Tag Archives: Sense about Science

Science, Scepticism and Free Speech: a series of three lectures in London, UK and online starting March 27, 2024

I received a March 1, 2024 announcement (email) from Sense about Science about a new lecture series starting in late March 2024,

Critical thinking, open inquiry and the freedom to question have been fundamental to the development of the scientific method and the expansion of knowledge. To explore these ideas further, we’re pleased to invite you to a series of lectures and discussions we are running in partnership with the Free Speech Union.

In Science, Scepticism and Free Speech, Professor Alan Sokal and Professor Paul Garner will make the case for why we should care about science but also question it, concluding with our director Tracey Brown and Toby Young discussing the relationship between science, the public and democratic decision-making.

Events will take place at 7.30pm on 27 March, 27 April and 29 May [2024] at the Art Workers’ Guild in central London. Tickets include a glass of wine, and each event will include plenty of time for audience questions.

f you can’t attend in person, we will send you a Zoom link to join online, free of charge, shortly before each event. Please put the dates in your diary now.

Here’s more from the events page,

We are holding a series of three lectures and discussions in partnership with The Free Speech Union, a public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members and campaigns for free speech more widely.

Critical thinking, open inquiry and the freedom to question have been fundamental to the development of the scientific method and the expansion of knowledge. The ideal of objectivity and the goal of truth require the discipline to abstract itself from individuals, from interests and from sentiment, all of which may explain why science is always subject to pressures on its integrity. 

SCIENCE, SCEPTICISM and FREE SPEECH is a unique series of three events – two lectures from eminent scientists and a final session bringing together public figures concerned with the relationship between science, the public and democratic decision-making. Each session will include plenty of time for audience Q and A. 

You are welcome to attend the entire series or individual events. It will also be possible to join online for free – sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you a link shortly before each event. Join our mailing list to watch online

In-person tickets for each event are £10 for FSU Members, £16 for members of the public, £12 for under-25s. Tickets include a glass of wine on arrival.

The individual events:

What is Science and Why Should We Care?

Wednesday 27 March, 2024, 7.30pm, The Hall, Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT. 

With Professor Alan Sokal,Professor of Mathematics, University College London and Professor Emeritus of Physics, New York University. 

Professor Sokal will draw out the unique contribution of the scientific method to human progress and address contemporary trends which threaten to undermine it, in particular, politicisation and censorship.  

About our speaker 

Famous for his 1996 hoax [emphasis mine; more info. about the hoax follows after the descriptions for the events], Professor Alan Sokal is one of the most powerful voices in the continuing debate about the status of evidence-based knowledge. He is co-author (with Jean Bricmont) of Intellectual Impostures: Postmodernist Philosophers’ Abuse of Science, and author of Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture.  

Get tickets

How We Learned to Question Medicine

Wednesday 24 April, 2024, 7.30pm, The Hall, Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT. 

With Professor Paul Garner, professor emeritus in Evidence Synthesis in Global Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.  

Professor Garner will argue that scepticism is integral to good science and make the case for using the tools of science to hold authority to account. Building on the themes of Professor Sokal’s first lecture, Professor Garner will share noteworthy examples where an insistence on robust evidence and research has led not only to scientific breakthroughs but to the exposure of malpractice. 

About our speaker 

Professor Garner stepped back from full-time employment in 2022 but continues as emeritus. He supports academic staff carrying out systematic reviews on infectious diseases, developing further research on post-viral syndrome, and continued collaborative work in developing guideline methods. He was previously Coordinator of the Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health, Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group, and Director of the Research, Evidence and Development Initiative. Professor Garner is also on the Board of Trustees of Sense about Science. 

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Science Under Pressure: Restoring Public Confidence

Wednesday 29th May, 2024, 7.30pm, The Hall, Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT. 

In this concluding conversation, our two speakers, Tracey Brown, Director of Sense about Science, and Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic, will reflect on the issues raised in the earlier lectures and debate how the relationship between science and the public might be improved. When does healthy scepticism become a refusal to accept well-evidenced truth? How can we uphold science without succumbing to ‘scientism’? How can the public distinguish between relevant expertise and those who merely have strong opinions and loud voices? 

