Science Misinformation

Science Misinformation

Science misinformation is all around us. Whether we stumble upon it while casually browsing the Internet or see it shared by friends on social media, science misinformation continues to spread. To combat this, it’s important to build awareness and think critically. This helps support science literacy and lets us separate misinformation from facts.

Learn how to identify science misinformation, why it’s important to address it and what resources are available from the Government of Canada, academics and other organizations to help.

How to identify science misinformation

With information coming from various sources online, it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. Here are some ways to identify misinformation online and make better evidence-based decisions.

Understand what is misinformation and disinformation

  • Misinformation is any false or misleading information, regardless of intent.
  • Disinformation, a subcategory of misinformation, is false information created with the intent to deceive, to profit from it or to cause harm.

Verify information with trustworthy sources

If you come across information that seems questionable or inaccurate, verify it with trustworthy sources.

Some examples of trustworthy sources for science information include:

  • scientists
  • doctors
  • other health professionals (e.g. nurses, pharmacists)
  • academic scholars from accredited universities
  • science centres and museums

Investigate the original source

To confirm if the information is accurate, investigate its source. If it originates from social media or a forum, see if other reputable sources back it up.

Check the domain name

A red flag that websites are spreading misinformation is their domain name. They may mimic popular news sites by misspelling words or subtly altering the URL.

Why misinformation should be addressed

Misinformation can make understanding important topics more difficult, especially when the science is complex, incomplete or evolving. The consequences of science and health misinformation are serious and can potentially threaten the health and safety of Canadians, particularly through:

  1. Spreading information on false preventative measures or treatments
  2. Creating hesitancy to accept scientifically proven treatments, which can affect the health of individuals and the broader Canadian public
  3. Questioning people’s confidence in science and health services
  4. Creating doubt in public scientific or health institutions

Resources

Educational materials are crucial tools for addressing science misinformation. Here are some valuable resources for Canadian educators, parents and youth:

Actua
Actua is a Canadian charitable organization that prepares youth ages 6–26 to be the next generation of leaders and innovators. It engages youth in inclusive, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) experiences that build critical skills and confidence. Through a national outreach team and a vast member network of universities and colleges, Actua reaches Canadian youth through summer camps, classroom workshops, clubs, teacher training and community outreach activities.

Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC)
CASC supports a network of science centres and museums. It offers resources, professional development and advocacy to strengthen informal science learning in Canada. Science centres and museums work to showcase science by illustrating its beauty, demonstrating its necessity and making it accessible to the general public.

Let’s Talk Science
Let’s Talk Science is a Canadian charitable organization committed to developing youth who are creative, critical thinkers and knowledgeable citizens prepared to participate and thrive in a complex global environment. For more than 25 years, it has provided engaging, evidence-based STEM programs at no cost for Canadian youth and educators.