increase scientific literacy among the electorate
conquering this challenge will require partnerships among the scientific community, social media platforms, and democratic institutions.
science-centric bubbles on social media platforms, sheltered from often sizeable cross-sections of citizens that feel disconnected from the scientific community
minimally responsive to scientists who upload content—however engaging it may seem— to TikTok or YouTube
designed to monetize outrage and disagreement among users
Decades of communication research indicate that anecdotal accounts on social media of breakthrough severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections or severe adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of how rare both are, will be imprinted in people’s memories much more effectively than pages of sound statistical data documenting herd immunity
Preprints as a form of anecdotal evidence have exacerbated the problem
winning these short-term Twitter battles using questionable “evidence” that itself might turn out to be wrong is likely to do irreparable long-term damage to the public’s perception of science as a reliable way of understanding the world.
What evidence reaches which parts of the audience is increasingly up to automated algorithms curated by social media platforms rather than scientists, journalists, or users of the platforms themselves.
Algorithms that select and tailor content based on an audience member’s social context, personal preferences, and a host of digital trace data increasingly determine what scientific information an individual is likely to receive in Google searches, Facebook feeds, and Netflix recommendations (10)
Scientific logic and access to information are two of the main foundations of enlightened democracies
Training scientists to better communicate their science
gaming Facebook’s or Google’s algorithms when communicating science, using tools of digital marketing, for instance, to enhance the reach or effectiveness of their communication.
address the symptoms rather than the underlying problem.
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