Misinformation as an Obstacle to Science Communication
by Brian Southwell at RTI International
What is scientific misinformation? from Southwell et al for The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science:
- publicly misleading info that is misleading or deceptive relative to best available evidence at the time and
- counters statements by actors who adhere to scientific principles without adding accurate evidence for consideration
What’s the problem with misinformation?
- we are biased towards acceptance — we listen and then filter / think about it, which sometimes doesn’t happen sufficiently because we’re tired etc.
- there are reasons we share misinformation — we signal belonging with others by sharing info related to our identities
- our regulatory approach (in democracies) focuses on after-the-fact detection and response — does not censor info, prevent misinformation from being shared
- correction is hard
- emotions make us vulnerable — anger makes us more likely to accept misinformation