Articles to 2020-07-03

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First the link to this week's complete list as HTML and as PDF.


Both nature and science offer advice on countering misinformation on Covid and vaccination. No doubt, there is a lot of it about. But nobody, least of all those two, dares to tell the truth where it comes from. We here, all of us, have access to reliable primary sources. But if you look at the so-called quality press and state-controlled television, the one thing that soon becomes clear beyond doubt is that most of what you are fed are falsehoods and probably downright lies. Given that and assuming you have no access to other sources beyond Fecesbook echo chambers, what are you to believe? Those falsehoods you find are mostly rational attempts to make sense of contradictions and nonsense. Those are the swamps we should set out to drain.

Instead Cornwall for science openly advocates emulating soap commercials. Great idea. Until now only some people suspect scientists might not be telling the truth. After that all of them, and many more besides, will recognize the format and become convinced they are lied to. Way to go, great idea. Anything but follow Feynman’s advice, stop assuming everybody else was stupid, and give the facts to the man in the street the same way as you would to your academic peers.

Fleming for nature goes one step further and furnishes us with a list to recognize misinformation by – as if it were not easy to smell rats from afar (unless Covid has made you lose your sense of smell). So let's assume we were young and stupid, needed his patronizing advice, and look at his list:

1) Vague untraceable sources
Reading the news pages in both nature and science it is more often than not hard if not impossible to find the primary sources they report their results and advances from.
2) Bad language
Science publishing already is one the most lucrative industries of all. In their greed journals have long done away with all copy editing. Authors often are no native speakers. I don't mind clumsy grammar and a strange choice of words, but when whole sentences become ambiguous to totally incomprehensible I wonder what, if anything, editors and referees were supposed to be doing.
4) Genuine scoops and reporting by only one source
What is it that both nature and science make their living from?
7) Follow the money – who stands to gain?
Well, how do journals and departments secure their funding?
8) Fact-check – Go past the headlines
Search this very blog for dozens of examples where overblown headlines were not upheld by the main results at all.

Five out of eight. Thank you. Now I know what to avoid and how to stay clear of misinformation. Why can't arrogant and patronizing journalists ever credit ordinary people with even a minimum of basic common sense and why do they treat them like imbeciles instead?

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