VoYS campaigns

Credit: Andrew West

VoYS has a rich history of leading mythbusting and evidence hunting campaigns from taking on companies making dubious product claims to calling on the WHO to condemn the promotion of homeopathy for serious diseases. Here are just some of the highlights from our campaign history.

Haven’t the Foggiest (2016)

From hurricane threats to thunder snow, there’s no shortage of extreme weather stories in the UK. Frustrated by the way weather is presented in the media and public discussion, and concerned that misleading use of terms and exaggerated stories could be undermining public trust in meteorology, VoYS decided to take on the issue. In January 2016, VoYS members launched a short online quiz on Buzzfeed to challenge everyone to test their weather know-how and arm themselves with the facts to decipher what the next stream of weather stories really means. Read more about the weather campaign or take the VoYS weather quiz on Buzzfeed.

Glyphosate: What's the lowdown? (2015)

Glyphosate is one of the most common herbicides worldwide and has been used in agriculture and gardening since the 1970s. In March 2015 it was categorised as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Scientists have criticised the IARC glyphosate assessment for numerous reasons, saying:

  • The selection of literature for reviewing was unbalanced and data has been ‘cherry picked’
  • No new scientific evidence was included in this evaluation
  • This classification is based mostly on animal studies and the report states that there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans
  • It contradicts the conclusions of several national regulatory agencies around the world that have reviewed the large body of glyphosate research and deemed it a safe herbicide

VoYS members became involved in the debate, making creative flyers that put the IARC classification in context, and attending briefings.

Spoof Diets (2014)

How can you spot a sensible diet amongst all the conflicting advice, dodgy nutrition claims and self-styled gurus in newspapers, lifestyle magazines and all over your Facebook feed? Asking for evidence can help to distinguish the bogus from the beneficial, and there are a few rules of thumb that can help you weigh up new diet fads. To draw attention to the spoof diets out there, VoYS members made up five diets of their own and mixed them up with five ‘real’ diets that have been doing the rounds. Can you tell the difference? Read more about the spoof diets campaign or take the VoYS spoof diet quiz.

Recognising Review (2012)

A group of VoYS members from across the UK called on the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to recognise peer reviewing in the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF). Reviewing is fundamental to sharing research findings and essential in ensuring that research funding is targeted to scientifically credible and worthwhile proposals. However REF, which is based on peer review, gives the activity no accreditation.

Homeopathy and the WHO (2009)

VoYS members sent an open letter to the World Health Organisation calling for the body to issue a clear international communication about the inappropriate use of homeopathy for five serious diseases. VoYS had become aware of widespread promotion of homeopathic treatments for serious diseases in developing countries and saw that there were no clear guidelines available on this. The WHO responded to the open letter stating clearly that it does not recommend the use of homeopathy for treating HIV, TB, malaria, influenza and infant diarrhoea. Read more about the WHO campaign.

The Detox Dossier (2009)

The Detox Dossier is a report by a group of VoYS members following their hunt for evidence behind the claims made about detox products and diets. After an initial survey, VoYS investigated 15 products that were sold in a range of mainstream supermarkets and pharmacies including foot pads, diet supplements and hair straighteners. The manufacturers were contacted to find out what evidence they had for the product claims and what they meant by ‘detox’. This continues to be an area of work for VoYS members to this day.

There Goes the Science Bit (2007)

From food that doesn’t contain chemicals to a spray that shields against EMF, VoYS members contacted organisations – manufacturers, distributors, retailers – to ask for more evidence for such claims. This is their dossier of extracts from their experiences. Read more about There Goes the Science Bit…