Doug Specht, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications, has provided video comment for the i newspaper on how to spot fake news like a scientist during the coronavirus outbreak, following an abundance of false information circulating online.
In the video that has been posted on the i newspaper’s Facebook page, he shared six tips on how to spot fake news, including being aware that the journalist needs to select which parts of a research paper to include in the article; looking out for big claims and exaggerations; differentiating between something that “has been proven” and something that “might happen in the future”; looking for a reference to the original source; checking whether the views in the article come from the researcher or the journalist; and checking if other outlets are reporting the same story.
Specht says in the video: “Recent weeks have seen us inundated with science related news, especially related to coronavirus. A lot of this news can feel rather confusing for those of us who aren’t a doctor, and it can sometimes feel that the news and information is changing very quickly. But what we need to do is we need to learn to read like a scientist.”
Specht also advises to visit the World Health Organisation’s myth buster webpage for the facts.
He has also teamed up with Dr Julio Gimenez, Principal Lecturer in English language and academic and professional literacies at the Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation (CETI) at the University, to write a Conversation article on the same topic.