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What Works Global Summit. Register now.

Putting evidence at the heart of policy and practice. 26th - 28th September.

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Plant Science Panel

Insecticides, biofuels, GMOs …

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'The Ugly Truth'

by Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science

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Measuring government transparency

New framework rates use of evidence

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About us

Sense about Science is an independent campaigning charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. 

We advocate openness and honesty about research findings, and work to ensure the public interest in sound science and evidence is recognised in public discussion and policy making. We focus on socially and scientifically difficult issues such as agriculture and energy where evidence is neglected, politicised or misleading.

Sense about Science is a small team working with thousands of supporters, from world-leading researchers to community groups. 

Why we exist

Sense about Science was founded in 2001 when media scare stories – from the MMR wars to mobile phones ‘frying your brain’ – were rife, and public confidence in science was at an all-time low. Scientists were on the fringe of public debates and there was a sense among the research community that reaching out to the public was impossible. Sense about Science was set up to advocate for and support the public interest in sound science, and to encourage scientists to participate in public discussion.

Scientific evidence can be a powerful tool for insight, accountability and change. Yet public life often revolves around claims based on poor or misrepresented evidence: risks are hidden or exaggerated, policies are based on anecdotes instead of analysis, scientific studies are taken out of context or distorted. When evidence is misrepresented, misunderstood or hidden, our ability to make the best decisions for ourselves and society and to hold those in power to account, is diminished. 

We want a society founded on openness: where those with power – institutions, companies, politicians and government bodies – give a frank account of the evidence behind claims they make in the public realm.

What we do

  • We challenge the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life and intervene – often in partnership with others – to hold those responsible to account. 
  • We mobilise the public to ask for evidence, offering insight into how to analyse evidence and ask the right questions.
  • We encourage researchers and decision makers to talk about evidence, particularly when it is controversial or difficult.
  • We call for open and honest reporting of research, and we support researchers who speak out in the face of hostility or intimidation.
  • We prioritise the socially and scientifically difficult issues – like plant science and energy.

What we don't do

  • We don’t teach science.
  • We don’t promote research as a sector or funding priority.
  • We don’t serve political or commercial aims.
  • We don’t tell people how to behave in their private lives or offer personal health advice.

How we are run

Sense about Science is a registered charity run by a board of trustees. It has a London-based director and staff, with representatives in Scotland an EU office and a sister organisation in the US. Sense about Science is widely supported by the research community and maintains a broad funding base, which includes the public, foundations, professional societies, universities, and scholarly publishers. We are committed to openness and independence.

We depend on donations, large and small, from people who support our work.

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