I love Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but I think I am ready to dump all those platforms. My timeline is filled with nothing but uninformed opinions and news articles either from fake news websites or misleading articles. One of my favorite examples of fake news was the Breitbart article that paraded a bunch of doctors for all the world to see. Breitbart gave these doctors a platform where they could tout Hydroxycholorquine as the miracle cure that the mainstream media is trying to hide.
It only took a quick Google search. My favorite of the group was Dr. Stella Immanuel who has contended:
“Gynecological problems come from people having sex with demons and witches in their dreams.”
“The magic 8-ball is a tool to get children to accept and use witchcraft.”
At the very least, these doctors might be this side of insane, which is one of many reasons why they are not good sources to refute the “mainstream media narrative” that all medical research shows that Hydroxycholorquine is ineffective against COVID-19.
Sadly, multiple “news” sources on social-media give voice to dubious doctors who insist that “COVID-19 is so-called because it is imitating a corona virus;” that is, it was made in a laboratory. Even more laughable was the former social media friend who sent me a QAnon article saying that if you lived in a home with only one bathroom and you got COVID-19. the government would come and take your children away.
This parade of psychiatrists, chiropractors, and general Internet nutjobs in social media pretending to be infectious disease experts would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that the “Dr.” in front of their names might lead the public to think that they are actually experts in the field of infectious diseases. That is why it is so important to educate our friends, neighbors, and students about how to properly do their own research.
Because of this, I have reworked the syllabi for all six of my classes to include one full class period devoted to how to tell the difference between a good source and a bad source. If we are going to use the Internet to do our own research then we must all know how to do it effectively. Otherwise, we will continue to be bombarded with conspiracy theories and misinformation in social media.
I beg my fellow educators to do the same. As the people who shape young minds, we have a responsibility to teach our students how to be responsible and intelligent consumers of data. If we can teach young people to be critical in their consumption of information, then maybe we can reverse some of the damage done by widespread ignorance and misinformation. The kids are our future, and we must make sure that the future is bright.