The committee will evaluate methods for engaging scientists across the globe in assessing misinformation about biological threats.
Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington Dean David B. Allison, an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, has been appointed to a new ad hoc committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to develop methods for assessing misinformation about biological threats. According to NASEM, the goal of the committee is "to evaluate options for long-term engagement of scientists internationally to identify and address claims about biological threats that emerge or are perpetuated by the spread or dissemination of inaccurate and misleading information (intentionally or unintentionally)."
The spread of misinformation during infectious disease outbreaks can make it challenging to maintain public trust and enact procedures that will help control outbreaks. The NASEM committee brings together preeminent scientists and scholars from around the world to analyze how scientists can best evaluate and address inaccurate claims through collaboration and communication.
"Science is often fun, wondrous, and beautiful. Science is often practically useful. But science must always be about evidence and the pursuit and communication of truth – or else it is not science. I have always believed this," says Dean Allison. "My sense is that almost all elements of society believe in the value of science in general but struggle to discern legitimate from distorted and bogus science. As scientists, we need to find better ways to help the public see these differences. We can start with a look in the mirror and assure that all of our communications as scientists scrupulously report the simple and unvarnished truth of our findings."
The committee will summarize their findings in a brief report directed toward society at large and specifically organizations involved in science engagement and communication activities.