I recently went to a talk by Sense about Science about the fantastic work they do at the forefront of the interface between science, marketing, policy making and the media. They have successfully worked with champions of transparency in research and quality of evidence, such as Ben Goldacre and David Nutt and have many ongoing campaigns which you can read about on their website.
But my topic today is my experience with one of their campaigns, Ask for Evidence, which is a very simple campaign aiming to encourage and support people to ask companies and individuals to provide the scientific evidence behind the claims they make. You can find many examples of this on their website, but what I am writing about today is my own experience of doing this.
As you may be able to tell (if you’ve looked) from the haphazard content of my (admittedly infrequent) blog posts, I like to write about things that annoy me. And there is nothing that annoys me more than the publication and popularisation of unscientific claims, based on poor or non-existent evidence. So, understandably, the ask for evidence campaign really appealed to me. And it also inspired me to act on a recent experience of my own.
Following an eye test at Vision Express, I was informed that although my level of myopia (shortsightedness) had not changed, there was a very small degree of astigmatism in one eye that was not corrected for in my current glasses.
I was then passed from the optician to the sales team, who asked me if I would like to buy new glasses. I chose not to because I was happy with my current frames and there was no difference in prescription in terms of the strength of the lenses required.
I informed the salesperson of my decision and was told that this was my choice but that my eyesight would “get worse” (the salesperson was not specific about how) if I did not buy new glasses that were corrected for astigmatism.
With the support of the Ask for Evidence team at Sense about Science, I have now written to Vision Express to ask for the evidence behind this claim. I have also written up my experience for publication both on the Sense for Science website and for this blog, and I am awaiting a response. I will update this if and when I receive one.