About our speakers 

Tracey Brown OBE is the director of Sense about Science, where she has turned the case for sound science and evidence into popular campaigns, including AllTrials, a global campaign for the reporting of all clinical trial outcomes. Tracey leads Sense about Science’s work on transparency of decisions, to ensure the public has access to the same evidence as decision-makers. This has included drafting the Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice, and the Transparency of Evidence framework, now internationally emulated. In 2022 she led the What Counts? inquiry, and a national survey of the public’s experience of policy information during the pandemic, calling for all policy announcements to meet an evidence transparency standard. Tracey is honorary Professor, Science, Technology and Engineering in Public Policy at UCL.  

Toby Young is the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, a non-partisan, mass membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members. He co-founded four schools and a multi-academy trust in West London, served as a Fulbright Commissioner and is the author of four books, the best known of which is How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2001). He is an associate editor of the Spectator, where he’s written a weekly column since 1998, and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic. He was formerly an Associate Editor of Quillette and is the author or co-author of three peer reviewed academic articles. 

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Sokal Affair

As promised, here’s more about the hoax that Professor Alan Sokal perpetrated, from the Sokal affair Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,

The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax,[1] was a demonstrative scholarly hoax performed by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal’s intellectual rigor, specifically to investigate whether “a leading North American journal of cultural studies—whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross—[would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”[2]

The article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”,[3] was published in the journal’s spring/summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. The journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist.[3][4] Three weeks after its publication in May 1996, Sokal revealed in the magazine Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax.[2]

The hoax caused controversy about the scholarly merit of commentary on the physical sciences by those in the humanities; the influence of postmodern philosophy on social disciplines in general; and academic ethics, including whether Sokal was wrong to deceive the editors or readers of Social Text; and whether Social Text had abided by proper scientific ethics.

In 2008, Sokal published Beyond the Hoax, which revisited the history of the hoax and discussed its lasting implications.

So, it’s either in person in London, UK or by Zoom if you are on the mailing list. So you can, Get tickets for Lecture 1; Get tickets for Lecture 2; Get tickets for Lecture 3, or Join Sense about Science mailing list to watch online

November 2023 science events with a UK flavour

This list of events, which are in date order (more or less), comes courtesy of the UK’s Sense about Science organization. Self-described as “… an independent charity that promotes the public interest in sound science and evidence,” their November 13, 2023 announcement (received via email) offers a good range of events focused on science, evidence, and understanding the science you’re getting.

Greenwich (England) and Glasgow (Scotland) Skeptics pub talks

Here’s more from the Sense about Science November 13, 2023 announcement,

Greenwich and Glasgow Skeptics pub talks

Want to engage with us about the importance of evidence? We have two public talks coming up, which can be a great opportunity to learn more about our work, meet some of our team and explore how everyone can use evidence as a tool to improve our lives.

We’ll be at Davy’s Wine Vaults in Greenwich at 7pm tomorrow [Tuesday, November 14, 2023] and Admiral Woods Bar in Glasgow on Tuesday 21 November 2023.

I found out more about Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub (from the Skeptics in the Pub (SitP) website),

Welcome to Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub!

Greenwich SitP is currently the only branch of SitP in South East London. The idea is simple: Once a month, we all meet up in a pub to hear a guest speaker and enjoy a drink or three

The Royal Park of Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum, from the Observatory. Backdrop: the Canary Wharf business district. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Our chosen pub is the Davy’s Wine Vaults (161 Greenwich High Road, SE10 8JA) and usually we meet on the second Tuesday of every month. Talks will begin at 7:30pm. Although the talks are free and open to all, we would appreciate a small contribution towards covering speakers’ expenses (suggested donation: £3).

Our Next Talk

The Power of Asking for Evidence

Munkhbayar Elkins & Tushita Bagga
Sense about Science

14 November 2023 Tuesday 19:30

In a time of misinformation, purchasable blue ticks, and spurious claims to be ‘following the science’, how do we ask the right questions of information we find from social media, companies, and politicians? 66% of people think it’s important the government shows the public all the evidence used to make policy decisions. And yet, the sources of data used in policy making become more complex, modelling and big data being two key examples. But you don’t need to be an expert to ask the right questions. This talk will cover how to ask about the data behind the issues that matter to you, be that climate change or local healthcare policies. With examples of how people asking for evidence have made a real difference, we’ll show you how you can too, and why this is more important than ever in the lead up to a general election next year.

