How Anti Science Front Groups Manipulate Legitimate Scientific Debate

August 20, 2020
Grant M. Gallagher

Scientists are willing to speak out and have collegial debates – but medical institutions and media have to catch up: fringe voices are often the only ones platformed to discuss important scientific nuances or debates.

"At some point somebody in schools of communication handed down the edict that all science communication must be conducted at the 6th grade level...for years I've had tremendous frustration trying to convey nuance."

Scientists are willing to speak out and have collegial debates — but medical institutions and media have to catch up.

Additionally, some who come forward with genuine credentials aren’t always open about their political motives; fringe voices are often the only ones platformed to advance the important scientific principles of skepticism and debate.

In this clip, we talk to Dr. Peter J. Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez discusses the scarcity of good science communication amid the world's first social mediatized pandemic.

Of particular note are the ways political front groups are not up front with their biases, leading to astroturfing that disrupts science conversations about real issues.

Hotez is a physician and researcher with experience in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. At Baylor College of Medicine, Hotez is the Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine. Dr. Hotez is also involved in vaccine development efforts related to SARS-CoV-2.