‘It’s Only a Theory’

When discussing the nature of evidence, there are some interesting ideas you might like to consider. One is to use videos of a BBC programme called ‘It’s Only a Theory’ – some of which are available on YouTube, though the BBC website is probably more useful. This programme took the findings from a published journal paper and tried to replicate them in a studio. In reality, the two situations would be very different – the journal paper would be based on several hundred respondents whilst the TV programme would perhaps invite just one volunteer, but thinking about a difference as simple as the number of respondents can enable you to develop your critical thinking skills somewhat. 

Click here to view the clips on the BBC Four website. 

‘Yes, Prime Minister’

Another BBC programme which might be helpful is a particular episode of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, called ‘The Grand Design’. In that particular episode, The PM – Jim Hacker – is seeking to introduce conscription and his private secretary – Bernard Woolley – he had a survey done indicating that the British people are in favour of the idea. However, his Cabinet Secretary – Sir Humphrey Appleby – wishes to show Bernard how surveys can be constructed in a biased manner. Whilst we might not wish all of you to become cynical about politicians, the episode does show that undertaking objective research is not quite as easy as it sounds.

The relevant video (Yes Prime Minister, Series 1 Episode 2) is available on YouTube - click here.