In my opinion, this is a very important message from H. Holden Thorp, the Editor-in-Chief at Science. He makes a key point that I think needs to be emphasized strongly, here on Peaceful Science and everywhere else. I would put it this way: we are mistaken, even deluded, if we think that people believe anti-scientific nonsense because scientists don’t do a good enough job explaining it to them. Here’s Thorp’s last paragraph:
The scientific community is losing the battle against this digital leviathan of misinformation. A well-reasoned and highly placed op-ed on this topic is not going to move the needle, no matter how well it is crafted to adhere to the best practices in science communication. Neither is a perfect trade book, television appearance, or speaking tour by a scientific leader. The only way to win this fight is to harness the same sophisticated tools in the name of science that are being used to tear science down. With social media companies afraid to challenge the misinformation machine, even when their own platforms are being misused, the task is daunting. But we can at least move on from the idea that if we could just find those perfect, persuasive words, everyone would suddenly realize that facts are facts with no alternatives.
Should we write about science, and invite non-scientists to read and wonder and enjoy? Of course. Should we do this thinking that we will thereby undo the damage done by networks and systems devoted to falsehood? No. Should we ignore the fact that these networks and systems are parasitic on aspects of our society (free speech, religion, association) that are bedrock values? No.