A guide to asking for evidence


Who do I ask?

Anyone you want. But remember that sometimes the evidence relevant to an issue is only part of the equation or just isn’t all that important. We don’t want to live in a Spock-from-Star-Trek like world in which no one is allowed to have an opinion without first undertaking a systematic review!

Ask for Evidence isn’t necessarily about leading an evidence-based life; it is about holding powerful figures to account and not having the wool pulled over our eyes on important issues. It is making sure that a discussion of the evidence is happening when it really matters. That might be when a public figure or authority makes a claim or decision on our behalf; or when public money or our health or safety is at stake.

How do I ask?

You can email the company, politician, journalist or official body making the claim direct through this site – these days it’s fairly easy to find contact addresses or forms on websites. There are tips to find email addresses below.

If you can't find an email address, you can ask in person or on the phone and still use this site to track what you're doing and share the result.

How do I find the right email address to send my request to?

  • If asking an organisation, try to find media relations or customer support contacts
  • Try an online search for the person or organisation along with the words ‘email address’ or ‘contact’
  • If you can’t find an email address you might be able to phone to ask

Asking the EU for evidence

If you want to know the evidence behind an EU legislation or policy decision, start by asking ​your MEP​​.

You can find the MEPs of your ​country or ​constituency on the website of the European Parliament here.

If you're still not sure which MEP to ask, one option is to search for MEPs that are a members of​ a committee relevant to what you're asking about.

​If you're having trouble finding the right person in Brussels to ask, or if you don't receive a reply, you can ask our Brussels office for assistance at eu@senseaboutscience.org​.

What do I ask?

When you Ask for Evidence, ask them about the science behind the claim: What kind of testing has been done (controlled, blinded tests; a clinical trial; lab studies on an ingredient)? What is the mechanism behind the science? Ask about the status of evidence for the claim: Has the research been peer reviewed and published? Has it been replicated?

The answers to these questions should give you a good indication about whether the claims stack up. See the 'Understanding Evidence' section of this site for more tips on what's reliable evidence.

Be polite!

The scientific process is impartial. You might begin a science experiment with a prediction on what will happen, but you don’t let your preconceptions affect the outcome. Neither should you let any misgivings you might have about a claim colour your ‘ask’. You might find there is suitable evidence to back it up so it’s important to let whoever is making the claim have the chance to show you their evidence.

It’s just as important to applaud the good use of evidence as it is to hold those misusing evidence to account. The Ask for Evidence campaign is about improving the expectation of evidence in everyday life – it’s not going to achieve that if people misuse it and make a nuisance of themselves.

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