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How to read the news like a scientist and avoid the new virus ‘infodemic’

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https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/how-to-avoid-covid-19-fake-news-coronavirus/

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How to read the news like a scientist and avoid the new virus ‘infodemic’
Finding reliable information in the digital age is already challenging enough, even more so during a global pandemic when fake news, misinformation and hyperbole are rife.

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Limited knowledge

We are all currently going through a challenging period: while fighting the pandemic, we are also trying to stay positive and read only useful articles on the topic.

However, we should ...

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The origin of real vs. fake information

When reading an article, you might want to consider checking its source. It is very often that journalists reinterpret the original findings according to their own point of view.

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Checking the source of your news

Being positive that you can trust articles on topics as important as the current pandemic is of great relief.

This is why you should try reading reports that include comments from the ...

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Youngsters Flock To TikTok

Gen Z, youngsters born between 1997 to 2012, have a favourite social media app to connect with one another: TikTok. The usage has now skyrocketed due to schools being shut down and social distancin...

Infodemic

The spread of misinformation on social media, which is leading to confusion, fear and violent incidents across the globe is the new information pandemic(infodemic) due to social media platforms like TikTok, among others.

Social media companies are already aware of the dangers of misinformation from the 2016 U.S. Elections and are under the radar for their actions to fight this menace.

Infected With Misinformation

Social media remains ‘infected’ with false information, conspiracy theories, miracle cures and unverified rumours about the virus. The World Health Organization(WHO) has initiated a collaboration with the big tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google to check on the spread of misinformation. It has also worked with Chinese companies like Tencent and Weibo for weeding out misinformation.

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Healthy skepticism

Healthy skepticism
Healthy skepticism does not mean you’re dismissing everything as false — it simply means remembering the things you hear or read in the media could be false, but they could also be true. O...

Find out who is making the claim

When you encounter a new claim, look for conflicts of interest. Ask: Do they stand to profit from what they say? Are they affiliated with an organization that could be swaying them? Other questions to consider: What makes the writer or speaker qualified to comment on the topic? What statements have they made in the past?

The halo effect

Is a cognitive bias that makes our feeling towards someone affect how we judge their claims. If we dislike someone, we are a lot more likely to disagree with them; if we like them, we are biased to agree.

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Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismana...

We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

  • Successful conspiracy theories always tend to invent a great villain, have a backdrop or a backstory, and a morality lesson that can be easily understood by most.
  • Great stories are by nature more magnetic and appealing than the truth.
  • Human beings think and understand in stories. For thousands of years, fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and mysteries have helped our brains make sense of the world.

Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.

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