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Preventing a Pseudoscience Pandemic | DAVOS 2020

Lisa Sanders
Associate Professor at Yale University
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World Economic Forum 2020
January 23, 2020, Davos, Switzerland
World Economic Forum 2020
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About speakers

Lisa Sanders
Associate Professor at Yale University
Oliver Cann
Head of Strategic Communications; Member of the Executive Committee at World Economic Forum
Robbert Dijkgraaf
Director and Leon Levy Professor at Institute for Advanced Study

Clinician educator in the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program. In addition to work as a physician and teacher, created and still writes the popular Diagnosis column for the New York Times Magazine as well as the Think Like a Doctor column featured in the New York Times blog, The Well (2011-2016). Column was the inspiration for the Fox program House MD (2004-2012) and was a consultant for the show. 2010, published a book titled “Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis”. Most recent book, “Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries” (2019). Collaborated with the New York Times and producer Scott Rudin to create a 7 hour documentary series on the process of diagnosis and the use of crowdsourcing (2019). Before going to medical school, Emmy award winning producer for CBS News. Attended Yale School of Medicine and received graduate training at the Yale's Internal Medicine, Primary Care Residency Program.

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1996, BA (Hons) in Government and European Union Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. 1998-2006, Partner and co-owner, Thompson Stanley Publications, United Kingdom; 2006-08; Head of Business Media, Press Association, United Kingdom; 2008-12, Head of Media Relations, Aspect Consulting, Brussels, Belgium. With the World Economic Forum: 2012-14, Associate Director, Media Relations; since 2014, Director, Media Relations.

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Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study since 2012. Mathematical physicist who has made significant contributions to string theory and the advancement of science education. President of the InterAcademy Partnership; past President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; distinguished public policy adviser and advocate for science and the arts. For contributions to science, recipient of the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands. Named a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Trained artist, writer and popular lecturer.

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About the talk

Fraudulent and unsafe practices that claim to be science-based are proliferating across the internet. What are the most dangerous claims being shared and how can they be addressed?

Speakers: Lisa Sanders, Oliver Cann, Robbert Dijkgraaf

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.

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Wit'cho cute post about Souda X versions unsafe prices the claims response based the proliferation across the internet for one more time. The entry points is a couple of days ago, but every year we find out she trusts in climate science is actually declining your near that much as we arrived and dressing more more than I thought. Messages failing to cut through that we may don't have the expertise you play guess it already released. Growth your director and Leon Levy Professor The Institute for advanced studies in the USA with theoretical physicist out of string theorist.

So rubber that's why we getting it wrong. Why is he decides winning? There are many reasons. I think notary pseudo-sciences might be winning because there are some real at Missouri electric stove people wanting me see is that science is becoming more and more important. It's more and more steering. Our decisions is underpinning our policies. So it has a media that package and we have to be realistic. There are some forces who don't like this and this is something I've seen before we have seen it during the Cold War is the health

effects of smoking can be have seen it in the end of fire mental issues. I think a climate-science and climate change is it is it is a great example of what you see these Average price of global organization but also I think there's something else going on which is that and I would almost want to say that is a note that the glass-half-full attitude is that people are in generally more knowledgeable than knowledge spreads faster to the internet service is something happening, but I would like to call look like a Proto scientist in people people are trying to investigate themselves

and and I have great difficulty in fully grasping all the complexities of the issue and show all these issues are any scientific topic. It's about the fact was also about doing certain things and is a very strange particular for climate. I think there's a very strange psychological fact that I would say almost in every Elements of Life. We want to have almost like a hundred percent guarantee. The things do not go wrong. It seemed to be that for climate. We want to have a hundred percent guarantee that thing new girl wrong and

