Listening to the truth

Mobile phones do not cause brain cancer. That’s the view of the scientific community. Even so, many conspiracy theories exist preaching the opposite. Even worse, the science cited by these conspiracies are always bogus or iffy.

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Fake News Science

Usually the issue begins with a study and an idea opposite to what everyone believes. With something significant, it’s always important to remember that being published unfortunately does not mean it’s true. For this cancer study, scientists in the field felt the science was dubious. The hunch was proven, with many studies showing the exact opposite result.

If science journals are not reporting ‘good’ science, then the truth gets lost and muddied. And why should you bother to be sceptical? If the fake science agrees with what you believe, it must be true, right?

Fake News from Fake Science

Biased science leads to biased science reporting. Even good science is always subject to a bit of spin from journalists. In the current age of digital media, it seems spin gets out of control, and the science is lost in the hype.

Science on the internet exists in two groups, your group and the ‘other’ group. We tune into and read things we agree with, and the ‘other’ group of media never makes it to us. Like an echo chamber: you only hear what you put out.

If we only tune into biased media, the truth will never find us. And it’s important it does, for us as a society and as individuals.

The answer and the culprit

A lot of the temptation with conspiracy theories is they answer questions we cannot. I am definitely not immune, and have blamed and explained away issues I struggle with, like the security of my digital information. There’s no way you will see me with the iPhone X scanning my face and practically handing Apple my identity.

I realise some of you are probably laughing at me right now, and I get it. But data encryption is something I know little about and cannot control. To me, it seems all I ever hear is this got hacked, this government was breached, and so on and so on.

And for me, that’s where my knowledge stops. Unlike the cancer study, I haven’t read journal articles about encryption or sought to form my own view. I’ve taken the word of the media as gospel. And this is where the issue lives and dies. If I am unable to understand the science, and all the media I consume is biased, how can I know the truth?

How can we move forward?

Truthfully, I can see the appeal of conspiracy theories and hyped-up science sometimes. They can make for interesting headlines and reporters and bloggers aren’t to know the science they are reporting on is false.

But it gets dangerous when we all start to make big decisions about our lives and government policy based on iffy science. Just look to our current politicians here and in the USA to see the effect of poor science reporting and knowledge. It’s more important than ever to be informed.

4 Responses to “Listening to the truth”

  1. Nastasia Bartlett says:

    Thanks Jethro. Yeah it’s always a good idea to check your sources and their motivation, especially if you are reading something straight from Social Media. Although, which sources you choose to “trust” is heavily influenced by your pre-existing ideas…

  2. Jethro Hasoloan says:

    Hi Natasha, great and engaging post. I think the easiest way to detect if such science news is fake or legitimate is by paying attention to the SOURCE of the news itself. Is the person or entity making the claims someone with genuine expertise in what they’re claiming?
    Some sources have their own agenda and make that fake news to fulfil it.

  3. Nastasia Bartlett says:

    Thanks for your comment Robin. Yes, when we mislead readers we are breaking the trust they have with us to tell them the truth. Some theorise links between conspiracy theories and loss of confidence in media.

  4. Robin Sanchez Arlt says:

    Nice read Nastasia. Yes I would have to agree with you, in current times, even the credible news outlets can misinform their reader about new scientific articles. Especially anything to do with cancer. It’s sad because I have a feeling that it can make science seem not so credible itself.