Munkhbayar is senior research and policy officer at Sense about Science, with a BA in International Relations and an MSc in Security Studies. He works closely with decision-makers, world-leading researchers and community groups to raise the standard of evidence in public life. He wants to promote transparency of evidence standard across government to ensure accountability and to equip society with the right skills to scrutinise 21st century decision-making.

Tushita serves as a Policy and Campaigns Officer at Sense about Science, where she works on the upcoming Transparency of Evidence Standard campaign and is responsible for co-ordinating the annual Evidence Week event at UK Parliament. She recently completed her master’s degree in social policy research at the London School of Economics. Her previous work has focused on the role of ethics in academics interacting with marginalised communities and in news media representations of public health approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic. Tush is passionate about the accessible dissemination of social science research to the public and is driven to enable the masses to critically analyse complex policy concepts.

NB: This talk replaces the one which was originally advertised.

A week later on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, this same talk will be given by a different speaker in a Glasgow (Scotland) pub,

The power of asking for evidence – Annie Howitt (Sense About Science)

November 21 [2023] @ 8:15 pm – 10:00 pm

In a time of misinformation, purchasable blue ticks, and spurious claims to be ‘following the science’, how do we ask the right questions of information we find from social media, companies, and politicians? 61% of people think it’s important the government shows the public all the evidence used to make policy decisions. And yet, the sources of data used in policy making become more complex, modelling and big data being two key examples. But you don’t need to be an expert to ask the right questions. This talk will cover how to ask about the data behind the issues that matter to you, be that climate change or local healthcare policies. With examples of how people asking for evidence have made a real difference, we’ll show you how you can too.

About the speaker: Annie is the Communities officer at the charity Sense about Science. During her PhD researching pancreatic cancer, she realised that so much of our understanding of cancer biology and treatments is inaccessible to the people it affects the most. That’s how she found Sense about Science, which works with researchers to equip the public, policymakers and media with good questions and insights into evidence, particularly on difficult issues. Recently, Sense about Science has published What Counts? (a scoping inquiry into how well the government’s evidence for covid-19 decisions served society), guides to understanding data science and AI. It also runs Evidence Week in Parliament at Westminster and in Holyrood, bringing together policy makers, researchers and the public, and, in partnership with the journal Nature, the John Maddox Prize for courageously advancing public discourse with sound science.

This is event is free to attend, although we will be asking for donations at the end of the talk. Participants are under no obligation whatsoever to donate, however please rest assured that the money we collect doesn’t end up in anyone’s pocket – it is used to fund our overhead costs, and travel/accommodation for our speakers who come from further afield.

Accessibility: The Admiral Woods Bar now has a functioning lift which can take wheelchair users (or others who are unable to manage stairs) down to the function room. There is also a disabled toilet in the function room too. To help us accommodate you if you require to use these facilities we recommend you email us in advance: contact@glasgowskeptics.com

Venue

The Admiral Woods Bar 29 Waterloo Street
Glasgow, G2 6BZ United Kingdom + Google Map

UNESCO (Global) Media (and) Information Literacy Week 2023: a webinar on Thursday, November 16, 2023

According to their November 13, 2023 announcement, Sense about Science will be chairing a panel discussion,

UNESCO [Global] Media [and] Information Literacy week webinar

Join us online as we chair a live panel discussion on what infrastructure is needed for people to access sound evidence, find trustworthy sources, and engage in informed debate.

What societal infrastructure is needed for information literate citizens to thrive? is hosted by the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) to mark UNESCO [Global] Media [and] Information Literacy Week at 2pm GMT Thursday 16 November 2023 – register for free to participate in discussions.

There are more details on the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) event page,

Schedule (Time Zone: New York)

  • 9:00 – 9:10: Welcome
  • 9:10 – 9:15: Introduction
  • 9:15 – 10:00: Live Panel Discussion
  • 10:00 – 10:30: Live Q&A

Note: Presumably these are morning hours, i.e., 9 a.m ET.