Which is very crazy. What if you would like to board the plane and he would say it has a 90% chance of crashing. If you talk about the planets, then people still 10% that has to be investigated. And so let's do a little bit. It's me. I think we have to prepare that these issues will stay with us because he has no holes new series of important scientific development technological development impact has the same complexity the same kind of impact as a climate change as

fast as we will become purchase our knowledge. We acquire the more we are inclined to get wrong. Yes, well, that's something that would mean an element of this is that we can debate is but the wonderful thing is no scientist and also studied is so people are studying how we communicate science how we are dealing with these issues and one counterintuitive snack, but it seemed to be quite Universal is that if you learn more about it your opinion that are

sold the most obvious solution to this too many scientists as well. Just spent more information explain it to you again and again and again and again, but it's something that we have to address probably in a smart away and I hope that the other Sciences on this is a poros on myself and this is something that social scientists Etc study communication Sciences. So I think it's something that we probably can find smarter ways to counter it. These forces which I

feel will only grow in time in addition to the more, you know, the more it's solidified your belief system gets. I think it's also like a growing at some skepticism about what sort of an ant is or tarianism even as we move towards authoritarianism in my country, but there's a kind of distrust of authority that makes people go. Oh, yeah, I think so that I don't really understand where it's coming from certainly see it all the time. When you look at vaccines, it's been well studied the more people the more you try to educate people when

they've done studies the less likely they are to change their mind and actually some people move from being up short texting through fine. Everybody. Does it. Maybe I don't want to have my child vaccinated with the application of more information. So I don't I don't think we really understand how this all works but it certainly having a devastating effect of us the mushroom in the world has just so many ways to manipulate people's opinions that maybe they really post will get closed

his reading of course, Corporation YouTube. I believe it is the number of number of that steak referrals by 50% year-on-year being recruited on mass by the big social media platform site. It seems maybe there is a plan in place in the area. Comparative history with me just to chat with people who have finding ways of abusing and exploiting frame seasonal digital system. Right. Am I think that you have to be pretty sophisticated to tell the difference between what's true in science and the

people who set out fake stuff in science. I mean they have like they come from different institutes and they probably can always different papers and they have all these fancy letters after their names. So they look like they use the right language or languages that sound scientific. So they have a symbol of reality or truth that is not true that we have been here before. Everything was fake signs price was not like me or whatever and you see when the printing press can you think? no it was distributed but actually do us like incredible

amount of pain in the sixteenth and seventeenth Century pamphlets with obscured text exactly what you were just saying happened of course there was a kind of weaving out process and a scientific literature was established so and in retrospect with a wonderful because before that it was very dogmatic point of view for the fact that people were challenged to think for themselves that the scientific method short ammo you can actually see with your own eyes how things work instead of just hearing in in maths bee sometimes talk about proof by intimidation and I think that's a very bad

way to present science so I think there are some kind of correcting mechanisms but it was a painful process and in some sense the communication means have been disrupted Mind of one of my colleagues had this wonderful phrase. That's the problem with the Department of the global village RIT, Global Village Idiot, and so they can spread know and so right with you saying that something very clever. They pick the acronyms which are close cousins of the established organizations. Do the media play a very important

role because often these things are discussed in a way where media feels that should be kind of two-sided sword should give a fair chance. Someone hands you would have to 98% of climate scientists and it will be representative who has to be to the rules that science imposes would be very careful with your statement side. Somebody has like completely and can play as as dirty as you want and if it's in debates and dance Control, which actually will be a loss for Science.

And if I'm very refreshing to know some news organizations have decided to think BBC recently show the other side because it's a gravity. Anti-gravity person to sit on the other side and talk about whatever crazy ideas know. You just know it's a law of nature. Tell whether it's just a media or if it really is a proliferation people who believe in crazy things like another this whole Flat Earth saying it's hard to imagine how anybody can go for that and maybe

it's really only two people who know how to manipulate the media. I can't believe that it's only commercial interests to drive this and I certainly in climate change their people who are obviously have a lot to lose but like anti-vax who's profiting from that really one guy is still his study still got there. Okay. If you go to that page, you can see it has a big stamp over its effects of Nations that I'm having a little next bit, but I find kind of interesting today because some people say well wait a moment there are many other viruses Tetra shoot me vaccinate against everything and artists from

