How to fight an ‘infodemic’

An ‘infodemic’ is when there is a rapid and far-reaching spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about something. It can make it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Isaac Asimov defined anti-intellectualism as the attitude that: “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

But an infodemic bombards us with so much information that it is difficult to know what is based on knowledge and what is based on ignorance.

The case in point is information around Covid -19. It is very easy to find conflicting information online which can make us very confused about what to do for the best.

The world health organisation have put out these Top tips for navigating the infodemic as a set of filters to decide how much faith we should have in the information we come across.

The words in the picture are reproduced below so that those who may have difficulty reading from a picture can also read them.

  1. Assess the source:
    Who shared the information and where did they get it from?
    Even if it is friends or family, you still need to vet their source.
  2. Go beyond headlines:
    Headlines may be intentionally sensational or provocative.
  3. Identify the author:
    Search the author’s name online to see if they are real or credible
  4. Check the date:
    Is it up to date and relevant to current events? Has a headline, image or statistic been used out of context?
  5. Examine the supporting evidence:
    Credible stories back up their claims with facts.
  6. Check you biases:
    Think about whether your own biases could affect your judgement on what is or is not trustworthy.
  7. Turn to fact-checkers:
    Consult trusted fact-checking organizations, such as the International Fact-Checking Network and global news outlets focused on debunking misinformation.

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