Speakers

  • Host: Ning Zou, Chair, Information Literacy Section, IFLA|Associate Director for Student Academic Services and Learning Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Education
  • Panel Chair: David Schley, Deputy Director, Sense about Science
  • Angeline Djampou, Head, Knowledge and Publications Management Unit, UN Environment Programme 
  • TBC Deborah Jacobs,  Stichting IFLA Global Libraries (SIGL) Board of Directors 
  • Stephen Wyber,  Director of Policy and Advocacy, IFLA 

Theme and Focus

When the introduction of disposable beverage containers increased litter in the US, the response of producers was to launch a keep America beautiful campaign that placed the blame on consumers – the end users. In many countries it has taken over half a century for regulators to step in and deal with the problem of waste by, for example, prohibiting the use of free plastic bags or by making retailers take back unwanted packaging. But we still largely blame consumers for waste, despite them having little choice in practice about how goods are packaged.

Are we at risk of doing the same for consumers of information, overwhelmed by the volume of material available but not in control over what content is presented to them– by blaming poor information literacy for the spread of false information and misunderstanding?

While empowering citizens with information literacy is unquestionably good, is it enough? Or are we setting people up to fail in an attention economy where information providers surface content that maximised engagement, with no interest in whether it is accurate or useful? Is it fair to blame someone for naïvely sharing bad information when they are only fed corroborating material, or should we challenge the absence of regulation and oversight of how information is curated by social media platforms and search engines?

What infrastructure is needed for people to access sound evidence, find trustworthy sources, and genuinely engage in informed societal debate?

Join the IFLA Information Literacy Section and the School Library Section co-sponsored Global MIL Webinar and have a rich conversation with the invited panelists.

Registration is required and free.

Royal Statistical Society (RSS) workshop on developing accessible health statistics on Monday, November 20, 2023

This is the last event noted in the November 13, 2023 Sense about Science announcement,

Royal Statistical Society workshop on developing accessible health statistics

On Monday 20 November 2023, our Deputy-director David Schley will be part of a panel discussing how organisations producing health statistics across the UK can ensure their data is accessible and meaningful to the public.

This is a hybrid event at the Royal Statistical Society, run by the Official Statistics section but open to the public for a fee.

I have more details from the RSS’s event page,

Official Statistics and Health: Developing coherent and accessible health statistics: a UK perspective (Online)

Date: Monday 20 November 2023, 1.00PM – 5.30PM [GMT?]
Location: Online

Event costs:

Concessionary RSS Fellow £10
RSS CStat/GradStat £12.50
RSS Fellow £15
Non-members £20

During this afternoon of discussion, we will be exploring with our panels the approaches and challenges faced by organisations producing health related statistics across the UK to ensure the numbers and messages produced are accessible and meaningful to the public and other users.

In the first session (1-3pm), the panel will cover work across government departments and organisations to create a coherent system to produce comparable statistics across the four nations of the UK. They will touch upon the importance of presenting a coherent picture across the UK, at national and subnational levels, the data challenges, including how the definitions used can change the meaning of the statistics produced and how the public understand them.  We will hear the experiences from people working in that area to improve the coherence of our statistical system to those that used these statistics to inform policy. 

Our panel will include the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation Ed Humpherson, Lucy Vickers, Deputy Director – Statistics & Data Science at the Department for Health and Social Care, Julie Stanborough, Deputy Director for Health and Social Care Analysis at the Office for National Statistics with colleagues Michelle Waters and Heidi Wilson who work together with colleagues across the four nations on improving the UK-wide coherence on health statistics. They will be joined by William Perks (Head of health, social services and population statistics, Welsh Government), and colleagues from Scotland and Northern Ireland. We are also looking to bring into the discussion the perspectives from local authorities around the challenges of low-granularity meaningful statistics.

