A real-time myth-busting campaign to tackle pseudoscience
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Subash ChapagainSep 21, 2022
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An online campaign with tangible incentives to debunk pseudoscientific claims and rumours that rewards those who do the debunking.
With the internet at everyone’s fingertip, we are regularly bombarded with an overdose of false information that sounds like science but actually is not . While there has been a constant decline in attention span and polarization based on ideologies/beliefs is increasing, pseudoscience can be regarded as one of the lurking evils of today’s world.
For instance, when the COVID pandemic started, the ingestion of deadly antiseptic hydroxychloroquine was advocated as one of the measures against the virus. There was absolutely no proof that it worked, and upon scientific investigation, it was found that it does more harm than good to the body. Such false claims propagate rapidly, especially in uncertain and desperate times: from false claims of colloidal silver being a therapeutic agent to vaccines being unworthy, pseudoscience has massively hampered public health and the economy. There are systematic studies that have shown the real harm done by pseudoscience .
More than often, pseudoscience is believed and followed due to its alluring nature. People without the capacity for critical thinking and scepticism are vulnerable to such beliefs and we cannot blame them for ignorance . Hence, I propose that a worldwide system be set on the internet that categorically tackles the propagation of pseudoscience.
How does the system work?
The system will be an online platform where volunteers debunk pseudoscience in a regular manner. Proper explanations, and the scientific evidence behind ‘why XYZ is wrong’ are posted by the debunkers. The system is designed to incentivize regular debunkers (the modes of incentives can be discussed, for eg cryptocurrency).
For more complex ideas, experts from different domains can be periodically invited for myth-busting. Another option would be to engage graduate-level students and researchers and reward them with some form of payment for their input on the platform. Also, proper bylines can be provided for acknowledging and helping early-stage communicators and researchers gain more recognition.
Over time, the platform can be modified and embedded into other social media platforms.
The system can be more impactful if endorsed on a large-scale by a scientific organisation like NASA or WHO, or some international regulatory body.