Helping science succeed
Helping science succeed

Combatting disinformation

We're fighting a global fire

With a whole lot of garden hoses

Disinformation has reached crisis proportions today, particularly on social media where users can spend 8-10 hours per day consuming falsehoods and conspiracy theories. The effect has made us vulnerable to fascists, science deniers and distorters of history, and increasingly unable to tackle very real societal issues.

There’s only so much we can do about this crisis by working separately. Lots of groups are trying, and this is important. But the problem is much larger than any one of us can cure by working alone.

SCI is developing projects to help combat disinformation from several different angles—in the here and now (our own contribution to the garden hose brigade), but also the longer term collective action approach.

Wikipedia funding

SCI’s contribution to the garden hose brigade is to help improve the ability of Wikipedia to combat disinformation. To accomplish this, we’re raising funds to pay for full-time paid disinformation editors for Wikipedia. Keeping Wikipedia as disinformation-free as possible is important since it’s the world’s most widely used encyclopedia, and often sits atop Google search results. Especially now during this election year, when people go to the internet to do their own research, it’s critical that the most visible search results from Google contain accurate information. A recent study in Nature shows that bad search results from Google might be a leading cause for the rapid spread of disinformation.

Disinformation awareness training & education (DATE)

SCI’s longer term solution is to build a global disinformation awareness, training, and education (DATE) program. DATE is designed to create networks of trainers who can wield influence at the neighborhood and company level to help citizens recognize disinformation, think critically about issues and not accept the word of con artists at face value, and educate others to also recognize disinformation and think critically. DATE training is a new skillset for a new era of information. Citizens need the tools and training to be better prepared to sift truth from fiction and value knowledge over nonsense.

Collaborative action network

We’re also going to keep our radar attuned to seeing whether this space needs an action network, similar to what we’re trying to organize for carbon dioxide removal policy development. We’ll keep you posted.