Defining and Measuring Scientific Misinformation

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<jats:p> We define scientific misinformation as publicly available information that is misleading or deceptive relative to the best available scientific evidence and that runs contrary to statements by actors or institutions who adhere to scientific principles. Scientific misinformation violates the supposition that claims should be based on scientific evidence and relevant expertise. As such, misinformation is observable and measurable, but research on scientific misinformation to date has often missed opportunities to clearly articulate units of analysis, to consult with experts, and to look beyond convenient sources of misinformation such as social media content. We outline the ways in which scientific misinformation can be thought of as a disorder of public science, identify its specific types and the ways in which it can be measured, and argue that researchers and public actors should do more to connect measurements of misinformation with measurements of effect. </jats:p>





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Southwell, BG, JSB Brennen, R Paquin, V Boudewyns and J Zeng (2022). Defining and Measuring Scientific Misinformation. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 700(1). pp. 98–111. 10.1177/00027162221084709 Retrieved from

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Brian Glen Southwell

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine

Dr. Brian Southwell is an adjunct professor with Duke's Department of Medicine and also has worked with the Social Science Research Institute and the Energy Initiative. Southwell directs the Science in the Public Sphere program at RTI International and also is a faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill. He hosts The Measure of Everyday Life, a weekly public radio show, is the author of Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health (Johns Hopkins University Press), and edited Innovations in Home Energy Use: A Sourcebook (RTI Press) and Misinformation and Mass Audiences (University of Texas Press).

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