After a break, the second session (3.30-5.30pm) will discuss how we communicate statistics to users in a sensitive and accessible manners. The language of statistics, especially in the health context can be extremely technical and emotionally charged with words such as ‘risks’, ‘hazards’ and ‘uncertainty’. Those terms have a very specific meaning for a statistician which differs from the one the general public gives to these words. In this session, our panellists will share their experience in communicating sometimes complex concepts to a wide audience, balancing transparent and accurate reporting with accessibility.  They will share what they have tried, what worked and what did not and ideas to communicate clearly in that area, in a time where misleading information spreads fast and that mistakes in communication have the potential to damage the trust users have in the organisations producing the statistics.

The second panel will include both statistics producers (ONS engagement hub lead, and Lucy Vickers from DHSC, William Perks from Welsh Government) and the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation Ed Humpherson, individuals that champions promoting public understanding of statistics (David Schley from Sense about Science, Rhian Davies a RSS Statistics Ambassador), and charity and users groups.

Book now

Final note

Thank you to the librarians for this:

When the introduction of disposable beverage containers increased litter in the US, the response of producers was to launch a keep America beautiful campaign that placed the blame on consumers [emphasis mine] – the end users. In many countries it has taken over half a century for regulators to step in and deal with the problem of waste by, for example, prohibiting the use of free plastic bags or by making retailers take back unwanted packaging. But we still largely blame consumers for waste, despite them having little choice in practice about how goods are packaged. [[emphases mine]

Are we at risk of doing the same for consumers of information, overwhelmed by the volume of material available but not in control over what content is presented to them– by blaming poor information literacy for the spread of false information and misunderstanding? …

Hopefully, there’s something to your taste in this range of upcoming events.

Data science guide from Sense about Science

Sense about Science, headquartered in the UK, is in its own words (from its homepage)

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

According to an October 1, 2019 announcement from Sense about Science (received via email), the organization has published a new guide,

Our director warned yesterday [September 30, 2019] that data science is being given a free
pass on quality in too many arenas. From flood predictions to mortgage offers to the prediction of housing needs, we are not asking enough about whether AI solutions and algorithms can bear the weight we want to put on them.

It was the UK launch of our ‘Data Science: a guide for society’ at the Institute of Physics, where we invited representatives from different sectors to take up the challenge of creating a more questioning culture. Tracey Brown said the situation was like medicine 50 years ago: it seems that some people have become too clever to explain and the rest of us are feeling too dumb to ask.

At the end of the event we had a lot of proposals for how to make different communities aware of the guide’s three fundamental questions from the people who attended. There are many hundreds of people among our friends who could do something along these lines:

     * Publicise the guide
     * Incorporate it into your own work
     * Send it to people who are involved in procurement, licensing or
reporting or decision making at community, national and international
levels
     * Undertake a project with us to equip particular groups such as
parliamentary advisers, journalists and small charities.

Would you take a look at the guide [1] here and tell me if there’s something you can do? (alex@senseaboutscience.org)

There are launches planned in other countries over the rest of this year and into 2020. We are drawing up a map of offers to reach different communities. I’ll share all your suggestions with my colleague Errin Riley at the end of this week and we will get back to you quickly.

Before linking you to the guide, here’s a brief description from the Patterns in Data webpage,

In recent years, phrases like ‘big data’, ‘machine learning’, ‘algorithms’ and ‘pattern recognition’ have started slipping into everyday discussion. We’ve worked with researchers and experts to generate an open and informed public discussion on patterns in data across a wide range of projects.

Data Science: A guide for society

According to the headlines, we’re in the middle of a ‘data revolution: large, detailed datasets and complex algorithms allow us to make predictions on anything from who will win the league to who is likely to commit a crime. Our ability to question the quality of evidence – as the public, journalists, politicians or decision makers – needs to be expanded to meet this. To know the questions to ask and how to press for clarity about the strengths and weaknesses of using analysis from data models to make decisions. This is a guide to having more of those conversations, regardless of how much you don’t know about data science.

Here’s Data Science: A Guide for Society.

Algorithms in decision-making: a government inquiry in the UK

Yesterday’s (Feb. 28, 2017) posting about the newly launched Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative grew too big to include interesting tidbits such as this one from Sense about Science, (from a Feb. 28, 2017 announcement received via email),

The House of Commons science and technology select committee announced
today that it will launch an inquiry into the use of algorithms in
decision-making […].

