Some lessons from the health community’s long battle with misinformation.
Long before Hilda Bastian was a health researcher, she endorsed a practice she believes may have cost lives.
“I think people died because of me,” she said recently. “And I'll spend my whole life trying not to do it again and to make amends.”
In the 1980s, Bastian was skeptical of the medical establishment. As the head of Homebirth Australia, she traveled the country and appeared on TV programs arguing that moms should have their babies outside the cold confines of hospital rooms.
Then she learned babies born at home in Australia faced a higher mortality risk than those born in hospital at that time. The fact disturbs her to this day.
In the decades since, she’s become one of the most prominent thinkers in the world on scientific literacy and evidence-based medicine. She has dedicated her life to figuring out how to reach people with the best available health research and fight back against misinformation.
For her and many other health researchers and doctors, “fake news” and misinformation — problems that suddenly seem dire in light of Donald Trump’s election and the growing influence of sites like Alex Jones’s Infowars — are nothing new. And over the past 30 years, mostly under a movement called “evidence-based medicine,” they’ve come with up with tools and techniques to fight back against bunk. They’ve also learned hard lessons on what doesn’t work when it comes to using facts to change people’s minds and behaviors.
Their lessons can help all of us — journalists, policymakers, teachers, educators, and even just concerned citizens talking to friends over the dinner table — who care about evidence and want to empower others with it.
Full story in article.