Viewpoint: Lack of trust in science on GMOs, vaccines and climate change fuels coronavirus misinformation

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What is driving the novel coronavirus infodemic? Fear, uncertainty and opportunistic marketing are all playing a role. But it is also a legacy of our growing distrust of science, experts and health-care institutions.

The issue of trust is complex and health-care providers and scientists are still relatively respected voices. But there is no doubt that even a modest increase in suspicion toward these key institutions can help fuel the spread of harmful misinformation. Indeed, any lack of trust in science, public-health officials and health-care institutions will make it more difficult to combat both the outbreak and the spread of misinformation ….

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This breakdown in trust is happening at a terrible time. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. Fermenting distrust has become the go-to strategy for selling health products, generating clicks and getting elected.

The science communication battles surrounding topics such as genetically modified organisms, climate change, organic food, raw milk, fluoride and vaccines all contain messaging that encourages a distrust of science, experts and government officials. You can’t believe the science, the opponents and deniers will say, because the science and the experts are corrupted and not to believed.

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