How do you successfully debunk misinformation?
The question is a deceptively simple one—which is precisely the problem.
Debunking is easy—just refute false claims, and provide corrective information.
Debunking successfully is something else again-you have to change minds, and make the corrective information stick. And how does that work?
Well, as it turns out, we actually don’t know very much about the process. But what we do know was recently compiled into a brilliant short document, the Debunking Handbook, available free for download from the website Skeptical Science.
Point of Inquiry recently caught up with one of its authors, John Cook, in San Francisco at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
John Cook is the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia. He studied physics, and maintains the popular global warming website “Skeptical Science,” which refutes misinformation by explaining, in user friendly fashion, the findings of the peer reviewed literature.