Category: Internet & social media

The perils and pitfalls of “doing your own research” about COVID-19 (or any other science)

Ethan Siegel at Forbes argues that you "must not 'do your own research.'" While the title grates, Siegel is correct that most of us are not really capable of "doing our own research" about most scientific and medical questions because we lack the necessary background. We must therefore be humble and be very, very careful about "doing our own research."

/ August 3, 2020

Dry Drowning

What is dry drowning, and should we worry?

/ July 7, 2020
Mask exemption

Misinformation and disinformation about facemasks and COVID-19

As evidence accumulates that facemasks work to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19, new myths have arisen claiming that, not only do facemasks not work, but that they are actively harmful. These myths have no basis in physiology or chemistry, but that hasn't stopped anti-mask activists from using them to claim protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

/ June 29, 2020
5G tower

Quack Book Reviews: EMF*D

Über-quack Dr. Joe Mercola recently published a book claiming that 5G is the cause of all manner of health problems. Unsurprisingly, it's full of bad science, pseudoscience, and unproven claims.

/ June 1, 2020
coronavirus

Antivaxxers launch a preemptive disinformation war against a COVID-19 vaccine that doesn’t yet exist

We don't yet have a vaccine against COVID-19, but that hasn't stopped the antivaccine movement from launching a preemptive disinformation war on social media against it. Unfortunately, as a recent study demonstrates, on Facebook at least, they have been so successful that it is possible that antivaccine messaging will surpass pro-vaccine messaging on FB within a decade.

/ May 25, 2020

NewsGuard identifies social media “super-spreaders” of COVID-19 misinformation

NewsGuard has identified "super-spreaders" of COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook and Twitter, including Dr. Joseph Mercola, the NVIC, Rush Limbaugh, and Ty Bollinger.

/ May 21, 2020

Medical conspiracy theories and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned almost innumerable conspiracy theories, and conspiracists like the antivaccine movement have joined forces with COVID-19 conspiracy theorists. To combat the proliferation of pseudoscience rooted in conspiracy theories, it is useful to step back and examine the nature of conspiracy theories, including ones that are not medical, even ones like QAnon. Critical thinking is the key to inoculating...

/ May 18, 2020
Judy Mikovits on Pandemic

Plandemic: Judy Mikovits and the mother of all COVID-19 conspiracy theories

Judy Mikovits is a disgraced scientist who published a paper claiming that a retrovirus called XMRV causes chronic fatigue syndrome, results that other investigators were unable to replicate. Since then, she's been a regular on the antivaccine circuit, but now she's been reborn as a "Fire Fauci" COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Sadly, it worked. Her book is #1 on Amazon.

/ May 8, 2020
5G tower

COVID-19 conspiracy theories: Vaccines and 5G (along with Bill Gates) are responsible!

The COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly wind up being by far the worst pandemic we have experienced in a century. Given a huge pandemic with tragic death tolls, it's not surprising that conspiracy theories are popping up. Here, we look at two of the most common kinds of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. One blames 5G. The other blames—of course!—the flu vaccine.

/ April 6, 2020

How can we counter misinformation from “chemo truthers”?

Denial of the benefits of chemotherapy is very prevalent in "natural health" movements. This denial is based on fear mongering, pseudoscience, and conspiracy theories and thus shares many similarities with the antivaccine movement. How can the misinformation spread by "chemo truthers" be countered on social media?

/ January 27, 2020