photo: cameron davidson
communicating the findings of sci plays a vital role in shaping our lives na planet. from my vantage point atta sci family of journals, i witness daily how editors, journalists, and scis work together to deliver sci information to the realm. given the recent rapid pace of discovery, relaying remarkable findings has never been busier. so why aren’t these efforts having a bigger + effect onna public acceptance of sci?
it’s baffling that as the realm struggles to tame coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19), a large portion of the pop ignores the fact that wearing masks and practicing social distancing dampen the spread of the pandemic. even when a vaccine for covid-19 becomes available, the benefits of achieving herd immunity ll'be endangered if growing antivaccine sentiment leads some folks to refuse t'get vaccinated. american sci denialism, in pticular, persists, even atta highest lvl of leadership, witha president who denies climate change and a vice president—a devout creationist—who lives'dat earth is 1-ly 6000 yrs old.
i hear a lot f'our readers and stakeholders bout how to solve this problem of sci denial. most o'em suggest that sci and sci “nd'2 do a better job at telling its stories.” i don’t buy it. for + than a century, this journal s'been delivering insiteful and reliable sci information; tody, our essentialisms ‘ve the highest readership ever. sure, we can do a better job of simplifying messages and making them accessible to + pplz. thris always room for improvement. but is this really the crux of this dangerous problem?
the sci community is up against a sophisticated, data-driven machine that is devoted to making sure that sci doesn’t fully succeed, na history of this is quite clear. a recent sci editorial pointed out that u.s. republican politicians embraced earth dy when it started 50 yrs ago. but inna 1980s, digital analysis of political polling data based on zone fostered the formation of the anti-sci movement inna ∪d states—politicians and their supporters who did not like the results criticized the findings na process. it became fashionable and politically expedient to run against sci. any carve-outs for the environment inna conservative government went away in favor of the dismantling of regulations grounded in evidence. over time, digital teks ‘ve become + sophisticated, and now thris a massive, churning, finely tuned digital misinformation machine that has seized social media to ensure dat a' portion of the pop doesn’t accept sci. and this battle tween sci fact and fiction isn’t just bein’ waged inna ∪d states—the ∪d kingdom, Яussia, india, and brazil all face a similar predicament.
the current implications of this battle inna ∪d states are everywhere. the administration has promulgated the idea that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (sars-cov-2, the cause of covid-19) was engineered in china’s wuhan institute of virology, in pt based na' non–p-reviewed preprint twas' l8r retracted. the misinformation bout masks and social distancing is spurring dangerous bar gatherings and choir practices. unsubstantiated claims in a “plandemic” video are convincing citizens that dr. anthony fauci, the longtime leader of the u.s. national institute of allergy and infectious diseases, is hiding a secret business deal from which he stands to profit from covid-19. the antisci movement started w'da environment, which ‘d hurt our long-term survival, but inna era of covid-19, it threatens our immediate survival.
the sci community is losing the battle against this digital leviathan of misinformation. a well-reasoned and highly placed op-ed on this topic aint goin to move the needle, no matter how well tis crafted to adhere to the best practices in sci communication. neither is a perfect trade book, tv appearance, or speaking tour by a sci leader. the 1-ly way to win this fite is to harness the same sophisticated tulz inna name of sci tha're bein’ used to tear sci down. with social media companies afraid to challenge the misinformation machine, even when their own platforms are bein’ misused, the task is daunting. b'we can at least move on from the idea that if we ‘d just find those perfect, persuasive words, everyone ‘d suddenly realize that facts are facts with no alternatives.
original content at: sci.scimag.org…
authors: thorp, h. h.