Countering Pop Culture Pseudoscience: A Fireside Chat with Dr. Joe Schwarcz

In a world where we’re bombarded by Facebook memes and sensational headlines skewing our perceptions about food and health, it’s hard for complex, science-based messages to get the attention they deserve.

Legitimate scientific work based on replication and the peer review process tends to be complicated, tedious, and, often, boring.

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, doesn’t mince words when talking about the challenges in communicating solid science in the online world.

“The Internet is both an angel and a devil at the same time. It’s fantastic you can get information at your fingertips, but the work of the devil also comes to you with a few keystrokes,” he says in the interview below.

Whether it’s Mike Adams of NaturalNews, Joseph Mercola, or the Food Babe spewing pseudoscientific messages, their appeal is based on fear and our inability to accurately understand risk, explains Schwarcz.

“All we can do in a scientific realm is provide information that we think is scientifically sound, and on occasion, confront these people,” he says.

Schwarcz and RealAg’s Kelvin Heppner sat down at a recent ag science communications event in Saskatoon to discuss how science-based messages can be relayed effectively:


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