What is Fake News?

Fake science news comes in many flavors; we define it generally as information concerning the physical world that can be shown to run counter to facts as derived through the scientific method.

At the broadest level, fake news can be divided into misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation results from honest mistakes, sloppy reporting, or both. Disinformation reflects a purposeful intent to persuade or deceive using techniques such as logical fallacies and rhetorical sleights-of-hand.

There has always been fake news—consider the yellow journalism of the 1890s—but most would agree that has become more prolific and widespread in recent years. There is also agreement that it is sowing confusion amongst the public.

In regards to fake science news, at least 4-in-10 U.S. adults see significant problems stemming from media practices, researcher practices, and the public itself.

Many factors have put forward to explain the perceived increase in fake news stories, including widespread adoption of social media, fewer reporters and editors at traditional media outlets, a blending of news and opinion, the consolidation of the U.S. media landscape, and the conjunction of the perennial competition to sell news with the recent advent of a 24-hour news cycle.

Here we provide some tools and techniques for how to spot and counter fake science news.

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