Our campaigns and policy officer Dr Stephanie Mathisen brought this
important and under-scrutinised issue to the committee as part of their
#MyScienceInquiry initiative; so fantastic news that they are taking up
the call.

A Feb. 28, 2017 UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee press release gives more details about the inquiry,

The Science and Technology Committee is launching a new inquiry into the use of algorithms in public and business decision making.

In an increasingly digital world, algorithms are being used to make decisions in a growing range of contexts. From decisions about offering mortgages and credit cards to sifting job applications and sentencing criminals, the impact of algorithms is far reaching.

How an algorithm is formulated, its scope for error or correction, the impact it may have on an individual—and their ability to understand or challenge that decision—are increasingly relevant questions.

This topic was pitched to the Committee by Dr Stephanie Mathisen (Sense about Science) through the Committee’s ‘My Science Inquiry’ open call for inquiry suggestions, and has been chosen as the first subject for the Committee’s attention following that process. It follows the Committee’s recent work on Robotics and AI, and its call for a standing Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Submit written evidence

The Committee would welcome written submissions by Friday 21 April 2017 on the following points:

  • The extent of current and future use of algorithms in decision-making in Government and public bodies, businesses and others, and the corresponding risks and opportunities;
  • Whether ‘good practice’ in algorithmic decision-making can be identified and spread, including in terms of:
    —  The scope for algorithmic decision-making to eliminate, introduce or amplify biases or discrimination, and how any such bias can be detected and overcome;
    — Whether and how algorithmic decision-making can be conducted in a ‘transparent’ or ‘accountable’ way, and the scope for decisions made by an algorithm to be fully understood and challenged;
    — DThe implications of increased transparency in terms of copyright and commercial sensitivity, and protection of an individual’s data;
  • Methods for providing regulatory oversight of algorithmic decision-making, such as the rights described in the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016.

The Committee would welcome views on the issues above, and submissions that illustrate how the issues vary by context through case studies of the use of algorithmic decision-making.

You can submit written evidence through the algorithms in decision-making inquiry page.

I looked at the submission form and while it assumes the submitter is from the UK, there doesn’t seem to be any impediment to citizens of other countries from making a submission. Since there is some personal information included as part of the submission, there is a note about data protection on the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons webpage.

Job at Sense about Science

Sense about Science is advertising for a Campaigns Manager. From the job posting webpage on the website,

Sense about Science is an independent campaigning charity that monitors and challenges the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence in public life. We advocate for openness and honesty about scientific claims and findings, and mobilise the public to ask questions about science and evidence.

We are recruiting for this post to run the AllTrials campaign and parts of other Sense About Science campaigns and responsive work, reporting to the campaigns director. The AllTrials campaign for clinical trials transparency has already resulted in new regulations, commitments from organisations and support from thousands of people. We now need to build a vibrant international campaign, coordinating activity across the many groups championing trial reporting to change the culture of clinical trial reporting forever.

The role will include:

  • Day to day running of the AllTrials campaign:
    • Developing publicity and communications on the need for clinical trial transparency, including in the media, for supporters, in fundraising appeals and grant applications
    • Coordinating campaign responses to public and political consultations
    • Building and maintaining networks of organisations and experts, in the UK and globally, and coordinating activity
    • Liaising with the team at Sense About Science USA and helping to coordinate AllTrials work in the US
    • Organising and running meetings and communications with the AllTrials campaign steering group
    • Managing Campaign Support Officer, campaign interns and campaign volunteers
  • Supporting the Director of Campaigns in devising and implementing campaign strategies, deputising for the Director of Campaigns
  • Initiating responsive campaigns to new issues and linking our body of work to new discussions
  • Representing Sense About Science at meetings, giving talks, chairing sessions and writing articles

The successful candidate will be articulate, motivated and ambitious about social change. It is a busy office and no two days are the same so you need to be able to plan well but adapt quickly. The ideal candidate will need:

  • a higher degree in a related subject and a background in research
  • experience of building and maintaining networks
  • experience coordinating and delivering projects and a well-tested ability to prioritise
  • the ability to analyse situations and act when in uncertain territory
  • confident and personable communication and a demonstrable ability to produce good written material which is suited to public awareness campaigns
  • good judgment and negotiating skills

Salary c. £28K – £32K. Holiday: 28 days (inc public holidays), 1 additional day after each year in post, and discretionary Christmas break days. Central London (EC1R). Will include some international travel and out of hours activity.

