Well, by this time in May, I expect you are either using a lot more social media than normal, or are starting to not use it at much due to all the information about what is going on with the pandemic. I am seeing a lot of “fake news” that people are sharing and would like to take a moment to explain best practices from a Whole Family Medical perspective in deciding what is true and what is false.
The main way science works is to use logic and facts to come to a conclusion. How do we make sure we are using logic and facts? For a study to be published, it has to go through a statistical analysis most of the time. Math can tell us if what we see is “true” more likely than “false”. Also, to have a paper published in a medical journal, it also has to be reviewed by other peers to make sure there are no errors. Finally, if the study can be reproduced elsewhere and come to the same conclusion, then the facts are known to be true. Covid 19 is moving so quickly, that there aren’t too many completed studies, which makes it hard to know what a fact specifically about this virus is. However, we know lots of facts about other similar viruses, which are helping us with knowing when to “open up” from quarantine and how to best protect more people from getting hospitalized with it.
One big issue right now with internet news is people who have real credentials not giving good information. You can probably think of someone in your line of work with the same title or job as you, but they do your job very poorly. Once you have a degree, like “MD” it can’t be taken away from you. However, you can lose your license to practice, be fired from a job due to poor performance, and so on. We don’t tend to research the background of who is posting what on the internet, but I wish we would. Would you listen to someone who is a doctor, but had several research papers retracted due to bad science but they are still pushing the bad science of the papers as “truth”?
Another good tip is look at what the source of your information is. Is it an article or information from a news organization that is well known? They have to use good standards of reporting, fact checking, and will publish retractions if they make an error. Random Youtube videos really don’t cut it. Free speech is a great thing for our country, but just be wary of where you get your facts. Since you can’t un-see something, I usually check the source first and don’t watch it if it looks sketchy. Why waste my time?
When it comes to issues of health and science, I love to keep up with current articles and research. Please let me know if you come across something and wonder if it is scientifically true or not!