Though health and science topics are subject to the same kinds of misinformation found everywhere, there are two types that are particularly common in these fields: denialism and snake oil.
Probably the most essential factor in accurately and objectively judging health and science information is to understand how science is done.
Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. This section looks at how we get news and information about health and science topics, types of misinformation that are particularly common in those subjects, and steps we can take to determine how reliable a source or claim is.
Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. Because most of us aren’t experts on these topics, we rely on people and organizations who are experts for good information. MediaSmarts has developed new resources to help youth and adults find and recognize good information on science and health online.
Here are three tips to help you find good information about health and science topics.
If the source is a person, start by checking that they really exist and that they are a genuine expert on that topic. Both doctors and scientists are usually specialists, so make sure that the source has credentials in the right field. A surgeon won’t necessarily be an expert in physics, for instance, and vice versa.
information on how to search and how to authenticate information. Both are essential skills to master if we want to end up with relevant and reliable information.
The digital age presents us with unprecedented problems when it comes to finding information and making sure that it’s true. Where our first problem used to be getting information, what’s more difficult today is filtering out what we need from what we don’t. In fact, creating and distributing information is now so easy that we can no longer assume that sources have anything to lose by spreading content that’s false or misleading. In essence, today we all have to be our own librarians, researchers and fact-checkers.
The strength and weakness of the Internet as a research source is just how much information there is: a badly-phrased search can drown you in irrelevant, misleading or unreliable results.
Once you’ve found information online – or someone has shared it with you – how do you know if it’s true, or at least credible? In other words, how do you authenticate the information? The Internet is a unique medium in that it allows anyone – not just experts – to write on any topic and to broadcast it to a wide audience.
A Day in the Life of the Jos is an interactive digital literacy tutorial where students in grades six to eight help the brother and sister team Jo and Josie with situations they encounter online as they go about a typical day in their lives. The modules are represented as five days in the lives of Jo and Josie, covering topics that research has identified as being important for youth of this age.