Email a CV and cover letter to the assistant director Emily Jesper ejesper@senseaboutscience.org by midnight on Friday 18th March 2016 [emphasis mine]. Please call Emily if you want to discuss the post and your suitability: 020 7490 9590.

If you don’t have a CV that matches the requirements but you are absolutely convinced you are right for us and this role, feel free to write to us to make the case.

Good luck and don’t forget the deadline is March 18, 2016.

Job: Sense about Science is looking for a Campaigns & Policy Officer

I received a notice yesterday (Sept. 7, 2015 which is Labour Day in Canada) about a job (deadline is Sept. 18, 2015 at 12 noon GMT or Sept. 18, 2015 at 4 am PST) with Sense about Science (UK),

Sense About Science is a charity that equips people to make sense of evidence. We are a source of information and we counter misinformation. We work with thousands of researchers and hundreds of organisations across civil society to run imaginative public campaigns that change debates.

We have a vacancy for a Campaigns & Policy Officer, which is an interesting and varied role to support Sense About Science’s campaigns – including AllTrials, Ask for Evidence and the Libel Reform Campaign – and our policy and responsive work.

Duties will include:

  • Monitoring social media, publicity and policy issues related to our work.
  • Conducting research for and writing briefings, presentations and reports.
  • Organising responses to public and policy consultations.
  • Being the first line of response to public enquiries, initiating responses to new issues and linking existing material to new discussions.
  • Giving talks, writing articles, and representing Sense About Science at meetings.

It’s a busy, lively office where we all muck in and no two days are the same. You need to be able to plan well but adapt quickly. As well as a passion for evidence, good team spirit and an appetite for responsibility, you will need:

  • A good degree; and ideally either a PhD or equivalent research experience.
  • Very good analytical skills.
  • An understanding of debates about evidence and a keen interest in civil society engagement and the policy environment.
  • A flair for clear, non-academic writing.
  • Confidence and a high standard of presentation.
  • Enthusiasm, ambition and diplomacy.

However, if you don’t have a CV that matches the requirements but you are absolutely convinced you are right for us and this role, feel free to write to us to make the case. 

Starting salary c. £20K.  1 year fixed-term contract. Holiday 20 days. Central London (EC1R). Will include some travel and out of hours activity.

Email a CV and cover letter to the assistant director Emily Jesper: ejesper@senseaboutscience.org. Please do call Emily if you want to discuss the post or your suitability: 020 7490 9590.

*CLOSING DATE Friday 18th September 2015 12:00 (noon).

Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete a written task by 24th September. Interviews: 1st/2nd October. It is essential that you explore our work before applying www.senseaboutscience.org.

Good luck!

Standing up for science: 2015 call for John Maddox Prize nominations

I received a notice from the UK’s ‘sense about science’ organization rregarding nominations for its 2015 John Maddox Prize (or the ‘standing up for science’ prize). Before proceeding to the announcement, the John Maddox Prize webpage provides some information about John Maddox and the prize or there’s this video originally prepared for the 2014 call for nominations,

From the April 9, 2015 sense about science announcement,

Do you know someone who has promoted sound science and evidence?

Nominate them for the 2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science.

The John Maddox Prize rewards an individual who has promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest. Its emphasis is on those who have faced difficulty or hostility in doing so. Nominations of active researchers who have yet to receive recognition for their public-interest work are particularly welcomed.

The winner of the John Maddox Prize will receive £2000, and an announcement of the winner will be published in Nature. The award is presented at a reception in November.

Full details and online nomination form here.

The deadline is 11:59 pm BST on Aug.20,  2015. Here are more details from the 2015 John Maddox Prize webpage,

The prize is open to nominations for any kind of public activity, including all forms of writing, speaking and public engagement, in any of the following areas:

Addressing misleading information about scientific or medical issues.
Bringing sound evidence to bear in a public or policy debate.
Helping people to make sense of a complex scientific issue.

