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Lord Krebs, Chair of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
Everyone should have a mental tool kit for interpreting what they read in the media
“Everyone should have a mental tool kit for interpreting what they read in the media, see on TV, hear on the radio, hear politicians or 'experts' claiming. A key part of the toolkit is asking for the evidence, and understanding how good the evidence is. Does prison deter re-offenders? Does wearing a cycle helmet help to reduce your chance of serious injury? Does culling badgers help to control TB? Does class size influence the academic achievement of pupils? Confident assertions are often made in the evidence-free zone, or are based on very weak evidence, or on selective interpretation of the data. A couple of years ago, I asked the government whether or not class size affects pupil attainment. I was told that the evidence shows that it does not beyond reception year. When I tracked down the original papers, this is not what the evidence showed. It indicated that there is little effect once class size is above a certain level, but below this class size counts.”