Evidence Soup
How to find, use, and explain evidence.

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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

What's the harm of neglected evidence, bad science, and misinformation? Quite a lot, it turns out.

On Twitter I ran across a really interesting guy named Tim Farley (@krelnik), who has a web site called What's the Harm? The site is like a wiki of horror stories from people who neglected or ignored the evidence. They arrange the items into numerous categories such as herbal remedies, voo doo, or feng shui.

Here's how they describe what they do: "This site is designed to make a point about the danger of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill. We have collected the stories of over 670,000 people who have been injured or killed as a result of someone not thinking critically.

"We do this not to make light of their plight. Quite the opposite. We want to honor their memory and learn from their stories. We also wish to call attention to the types of misinformation which have caused this sort of harm. On the topics page you will see a number of popular topics that that are being promoted via misinformation. Many of them have no basis in truth at all. A few are based in reality, but veer off into troublesome areas. We all need to think more critically about these topics, and take great care when we encounter them."

What's the Harm? is trying to assign a cost to these unfortunate events (never easy, but I admire their effort). Their tag line says 368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured, and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages.



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