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Participate in each monthly challenge to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. Explore the current challenge below, share your accomplishments on social media with the monthly hashtag, and check back soon for next month's challenge.
Between the worldwide, breakneck search for an end to the pandemic and the general craziness of 2020, science news is spreading faster than you can say “coronavirus.” And a lot of it—intentionally or accidently—is wrong.
Your challenge this month is to set things right. Share your favorite misreported or fake science news, along with the correct scientific explanation. Include the hashtag, #NovemberNope, to help spread more real science.
Useful Science Sources
ACS Publications: it’s best to read the original research, to ensure that what you’re seeing in the news is accurately reported. If your school doesn’t have a subscription, ACS members can download up to 50 articles per year for free, and anyone can access the abstracts. (Or contact the author—many are happy to share copies of their papers).
Other journal access:
ACS open access journals: ACS has several open access journals that combine the ease of open access publishing with the high quality and reputation of ACS journals
SciFinder: tool to help you locate journal articles. ACS members have free access, and many schools have additional subscriptions
Most peer-reviewed research papers are written by experts for experts. If you want to keep up in the world of science without becoming an expert in every single field, the following are good sources of science news. Use them to verify research discussed in mainstream media or just to see what’s going on.
Chemical & Engineering News: the flagship ACS magazine reports advances throughout the chemical enterprise. In addition to highly skilled reporters and editors, the magazine has over 150,000 readers who can and will point out any inaccurate reporting.
Science: in addition to ground-breaking research, AAAS publishes in-depth science news for a more general audience.
Nature Chemistry: chemistry-focused news and views from the famed peer-reviewed journal
If sifting through the original science isn’t an option, find a trusted source (or better yet, several sources) to help you separate fact from fiction.
Snopes: a non-partisan site dedicated to debunking myths on a variety of topics
SciCheck: part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, this site specifically addresses science claims made by politicians
Science Feedback: based in France, this fact-checking site is managed by scientists to provide accurate science reporting
Full Fact: a UK team with a broad range of backgrounds addressing social media
Sharing Accurate Science
Share facts and science in language everyone can understand. Use data to tell a story, make a picture or video. Get creative and have fun!
Inaccurate science and pseudoscience usually have flashy titles and images that people love to share. Make sure good science is equally interesting, so that people who want the facts get them.
Compound Interest: Use this collection of chemistry infographics developed by educator Andy Brunning for quick fact-checks or to share good science with your followers. Also check out these 2 infographics to help you sort through science claims in the news and social media:
Dealing with pseudoscience on social media:cognitive dissonance makes it really hard to change someone’s mind with facts alone. Here’s how to handle family, friends, and followers who insist on sharing their “chemical-free sunscreen” and “cancer-curing pumpkin seeds”
Listen to their perspective: consider the concerns, values, and background that lead to the belief to develop a more effective counterargument. Plus, understanding a different point of view will enrich your own opinions, for the same reason that diversity in teams leads to better results. And little empathy will also make it easier to…
Be nice: name-calling and snark just put people on the defensive. When was the last time you listened to someone who called you stupid or felt comfortable hearing a peer get berated?
Give them an out: make it okay for them to change their minds. “It was reasonable to think X at the time, but things have changed since then and we have since learned Y is much better.”
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