STM organises webinar on fake scientific information hosted by MEP Tudorache
On 17 November 2021, STM organised the online event “Science, trust and truth: how to weed out misinformation and fake science online”, hosted by Member of European Parliament (MEP) and Chair of the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA) Dragos Tudorache.
As fake news and fake science circulate and go viral online, powered by algorithms that increase their speed and enlarge their audience like it was never possible in the past, their real-life implications are severe and call for the scientific community, media, platforms and policy-makers to reflect upon what tools are at disposal to try and contain their spread and their influence on the general public. MEP Zarzalejos, Chair of the Special Committee of the European Parliament on countering disinformation, stressed that it is a priority to tackle this issue, as democracies depend on people making informed decisions, protected from undue interferences.
Because so much information is available online, anywhere, at all times, it is fundamental to be able to distinguish what is trusted information from what isn’t. What is tricky is making sure that the public has the instruments for making that distinction. Van Rossum, Skipper and Lee offered their reflections on what is the role of publishers in preserving the integrity of the scientific discourse and in bringing scientific knowledge to a broad audience. The core of the value they provide to the information ecosystem lies in the review, curation and expert communication that they make continuous investments in. The COVID-19 pandemic, as much of a challenge it proved to be for the research enterprise, also generated an increased public interest in science and offered an opportunity to educate and explain, bring communication skills to science and science closer to policy making and the public discourse.
The panellists agreed that efforts should be focused on educating the public about the difference between solid, reviewed, curated information and that which is posted online without any checks and the importance that a validating process is maintained. To that end, it’ll be important to secure funding for media literacy and training, including to educate specialised journalists. The STM community holds shared responsibility in improving the way of communication to ensure an effective dissemination of trusted resources.