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Carl Bergstrom in Scientific American on how to stay calm and make sense of pandemic news

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 16:15 to Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 16:15

Carl Bergstrom was interviewed by Scientific American about his tool kit for navigating the daily deluge of news about the novel coronavirus, from finding reliable sources to interpreting reporting about preprint research.

"The first thing to recognize [is that] because the science changes, the advice that you get from health professionals changes over time as well. You’ll see people saying, “Well, you can’t trust [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony] Fauci, because he was saying one thing in February, and he’s saying something else in July.” This is completely backwards. The people you can't trust are the ones who have not changed their views and advice, despite having enormously more evidence. The ones who are changing their views and advice, based on evidence, are the ones who are doing science and the ones who are giving good recommendations.

In terms of how you actually sort out misinformation, it’s important to look at the sources of the information. Maybe someone tweets that there’s this paper out, and that links to a newspaper story. Well, go back to the newspaper story. And then the newspaper story might link to the original paper. Go back to the original paper. Triangulating is another really important thing. If there’s a claim that’s out there, make sure that that claim is being made by multiple venues—and [that it is] not only tweeted by multiple accounts but is actually coming from different people. If something seems too good or too bad to be true, it probably is."

Read the full article here.

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