in unintended consequences. So they stay put some? I think putting the question marks it's fine, but I told him I wish you could get them easily view of survive. It's basically a total reset the human system fast devastating consequences. So you can say well whatever you doubts are there are a few that sounds like To take anyhow, because you can make the case much stronger. So I think through this this this kind of natural disaster people have their questioning

with an element. I think him as a scientific Community. We can have a real balanced and meaningful answers to it. continue You know, I mean if you if somebody breathe or sneezes in a room that was measles vaccine viruses stay airborne for nobody else know other diseases that so I mean it is if there's one person in the world with a hundred other people then there's a very good chance that 10 of those people are going to get the measles have been saying so if you're going to make and I think that's a reasonable way to go. You know, I'm sorry. I gave my kids to the chickenpox vaccine

good for now. They're in their twenties. It's not working. So so there are some things that were less useful. Maisel Tetons and Mom's. I mean the reason that people were at least initially against it doing it because why do we need nobody has any more will that is not the case now? Tell me questions. We reaching the halfway point station. Text Mom. Hey, please. Hi, my name is Alejandro medical doctor from Columbia part of the global Shapers community in Columbia. So I want to touch on the point on their

cultural differences and maybe the differences and uncritical pricing science between no hind countries and middle and low-income countries because it seems that for some of the activity anti-vaccine movement. That would be very much. I need you to find some country. So what are your takes on the differences between this cultural background? The point public torture differences in the two things. You can measure. How much people are aware of the issues and how much they feel that action should be taken and if you look around the globe, you see all

possible combinations. So the one thing we should typically in the global South the people initially are less aware of it for the moment. They become aware. They also want to take action so does very little planet skepticism. I think I think like Latin America and Japan they are both aware and they want to take action North America is this one says we need an exception to the rule and even I think within Europe you see local differences and we think that science is universal language. So we were describing Universal a fax near me. How did language is lower than appreciated your cry trying to

point out that a lot of cultural differences. So I think if you Want to address these issues we also have to be aware of what the local culture is culture in terms of its very history dependent how people Potter book the position of Sciences in a particular country or Community how people should be addressed how they feel with respect to Authority. So I strongly feel this this has a very Regional and cultural coloring both in the effect and how it has to be addressed. I think we did a pretty poor job

in many cases of introducing trying to sell the idea of vaccines. We just thought we're big or America where you're up where scientist this is the right thing to do and just said we should do this and then funding in Out programs to vaccinate everybody without really thinking about these people have opinions of their own and we have to convince people that it's the right thing to do. We can't just say do this and expect them to jump because I believe that we have a history is filled with Wicked, you know it in the past and so people may be rightfully

skeptical and I think we didn't do a good job a good enough job of convincing people have been solved. Text Missy hair as well. Maybe maybe the the more informed you are about spotting fake news online or misinformation online. Maybe maybe digital literacy is going to be a big help and knock and address things in addressing such concerns as soon as I sign seen in other parts of the world. Just because we don't really, you know, in medicine in particular were terrible with math. I mean, so we pretend like we have these conversations about evidence-based medicine, but we don't

really do this. We don't really feel comfortable with the math. So I think it's it's been difficult. You know, I don't know. I forgot what I was going to say Nations and viruses a little bit because I think they're part of all of this is going to build in kind of an intellectual immune system. Do we have to be able to react to this infiltration of fake news? I think I'm becoming a political scientist realistic where you like in the US with both both watch

CNN and Fox News. I will people some some type of account of Exercise their their brains if I can say it like that have to fix the critical thinking that they are more politically engaged to 1 correlation and I feel that perhaps we had me in a bit negligent. Also, I think from the scientific Community to build that's immune system maintenance on since we have almost done but you're leaving children in the sterile environment. Do you think if you just are just are fat the fact that you will appreciate times. I think you need a certain kind of medicine is I think

you have to train people in their critical thinking because whatever's happening now with these topics of anti-vaxxers or climate deniers. It'll be an ex prices will be the next topic effects of Nations or or having an infection is that you build up antibodies to the next and I think that's something that we have to do. So it's it's something much Is Wallenpaupack so I don't think I just learning more about the climate or learning more about the Buddy will immunise ourselves to the next two days which might be about AI or about Quantum

