Using Evidence

For the next few weeks, we’ll focus on evidence.

Presenting the right evidence for your audience and purpose, and presenting evidence in the right way, is essentially for your credibility.

Additionally, we want people to base important decisions on evidence. When a doctor treats me, I want the treatment to be based on evidence (as opposed to tradition, belief, opinion, or superstition). When a new bridge is built, I want the engineers to make decisions based on evidence rather than gut feelings.

As we’ve discussed in class, there are heated debates about the use of bike helmets. In many US states, helmets are required for children, but no US states require them for adults. The primary purpose of bike helmets is to reduce fatal injuries, and there is good evidence that they reduce fatal injuries. However, new knowledge about traumatic brain injuries such as concussion has raised concerns about helmets and non-fatal head injury.

Watch three videos and write a post about the use of evidence in arguments about bike helmets. The first video is about effective communication of technical or scientific ideas. The next two are arguments about bicycle helmets (pro and con).

Don’t hesitate to google these speakers to find out a bit more about them.

Melissa Marshall, “Talk Nerdy to Me.” Marshall is a scientific communications consultant and faculty member at Penn State.

Mikael Colville-Andersen, “Why We Shouldn’t Bike with a Helmet. Colville-Andersen is a designer and urban planning consultant.

Fred Rivara, “The Importance of Bike Helmets.” Rivara is a physician and professor of pediatrics in Seattle.



For further thinking (optional), watch this video about a new kind of helmet, which is essentially an airbag for your head:

Here’s the site of the Swedish company developing the airbag helmet:

Finally (and again optional), consider this opinion piece by Eben Weiss, US author and cycling advocate, who argues against mandatory helmet laws in the US: