8 Rules for Combating Earth Science Misinformation

8 Rules for Combating Earth Science Misinformation

Misinformation, or disinformation if intentional, is one of today’s most difficult and terrifying issues. The ability to spread news quickly via social media, regardless of whether it’s true or false, has increased to the point that stemming this tide is like trying to squeeze the Baltic Sea into a cup. This leads to: Traditional media are distrustedThis creates a viscous circle that fuels misinformation.

Numerous people are familiar with this. There is very little instruction on how to distinguish. There are two types of reliable sources: those that can be trusted and ones that cannot. Scientists and scholars often assume their research will be utilized as they imagine. This unstable mix can lead to Bad actors can distort science and facts Despite their unclear goals.

Carl Bergstom, a biomedical scientist who is also a science communication expert published “The End of Last Year”.Eight rules to combat medical misinformationNature Medicine. He offered his advice to the audience regarding how to reduce misinformation in science, medicine, and vaccine research.Bergstrom writes that we have an obligation of providing accurate and clear information to society which is in desperate need.”.

Similar results can be found in the Earth Sciences. Because so much of the information we study directly impacts people’s lives, such as climate change, natural disasters, Earth resources and water, there is an obligation to do so. People may want to spread false information about geologic processes or events, and misrepresent the Earth science research. There are many reasons for this. It is our responsibility as scientists and science lovers to stop such misuse.

Eight Rules to Combat Misinformation

Bergstrom’s rules have eight principles that I modified for Earth science. These rules can be viewed as guidelines that will help you recognize misinformation when it is encountered in nature.

1. Pay attention to the information environment in which your work is being released You might get a prompt response from people who wrongly believe that climate change is not happening if your research is focused on climate impacts. To push their agenda, they might use uncertainty and hesitation in your work as a way to get ahead. It is important to place your work within the correct context. For example, if you read articles on scientific research, consider the context in which the author places the work.

2. Don’t hype your work, or make unsubstantiated claims about its importance. Scientists want their work to be recognized and appreciated. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to arm wave or go to the side of the dive board in order to make statements intended to attract attention from the media. You shouldn’t claim that an earthquake is imminent if you are looking at motion on faults. Talk about the worst-case scenario if you’re talking about a volcano. Research uncertainties are the most difficult aspect of research communication. Don’t get too confident about your conclusions. You should be careful about headlines that make big claims based on recent research. This research rarely fundamentally changes our knowledge of possible hazards and impacts.

3. Recognize that visualisations of data are shared widely on social media, and can be used to good or evil: Figures are used to illustrate our work. However, they can be easily removed from their context. Make sure you are aware of this and create illustrations that will be able to live by themselves. If you plot temperature trends in an image without providing enough context to illustrate long-term trends, it could be used to prove that climate change is not occurring.

4. If you suspect that there are specific misuses of your results, then take action to prevent them. This means that you must always clearly state your central finding at both the beginning and ending of each paragraph. If your research shows there’s more magma beneath a volcano than you thought, it doesn’t necessarily mean that an eruption is imminent. It might seem obvious that everyone reading your research will know this, but non-specialists could quickly follow a different path than you anticipated. Don’t make assumptions about science news and research that you don’t know.

5. Preprint posting is possible if you are familiar with how the media and public view preprints. Preprints, for those outside of academia, are copies of published research papers that do not have all of the editing and peer review required to be fully published. These are useful for quickly getting information out for comments and needs, but may not be able to withstand scrutiny by other researchers once they have been reviewed. If the preprint is not approved by the media, it could be spread to the public. Trusted scientific research relies on peer review. This rule can be extended to cover “research” done by non-experts like the charlatans who claim they are able to predict earthquake timings and locations. They have never been peer-reviewed and would not meet the standards of professional science.

6. You are responsible for all press releases that your institution issues regarding your work. It is the same as rule 2. Companies, universities, and other organizations want to be publicized, particularly if their investments are private or public. Don’t allow your work to be misrepresented. Do not let the press officer say, if you find evidence that there was an earthquake previously in your region, it could indicate that more severe earthquakes may be possible. Your work will be presented to the public in a manner that you choose.

7. Use traditional media responsibly Scientists don’t love public performance. While many scientists would prefer to let their work speak for themselves, that is not always possible. Answer their basic questions, talk to the media and be a trustworthy source. Because I believe it’s important to have experts discuss volcanic hazards, I often appear on cable news. Although it might sound scary, this is an essential part of being a scientist.

8. You should consider engaging in social media Even I cringe at the thought of getting on Twitter, Mastodon TikTok or Facebook in the present social media climate. It is filled with people discussing storms and eruptions — often spreading inaccurate images or making unreliable predictions. It is clear that this information source has a lot of misinformation. Although it may seem futile to fight the bad actors and Russian bot armies, more people are open than you think. If you use social media to consume information, it is important that you double-check you’re only reading and watching trustworthy, reliable sources, not groups or crackpots with agendas.

The Long Game

Bergstrom reminded us that misinformation not only harms individuals directly, but also aids and abets bad policies. Although you might not be susceptible to misinformation but our leaders may, it is possible to have an impact on your life. Consider people who live along the Florida and North Carolina coasts, where climate change-induced sea levels rise could literally cause damage to their homes and businesses. People in Oregon, California and elsewhere are facing bigger fires each year. These populations are more vulnerable to the effects of fires and storms than they are to their trickledown.

Scientists and citizens will have to work together to counter the misinformation. Scientists must take control of the way their research is made available to the public. This includes how they present their results to how they discuss them after publication. It is up to citizens to learn the skills necessary to distinguish fact from fiction, in both traditional and digital media. And resist the temptation of sharing before being validated. This is work, for everyone. But it’s work we must do to help ourselves and others.

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