technology or or something that the S yet has to be invented and there are some kind of General skills, which I think again go to the Art and Science to actually look at the evidence think critically about it until this uncertainties and be part of our dealing with is a crucial part that creates in the more room for people to eat beef fat the wrong punctuation or Draw the wrong conclusions. Beliefs of insect has to be shifted or influences employment near Behavior being influenced successfully in any

way to Bacco clearly, you know, I took a long time companies for right and it took a lot. It took a lot of stuff coming out from their from their records being through lawsuits, but I think your idea of an intellectual immune system is a really powerful metaphor because one of the things we know is that people don't actually form their own opinions. They take on the opinions of the people around them. If you could maybe try to deal with it, that's her metaphorical level. You know, when I

was a kid, we still have chicken pox parties, so they would whoever Had the chickenpox it would be a party at their house and then we'd all get the chickenpox. Am I wonder if there's a way to sort of identify people who are going to be the right people to spread a message and targeting those people rather than trying to Target everybody because even people who want to understand numbers and Science and that all that literature going to be hard for them. It's hard for me. So just got to be a way to spread it in a different way.

Oh, yes. I think I have Fake scientists learn from signs and they they they try to replicate at least successful in spreading fake science is real progress dig deeper and will be more complicated and so it will be more difficult to understand the science in a hundred years will probably be knowledgeable from the person point of view and yet at the same time its impact will be bigger because because of details so the big risk, is that the moving to society that's something the occurrence. I'm

totally in the grace of Science. And so that Gap that knowledge Gap Gap has to be bridged and so we have to really think about building. Bridge, I think I'm not just for the general public alongside in the scientist me do this. I think we need intermediaries. We have to think about how to spread the knowledge how to educate show me. I think from the point of view of science. We need Bridge hats on the other side people in the media people in policy that are willing to play this these rolls and I think there's a lot of knowledge in people

who build the digital infrastructure to know about Communications. That's what that can help in the end. I think these processes could help also to bridge that gap, which is now think you know, very fearsome development. Think about the role of government on the good old clunky old fashioned top time a price of a regulation for examples of countries. The Impossible and enforcing it Brew and Grow and then there so you can get for religious and personal reasons all kinds of reasons that you can choose not to get your children

vaccinated and the more exceptions are the children are that I get back tonight. If there is one state by the Mississippi or Alabama next to each other and I get them confused that long ago. Everybody has to be vaccinated before they start Public Schools no exceptions. And they have the highest rate of vaccinations in the country. It's not well known for their education for their valuing of science. It was supposed to rule everybody. And so I think that there is a role for government to be inflexible like that. We have this good that you want to

participate in public education. This is the price you have to pay for it. I totally agree. This means that sometimes it really going to depress you with all the stuff we have to fight this battle again and again, right. Talk about timing chains and vaccinations between tobacco we had so many issues. And unfortunately, I think it's in the scientific Community about tobacco know what was really important and regulations. It's kind of forbidding smoking in public public rooms taxes and Tobacco I think also shows that there was a very difficult

to get 100% Why didn't the still than 20% some country for people who smoke at the risk? So I think it would be fine with it. And I don't think I feel we should say well we only go to be active in climate say we wait till we are. The last person to convince him to get a hundred percent by in probably you will never get that but I think you're quite wrong. It's Indians its efforts been really make a difference. And educating the medium and I think the media

sort of has stumbled around without recognizing their power and how much it's changed. And I think that they just haven't been haven't kept up with it. You know, there's this idea the Jeffersonian idea that the way to or Madison is a way to fight bad ideas with more ideas and they just feel like what we'll just what you said. We'll just keep pushing it out there and people will eventually be beaten into submission, but that doesn't work and I think that end and this fair is am also both sides ISM. I think they are slowly getting over that

fascinating one could say it was Bridge the scientific Community College on the paper in your wake using it for the fairies purposes. Did I Cry mission tortillas? Thank you very much.

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