Can You Believe It?

7 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT ANY SCIENTIFIC CLAIM

Screaming headlines abound in our media-saturated world. “Research suggests coffee makes you smarter.” “Severe storms on the rise.” “Trained dogs detect cancer.”

You don't have to be a science news junkie to find yourself constantly confronted with scientific facts and factoids. Claims about household products, technology, medicine, and even politics often come steeped in the presumed authority of scientific research.

The truth is slippery, and it's not always graspable even by experts. So how can we nonexperts decide what to believe?

The seven questions here can help you weigh the validity of scientific information, wherever it might appear. You may not be able to get answers to them all—and this in itself might be telling—but if you can, you'll be well on your way to separating science fact from science fiction.