School children
(Credit: Brad Flickinger / Wikimedia)

The internet provides access to a vast trove of information. Much of it is trustworthy and valuable. But some is inaccurate or misleading.

Zucker: “Scientific misinformation is widely recognized as a big problem … whether that’s false claims about vaccines or climate change or miraculous cosmetics or amazing products that are supposed to make babies more intelligent.”

Science educator and researcher Andy Zucker says it’s important that young people learn to tell the difference between sources they can trust and those they should be skeptical of.

Zucker: “Unfortunately, most schools are not well prepared to deal with the onslaught of misinformation in this age of social media.”

So he co-developed a one-week curriculum for middle and high-school students called Resisting Scientific Misinformation. The lesson materials and a teacher guide are freely available online.

Students learn how to assess an author’s credibility, analyze an article’s purpose, and evaluate its claims. Students are also introduced to well-established institutions such as the CDC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He says having a list of reliable sources to turn to can help everyone, student or not, cut through the fog more easily.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...