Not even science is immune from fake news

Fake news panel
Vinny Green of, Jevin West of the University of Washington and Ina Fried of Axios discuss fake news during the 2017 GeekWire Summit 2017. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

The controversy over fake news may focus on politics, but it’s also slipping into the scientific realm, says one of the country’s pioneers in the study of B.S.

The hunger for clicks and credibility has led to the proliferation of bogus research journals with serious-sounding names, University of Washington information scientist Jevin West said today during the 2017 GeekWire Summit.

“It’s really, truly an epidemic. … This is a science crisis right now,” West told GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop, who was the moderator for a panel on technology, media and the future of the truth. “Just like in the regular world, people are creating journals by putting up a WordPress site and saying, ‘I’m the Journal of Todd’s Dog-Killing Organization. If you hate dogs, then you should write a research article.’”

Sometimes the bogus studies even get written up by bona fide journalists, said West, whose college-level class on calling B.S. has generated international attention.

Axios’ chief technology correspondent, Ina Fried, weighed in with a jocular reality check: “As a journalist, I just do want to state directly, I have no evidence that Todd kills puppies.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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