April 3, 2017
With the rise of fake news and “alternative facts,” no publication is better suited than Skeptical Inquirer to serve as a survival manual for the wilderness of misinformation. In its latest issue, leading thinkers confront the storm of falsehoods and pseudoscience with practical strategies built on a foundation of facts.
Columbia University astronomer David Helfand takes the lead as our guide through the Misinformation Age, warning that we are allowing ourselves to become “Google-fed zombies,” too reliant on dubious information sources that all seem equally valid. “If the talking box on your dashboard knows exactly where you are and can tell you how to get where you are going, why should talking to dead relatives not be plausible?”
If self-reinforcing social media feeds have broken the limits of plausibility, what is the answer? For Hefland, the only way to navigate the Misinformation Age — and begin to reverse its effects — is to mount a “counterinsurgency.” The reality-based community must forego partisan judgment, and instead break down arguments into their understandable component truths. “The power of science lies in its skeptical, rational, evidence-based approach to understanding the world,” writes Hefland. “This power begins with facts, and in my experience, these facts are the best tools with which to start the revolution.”