A CALL FOR LOGICAL THINKING
Please let us all start behaving rationally. The strain that this Coronavirus pandemic is having on our social behaviour, coupled with the easy accessibility to social media, is fuelling a rampage of disinformation that may end up hurting a lot of people.
Re-tweeting and re-sharing of posts, without verifying or doing a critical analysis of its contents, is causing a spread of rumours and conspiracy theories like never before. Unfortunately, some journalists too fall prey to this seemingly innocuous practice when they try to add some extra spice to the news stories for the sake of personal glory and click-baiting profits.
Therefore, it is now more important than ever before to brush up on our scientific thinking and include its principles into our daily life activities. When receiving and consuming news, and especially before sharing it with others, we should:
- Find the sources
- Assess the grade of evidence
- Check the methodology
- Include and quote the sources when sharing
FIND THE SOURCES
Always look for the source of the information, especially if it refers to a particular scientific study. Oftentimes the claims made in the post/ tweet/ article that you’ve come across are grossly exaggerated or totally misrepresented.
ASSESS THE GRADE OF EVIDENCE
An expert opinion is of very little relevance in the scientific process. Yes, experts know far more than us normal people, but in science, an opinion is just an opinion. It’s a starting point that has to ignite new research into the subject matter.
Unfortunately today we are seeing more and more “experts” fuelling fierce political debates where a relativistic scientific approach is warped into a mono-dimensional and absolutistic view.
Hence, it is essential today that you demand for (and learn to read) a scientific paper on the matter that is being discussed.
CHECK THE METHODOLOGY
The abstract section of a scientific paper is a good starting point that sums up the whole study. However, the methodology used helps us to assess its level of evidence and can tell us if the study had enough scope to allow for generalisations.
QUOTE THE SOURCES WHEN SHARING
Lastly, especially if you have spent a lot of time unearthing the sources of the new information, QUOTE THEM while sharing your opinion. You will help the next rational mind to save some precious time and possibly even help the entire world by inspiring a fact-based debate.