The scientific method is rigorous. Claims and premises are supported with evidence. The peer review system is designed to ensure that research is scrutinised by experts before publication. And whenever researchers lack certainty, they’ll emphasise that “further research is necessary” to land on the truth.
Unfortunately, fake science websites are learning to appear equally rigorous in order to trick their audiences into believing fringe, debunked and bogus theories. These websites seek to take advantage of our trust in experts, and the methods we use to verify information, to lend authority to anti-science positions.
Some even hyperlink to fake science published in what appear to be peer-reviewed journals but are in fact open access publishers who will accept anything submitted, provided their fees are paid.
Research shows that the anti-science movement is escalating and globalising. In a recent global survey, almost 50% of respondents said they see false or misleading information online every day. Over half of those who shared such information did so because they thought it was true at the time.
Fake science that masquerades as trustworthy and authoritative information is harder to spot. But by understanding the methods fake science websites are using, we can adjust our verification techniques to ensure we don’t fall for their deception.
Fake science websites use extensive hyperlinking to facilitate the appearance of trustworthiness. Hyperlinks act…