Reducing Health Misinformation in Science: A Call to Arms
The public often turns to science for accurate health information, which, in an ideal world, would be error free. However, limitations of scientific institutions and scientific processes can sometimes amplify misinformation and disinformation. The current review examines four mechanisms through which this occurs: (1) predatory journals that accept publications for monetary gain but do not engage in rigorous peer review; (2) pseudoscientists who provide scientific-sounding information but whose advice is inaccurate, unfalsifiable, or inconsistent with the scientific method; (3) occasions when legitimate scientists spread misinformation or disinformation; and (4) miscommunication of science by the media and other communicators. We characterize this article as a “call to arms,” given the urgent need for the scientific information ecosystem to improve. Improvements are necessary to maintain the public’s trust in science, foster robust discourse, and encourage a well-educated citizenry.