Top 20 things politicians need to know about science

Dennis Wilkinson

What are the basic scientific concepts that civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists should know? William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter and Mark A. Burgman put together a list of top 20 tips for non-scientists to ponder:

  1. Differences and chance cause variation. 
  2. No measurement is exact.
  3. Bias is rife.
  4. Randomization avoids bias.
  5. Bigger is usually better for sample size.
  6. Correlation does not imply causation.
  7. Regression to the mean can mislead.
  8. Seek replication, not pseudoreplication.
  9. Scientists are human.
  10. Significance is significant.
  11. Separate no effect from non-significance.
  12. Effect size matters.
  13. Study relevance limits generalizations.
  14. Feelings influence risk perception.
  15. Data can be dredged or cherry picked.
  16. Extrapolating beyond the data is risky.
  17. Beware the base-rate fallacy.
  18. Controls are important.
  19. Dependencies change the risks.
  20. Extreme measurements may mislead.

Read the full article here.

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