target several specific topics:dietary supplements, gun control policy and fracking for natural gas, as well aschanging weather patterns, so-called superfoods, vaccinations, alternative medicine and radiation. The program encourages early career researchers to play an active role in public debates about science.