Unwanted science super-diffusers and good sources of health information
Scientific disinformation is now being spat out and shared at an record rate. This is the third story in our 4-part Junk Science series, which explains why this is happening and what you can do about it. To learn more, see: Part 1: The Golden Age of Unwanted Science is Killing Us; Part 2: 9 Ways To Tell If Health Information Is In Fact Junk Science; and Part 4: What You Can Say to Get Someone Out of an Unwanted Scientific Rabbit Hole.
The science is in place against many. Inaccurate information is extremely contagious on social media: Wrong information is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true stories. And the truth just cannot follow.
While some social media platforms have started labeling certain content as misleading or bogus, it is often too little too late. For example, an Instagram election fraud video gained 500,000 views before it was flagged as potentially misleading. But only 20,700 people saw the warning label after reporting the post.
One way to get a feel for what is reliable information and what is probably not is to identify sources that you can trust. Below is a starting list of some good favorite sources.
You’ll also want to check the subtext of what a source says. Do they cast doubt on what you thought was reality? Are they, you know, “just asking questions”? Do they have anything to gain financially from what they publish (this supplement protects against Covid and what do you know, I sell it right hereâ¦).
Scientific facts will rarely be as clickable as untruths. So remember, if something “totally clicks you” then you’re going to want to take an extra second to get it through the BS detector before you believe it or share it. (Develop Your Own BS ââDetector With These 9 Ways To Spot Unwanted Science). To make it a bit easier to get accurate information, take a look at today’s top disinformation superbroadcasters and their tactics, then find out where to get the information you can trust below.
Hall of Shame Disinformation Superbroadcaster
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The classic rock DJ of anti-vax bullshit. He can be counted on to keep playing the same scienceless and deeply misleading songs over and over again. (Reality: no, vaccines don’t cause autism!) RFK Jr. can cast doubt on the best of them. Cherry picking personified.
An extraordinary expert from JAQing-off (Just Asking Questions). The Tuckster can instill partisan doubt on any subject – science, sense, and human decency be to hell. “Clean water? Really? A liberal plot to get into your house? I’m just asking….”
A wellness magician who can magically turn a public health crisis into an opportunity for profit fueled by testimonials. Do you think you have a long Covid? Try a plant-based diet, intuitive fasting, and Goop’s detox supplements. (Read: Don’t do it.)
The guy is just pragmatic, open-minded and curious. To the right? So giving a platform to unproven therapies, fad diets, and illogical and potentially dangerous health policy positions isn’t really misinformation – it’s just brainstorming a few. brothers !
Joseph Mercola, DO
Yes, he has the qualifications of a health professional. But that didn’t stop him from spreading fear, using vague and meaningless terminology, and relying heavily on testimonials to build a for-profit pseudo-scientific empire.
A Cornell University study found that Trump was mentioned alongside 37.9% of all misinformation about Covid in mainstream and online media coverage from January through May 2020.
Judy Mikovits, Ph.D.
A conspiracy theorist adept at passing off absurd ideas as credible science (but silenced by man). Exhibit A: the âdocumentaryâ Plandemia. Mikovits deploys tools of disinformation such as questioning public health officials and fear of the alleged ineffectiveness of vaccines.
Where to find reliable information (beyond men’s health, of course)
Despite some less than ideal messages (er, masks), official agencies like the CDC remain important sources of health information. But you don’t just have to rely on boring government or university websites (although it does isgood to count on them). There are also many other great science-informed voices aimed at clarifying what is good science and what is noise. Some favorites:
The oldest and the biggest fact-checking site.
A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center who verifies the accuracy of statements by political figures.
A health news site with reliable surveys; one of the first to look into the Covid.
@ science.sam; Samantha Yammine, Ph.D.
This neuroscientist combines expert communication skills with a wealth of bioscience knowledge.
@jessicamalatyrivera; Jessica malaty rivera
Expect jargon-free explanations of this epidemiologist’s Covid science.
@AlexDainis; Alex Dainis, Ph.D.
The TikToks of this geneticist break down the facts on hot topics like PCR testing and gene editing.
@ doctor.darien; Darien Sutton, MD
Get clarity on the facts on chest pain, Covid, and more from this emergency medicine doc.
@DrJenGunter; Jen Gunter, MD
A daring demystifier not afraid of controversial topics.
@SabiVM Sabina Vohra-Miller, M.Sc.
This clinical pharmacologist aims to make sense of the data.
@EricTopol; Eric Topol, MD
A top doc put medical research into perspective.
This week in science; @TWIScience
Moderated by Kirsten “Kiki” Sanford, Ph.D., a neurophysiologist who makes complex topics such as CAR T cell treatments attractive.
Science vs. @ScienceVs
A leading team of journalists talk to scientists to separate fact from fashion.
This social media movement, co-founded by Canadian Senator Stan Kutcher, MD, and myself, brings together diverse and science-informed voices to counter disinformation on social media.