ANU event seeks to restore faith in data and evidence

Monday, April 16, 2018 — Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) believe a lack of data literacy in Australia is contributing to the problem of many people being unable to tell the difference between factual evidence and ‘fake news’.

Dr Liz Allen of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods said an inability to evaluate information online was starting to erode people’s trust in evidenced based research.

“It’s got to the point where we doubt experts, we doubt evidence and facts and instead make judgements based on our own feelings,” Dr Allen said.

“It’s good to have a degree of scepticism. But when people start doubting data and experts giving impartial opinion based on facts, then we have a problem.

“Industry is saying there is a lack of skills in employee candidates when it comes to understanding research and data and how it can inform policy.”

To help combat the problem Dr Allen has arranged a series of Citizen Social Scientists seminars aimed at teaching people how to properly evaluate data and information.

“We want to arm people with the tool kit to properly assess data and information for themselves - what is evidence and what makes it reliable?

“How can someone do a quick ‘sniff test’ if you don’t have a PhD in the topic of information you are looking at.”

The first of four Citizen Social Scientists seminars will take place at 2pm on Tuesday 17 April. The event will host a panel discussion between Eryk Bagshaw (Fairfax Media), Jenny Gordon (Productivity Commission), Danielle Wood (Grattan Institute), and Glenn Withers (ANU) about evidence in contemporary society.

Media are invited to attend. More information if available here: http://www.anu.edu.au/events/what-is-evidence-in-a-post-truth-society

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FOR INTERVIEW:

Dr Liz Allen
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
T: 0401 358 091      
E: liz.allen@anu.edu.au

WHAT: ANU Citizen Social Scientists seminar
WHERE: University House, 1 Balmain Cres, ANU
WHEN: 2-4pm, Tuesday 17 April

For media assistance, contact Aaron Walker on the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or 0418 307 213