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The Scientific Community is Losing the Battle Against Misinformation

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Persuasive words are not enoughH. Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief, Science journals. wrote an editorial, "Persuasive words are not enough." Thorp concludes with the following:


"The scientific community is losing the battle against this digital leviathan of misinformation. A well-reasoned and highly placed op-ed on this topic is not going to move the needle, no matter how well it is crafted to adhere to the best practices in science communication. Neither is a perfect trade book, television appearance, or speaking tour by a scientific leader. The only way to win this fight is to harness the same sophisticated tools in the name of science that are being used to tear science down. With social media companies afraid to challenge the misinformation machine, even when their own platforms are being misused, the task is daunting. But we can at least move on from the idea that if we could just find those perfect, persuasive words, everyone would suddenly realize that facts are facts with no alternatives."


I stumbled across article as a result of listening to Bill Nye argue with Fox News Tucker Carlson over climate change.  I usually ignore everything combining out of Fox News, but I like Bill Nye and I wanted see how he'd fare against Tucker.



I did not agree that scientists have to "the same" sophisticated tools.  Fox news and social media will not work.  They are designed and optimized to spread disinformation.  Tucker absolutely cast Bill Nye's message in doubt, especially if you are already inclined to disbelieve that man has any impact on climate change or have little background in logic.


Science does sophisticated tools, but they will need to be new ones.


The rate of climate change will continue to accelerate.


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I shared a link to the above of Twitter. Again using Twitter will not make a difference.  Garbage that is twitter's stock in trade. Note: right at the top of my feed is a retweet of one of 45's tweets.  It was retweeted by a Black author.  The following is not a personal attack, but this Black author, whose work I've supported for almost 20 years, has not retweeted anything I've written about Black books in a very long time, but she actively engages with 45 -- retweeting, commenting, and sharing.  She is not alone. Fully a 1/3 of my 7K followers on Twitter follow 45!  


Everyone justifies covering 45's tweets because he is the president, but this started when he was running. People love to talk about him, which merely amplifies his message. I don't know anyone who likes the individual mandate, so retweeting the message may actually be helping 45.  I say never feed the trolls, but trolls know how to get their messages amplified.


6k comments, 6K shares and 22.6K likes in 32 minutes.  This is POWERFUL.  To put this in perspective, this kind of engagement always results in thousands of dollars of revenue when it happens to my social posts, and 45 can do this this several times a day!  Someone is making many millions of dollars off 45 tweets. 


If anyone shared my link, it would be a small miracle.  In fact, I really don't believe many of my followers will even see my post and if they do they really won't care about it enough to comments, share, like, or visit the site to read more.


We can not use social media to get people to think differently about science, climate change, or Covid19.



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