The leading American scientific journal Science on Thursday released a rare editorial that called on scientists to fight the Covid misinformation that is spreading on Facebook.
“The pandemic has revealed the shocking inability of the scientific institution to convey messages about masks, vaccinations or the dangers of consuming drugs,” wrote editor-in-chief H. Holden Thorp.
The former chemistry professor added that social media had been masterfully exploited by “unscientific forces”, highlighting Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, right-wing public figures who have built loyal followers.
Communication about research is fundamentally difficult because the scientific process is slow and repetitive, with remarks and responses that are not always conclusive, Thorp said.
But the problem is that “the unscientific opposition is not interested in the remarks,” he added.
While the pandemic has seen the rise of numerous credible scientists who have amassed huge followers on Twitter – examples include Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health and NYU professor Celine Gounder – the same is not true on Facebook.
“People tend to trust individuals they know on Facebook, making it powerful to change hearts and minds,” Thorp said, calling for commitment rather than a boycott.
“To do battle in this arena, science will have to find its own super figures who can compete directly with Shapiro and Bongino of the unscientific world,” he added, regardless of whether they are practicing scientists or skilled communicators. science.
“Since the end of World War II, scientists have adhered to the idea that if they stay objective and declare science, then the rest of the world will follow,” he said, concluding that hostility to climate and Covid research had proven this naiveté. .
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