South Africa: 'Speed Science' and Online Rumour Blur Fact and Fiction

Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (file photo)
opinion

Battling to cope with the incessant hum of contradictory Covid-19 messages and information? Are you overwhelmed, perhaps panicked by the deluge of news on news websites, social media, and WhatsApp groups? Don't know what to believe any more? Or how to separate inaccuracies from pure conjecture? Roving Reporters guides us through the minefield.

This article was first published by Roving Reporters here

Technology speeds the spread of agendas, spin and misinformation;

False news often spreads up to six times quicker than truth;

According to a study, top 1% of false news spread to between 1,000 and 100,000 people;

Scientific truth, on the other hand, barely reaches 1,000 people.

It can be difficult to understand the subtle nuances science communicators use in their articles. Scientists too can be swayed by emotion in their haste to share their potentially groundbreaking discoveries.

The speed at which scientific papers are being published could be partly to blame for the deluge of information overwhelming us.

Reuters labelled this phenomenon "Speed Science". It found that at least 153 studies encompassing many scientific areas had been posted or published since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Some 675 researchers were responsible for this prolific output. In stark...

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