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Evidence Hunter activity pack
The Evidence Hunter activity pack empowers young people by equipping them to ask, ‘What is the evidence behind this claim?’ It aims to develop the skills and confidence needed to critically assess claims online and reduce the spread of false information.
By following the activities in the pack, participants will assess real claims that have been made online, in the media or in advertising, and look at what evidence exists to support them.
Examples range from claims about the benefits of products such as charcoal toothpaste and caffeine shampoo, to the impact of lifestyle choices such as the effect of social media use on sleep or whether helping others really does make you happier.
If you are a group leader, all you will need to run through the activities is a print-out of the attached material and a set of counters or tokens, such as Post-It notes. The pack includes guidance on the different types of evidence and how you can help your group think critically about the claims they might encounter in day-to-day life.
If you are unable to print the pack yourself, Sense about Science will be happy to send you a copy in the post.
Please get in touch with any questions and to let us know what you think of the pack.
The Evidence Hunter activities
1. Should we really believe what we read on the internet?
This exercise looks at to what extent we trust different kinds of claims that are commonly found online and in the media, and why. Participants are presented with five claims, and asked to place ‘trust’ tokens on the statements they believe the most, before discussing why they made their choices. They will realise, independently or by being guided, that without context or further information, their gut reaction might not always be the correct one.
2. Who do I trust the most to tell the truth?
Once the sources of the claims are revealed, participants might be surprised to realise they change their minds about what they believe. Can we trust advertisements and celebrities to give us impartial advice about what products to buy? How do we know that a newspaper article is getting all the facts right? This exercise will make the group think about who is making the claim they see online, and whether their motives are trustworthy.
3. What does good evidence look like?
How easy is it to know good evidence when we see it? This exercise looks at what we consider ‘good evidence’. For each of the claims they’ve just been discussing, the participants will be given a set of articles that may or may not provide evidence to support that claim, ranging from personal testimonies to rigorous scientific studies. The exercise involves ranking the items by how strong the evidence is and matching items to the claim they support.
4. Sources of evidence
Now the participants have learned when to ask for evidence and what evidence looks like, they will learn how to find the evidence (or perhaps identify a lack of evidence) behind a claim. Following on from discussions about what we consider good evidence, the participants will think about where we can go to find out whether relevant evidence exists.
5. The Evidence Hunter challenge
Equipped with new skills in evidence hunting, participants who are keen to complete the full challenge will now go off on their own to investigate claims they find on social networks, in advertising or in the media. Those who choose to take on this challenge will be required to present their findings to a leader in a following session in order to become an Evidence Hunter.