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Passport Event- Calling Bullshit: Global Climate Change Week

Analyzing the News

Be aware of: bias, political propaganda, intentional disinformation, satire, attention-seeking click-bait, conspiracy theories, and sloppy reporting.

ASK: Who wrote it? Who benefits? Who is left out?

Always Ask the 4 Ws

Created by Hillary Ostermiller, June 2019

Evaluating Science News

Evaluating science in our daily lives

It seems like every day another 'groundbreaking' scientific study is reported in the news - but sometimes it can be really hard to:

  • identify whether or not a reported study's findings and everyday impact have been misrepresented or exaggerated
  • determine if the original study being reported was conducted well and if its results can be trusted
  • understand its true impact on our everyday lives

Some questions to ask yourself the next time you see a clickbait headline debating the existence of climate change, a bestselling wellness book by a celebrity, or an ad for a new wonder diet pill:

  • Does the social media post or product packaging try to use scientific-sounding language to seem more legitimate? Tactics like ‘scienceploitation’ are often used to push questionable health treatments
  • If you're reading a news article, do other scientific experts provide their opinion and explain what a study's findings could mean for the real world? Just ONE study on 10 people what works for the general population
  • Is just one source or a single study being cited as definitive proof of their position? More often than note, a poorly-constructed, single study is cherry-picked and then amplified to justify a cause - such as anti-vaccination believers citing Andrew Wakefield's long-debunked study alleging a connection between autism and the measles vaccine 
  • Ask yourself if it's believable because the science seems sound, or if it just might be a case of confirmation bias - that is, you're more inclined to believe what you're hearing and ignore any proof to the contrary, because it reinforces your preconceptions about something 

For more help with separating scientific fact from myths, check out:

See also: How to I spot fake news?

Adopted from the University of Toronto How to improve your science literacy skills