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Science vs quackery

Lately there has been a lot activity connected to the dispute that science is a failure, that it is enslaved by the big companies that seek profit, implying that several thousands of researchers are carrying out their jobs in a “biased” way. Here is my point of view on the matter.

Few years ago Internet (and social media) was still inaccessible to most of the parents for several reasons. Some of them did not have the time to engage, some of them were simply turned off by the amount of technicalities they were asked to face.

I believe that, by lowering the access threshold, a lot of these are now wandering online, submerged by an ocean of information. My generation had time to learn to face the problem and to discern between good, reliable news and crappy ones. Not everyone learnt of course. Parents have been plunged into this noisy world with no time to learn.

This setting gave rise to a few major problems in the approach to social networked news:

  1. Title trusting,
  2. Share racing,
  3. Blind defense,
  4. Hoax generation.

The first is the attitude to believe what the Title of a post says, no matter what the article is actually about. There are still a lot of users who don’t enjoy clicking on the link they share because (I speculate) they are lazy. Now I can see these people reading a title and thinking the entire article is summarised in those 6-7 words. What really leaves me astonished is that the same users that trust a title, on a post, on facebook, on the Internet, are the same that distrust people in real life. I might be induced to think that the click on the link is a barrier, probably too high to overcome, between them and the perception of the article’s author as a real life person.

The laziness that characterises these users vanishes when it comes to sharing. Even if it is likely that a part of their brain is still thinking about the fact that they really don’t know who wrote the article (and its title), the urge to share it takes over. They have to share it on their timelines, it does not matter if in a few seconds the smart guy they are friends with will comment on it showing them how stupid that choice was.

This leads us to the third point, blind defense. After someone commented on their post, arguing how the article is a hoax – probably reposted after few months from its first sharing – they step in to defend their shared article. In their heads they were, perhaps, expecting a stream of likes and retweets. Sadly now they have to face a discussion during which they take the side of the article (mind you, without even having read it). Needless to say, failure is not an option.

Lastly, as you can see, there is a plethora of users willing to blindly believe an article (as long as the title is cool), that are willing to share and spread it at supersonic speed, that will most likely defend it once they shared it. This army of mental numbness includes people that do actually open the link and do actually click on those banners in the page.

If you were not one of these, won’t you start a hoax website with plenty of ads just to fish in the sea of dumbness??

One of the biggest clashes that keeps happening on social networks, as well as in real life debates, is whether it is safe or not to administer vaccines to young children. It is clear that parents want the best for their children, they would never want them to suffer or to experience serious illness and diseases. What is less clear is whether they have a full understanding of the topic.

There is a very nice and well documented article by Jennifer Raff that focuses on this problem, read more about it (link opens in new tab).

 

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are NOT fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely NOT coincidental. If you think I was talking about you, you are probably right. Peace.