Is there any way to do citizen science around misinformation?
January 12, 2021 2:30 AM   Subscribe

I have an advanced degree in an applied social psychology, work psychology. I have training in research methods/design and statistical analysis using R and SPSS, relevant subjects such as attitude, knowledge and learning theory, and some consumer behavior theory as well as real-life marketing experience. (marketing and consumer behavior seem like it might be pretty generalizable to understanding the epistemic crisis we are in). I'd like to help in any way I can and it sounds very interesting.

I’ve always been interested in topics of epistemology, and for some time conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. I used to read Carl Sagan and James Randi stuff when I was younger. I want to know if there is any way I can contribute to research on this subject through a citizen science group or anything more formal. I’d like to help out. This is also becoming something that hits pretty close to home. I'd like to help.
posted by Che boludo! to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should also add I know a bit about influence and persuasion.
posted by Che boludo! at 2:41 AM on January 12, 2021

My first thought was there are show hosts on cable TV who could use you as a talking head, and my second was that maybe you could do something similar on a local level answering questions on Nextdoor or similar. And, back on a wider stage, answering questions on Quora.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:21 AM on January 12, 2021

Check out Nathan Matias, founder of the Citizens and Tech Lab at Cornell. I don't know if there are specific ways for volunteers to get involved, but Nathan is amazing (as well as being just a really sweet person), and citizen science around misinformation is what he does -- for example, collaborating with large science and news subreddits to test changes to moderation techniques and measure their effect on upvoting of misinformation. He seems equally focused on the misinformation and citizen science sides -- interested in figuring out the surprising ways things help or backfire, but also in teaching communities how to be rigorous about learning what works and what doesn't.
posted by john hadron collider at 5:51 AM on January 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm headed towards a similar destination (currently a programmer, working on my masters in Psych) and have been investigating opportunities. I haven't found any obvious ones, so my guess is that the best idea will be to build my skills and then use them to directly make content (videos and text posts on other sites) about topics that have a lot of misinformation. There are individual academic-led projects in this space, but it doesn't really seem like anyone is organizing at a larger scale.

There are a ton of academic-sounding youtube videos from the right wing spreading misinformation, but very few fighting against it. So my personal plan was to try and directly fight against that misinformation with videos, gain experience with techniques, then try and network with others (like you) with similar goals. But I'm still finishing my degree and am only in the building skills phase.

If there is some sort of organized cross-discipline effort in this space (other than the Cornell one linked) please let me know. Otherwise I think it's going to be up to individuals to build one from the ground up
posted by JZig at 8:47 AM on January 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have a blog where I go into bad businesses (mostly bad MLMs), bad science, bad medicine, and so on, and how propaganda is used sometimes for evil.

And how supposedly "good" websites can easily turn bad when a writer can't hide his/her bias but presents bias as if it's backed by studies... when it wasn't. Doesn't get many readers, so updates are sporadic at best. :D
posted by kschang at 10:05 PM on January 12, 2021

« Older Help me be paranoid in the right direction   |   What 1970s sci-fi was closest to this scenario in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.