The winner of the John Maddox Prize will receive £2000, and an announcement of the winner will be published in Nature. The award is presented at a reception in November.

Evaluation
The judging panel in 2015 consists of Tracey Brown (director, Sense About Science), Phil Campbell (editor-in-chief, Nature), Lord Rees of Ludlow FRS and Professor Colin Blakemore FRS. Judges sit in a personal capacity. Candidates will be judged on the strength of their nomination based on the below criteria:

How clearly the individual communicated good science, despite adversity.
The nature of adversity faced by the individual.
How well they placed the evidence in the wider debate and engaged others.
Their level of influence on the public debate.

The winner is chosen by the judging panel, not by Sense About Science. A shortlist will be announced at the judges’ discretion.

Nomination
Researchers in any area of science or engineering, or those who work to address misleading information and bring evidence to the public, are eligible to be nominated. Nominations are to take the form of a letter of recommendation and include biographical information on the candidate and a description of the candidate’s work in standing up for science. Permission must be sought from the nominee. The individual nominated, the referee, and the nominator may be contacted for more information including references.

Staff, trustees and directors of the supporting organisations and previous or current members of the judging panel and their direct relations are not eligible for nomination for the Prize, though they may nominate. It is open to anyone else, including people who have published with or worked with either organisation as contributors, advisers or in other collaborations.

Good luck! As far as I can tell, there are no residency requirements so this competition is open internationally.

Job at Sense About Science

For anyone who’s not familiar with Sense About Science (from a Jan. 8, 2015 email),

Sense About Science is the UK based charity that puts science and evidence in the hands of the public. We are a source of information, we challenge misinformation and we champion sound science and evidence. We run award winning campaigns to promote open discussion about evidence, free from stigma and intimidation.

Here is the job posting (from the Jan. 8, 2015 email),

Campaigns Manager

We are recruiting for this new post, reporting to the campaigns director, to run the AllTrials campaign and parts of other Sense About Science campaigns and responsive work.

The AllTrials campaign for clinical trials transparency has already resulted in new regulations, commitments from organisations and support from thousands of people. We now need to extend internationally, coordinating activity across many groups, including patients, publishers, regulators, funders and companies, to get past and future trials reported.

You will manage the AllTrials campaign activities large and small

–          in the UK, with a campaign support officer and volunteers, and the AllTrials steering group,

–          internationally, working with Sense About Science USA and building international relationships.

The post will involve initiating responsive campaigns to new issues and linking our body of work to new discussions. It will involve presenting our work and aims in a variety of forums, from senior government officials to community talks; chairing meetings; and writing articles.

You will work with the campaigns director to devise and implement strategies for AllTrials, and deputise for her, taking a hand in the broader campaign work and Sense About Science.

The successful candidate will be articulate, motivated and ambitious about social change. It is a busy office and no two days are the same so you need to be able to plan well but adapt quickly. The ideal candidate will need:

  • a higher degree in a related subject and a background in research
  • experience of building and maintaining networks
  • experience coordinating and delivering projects and a well-tested ability to prioritise
  • the ability to analyse situations and act when in uncertain territory
  • confident and personable communication and a demonstrable ability to produce good written material which is suited to public awareness campaigns
  • good judgment and negotiating skills

Salary c. £28K – £32K. Holiday: 28 days (inc public holidays), 1 additional day after each year in post, and discretionary Christmas break days. Central London (EC1R). Will include some international travel and out of hours activity.

Email a CV and cover letter to the assistant director Emily Jesper ejesper@senseaboutscience.org by midnight on Thursday 21st January 2015. Interviews will be on Monday 2nd February 2015. Please call director of campaigns Síle Lane if you want to discuss the post and your suitability: 020 7490 9590.

If you don’t have a CV that matches the requirements but you are absolutely convinced you are right for us and this role, feel free to write to us to make the case.

I very much appreciate the final paragraph in the excerpt above. It’s nice to see an organization take a more flexible approach to the recruiting process. You can find the job posting on the Sense About Science website.