I was asked at a talk I gave at Leeds Skeptics in the Pub on Monday what lesson I would import to the UK from Canadian skepticism. My answer was an effective science lobbying group like Bad Science Watch, which I helped announce last summer (and was initially involved until life took over).
Not a lot was heard from Bad Science Watch immediately after its launch but that silence was hardly indicative of the work being done behind the scenes by Executive Director Jamie Williams and Chair Michael Kruse (as well as the other members of the Board, Advisory Committee, and numerous volunteers). It was designed from the start to operate behind the scenes, meeting with change-makers and government officials, rather than be another grassroots or community building initiative (as important as those are).
After an initial fundraising campaign, which raised over $4000, they started work on their first projects. Based entirely around the motto important issues, sound science, real change, BSW sought to identify key issues that they can address with evidence and prompt lasting policy change.
Their first project was an investigation of the anti-WiFi lobby in Canada, the result of which was a research paper that identifies a well-funded and organized effort by several key people and organizations. The release was subsequently picked up by several media outlets and will serve as a valuable tool for science and skeptical activists.
The second project was to force the Health Canada to de-register homeopathic nosodes. These products were routinely marketed as an alternative to vaccines and played on parent’s fears while offering no real protection for children. They lobbied through the spring of 2013 and just announced that Health Canada will require all nosodes to carry warning labels that they do not replace vaccines.
This product is not intended to be an alternative to vaccination.
While the products will still remain on store shelves, this is a huge win for science.
The next campaign of Bad Science Watch is to monitor and provide “rapid evidence checks” for Health Canada’s monographs, which provide safety and efficacy information about natural health projects.
Undoubtedly more projects will be announced in the future as Bad Science Watch proceeds one evidenced-based step at a time (always checking its work). Stay tuned to www.badsciencewatch.ca and make sure to donate what you can. To maintain their independence, they accept no industry funding and are clear and up front about their finances.