IFLS: Truth or Lies?

GABRIELLE QUICKSTAD

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Source: Edublogs

Most people have heard of the popular Facebook page “I f—king love science,” a page devoted entirely to new discoveries in the scientific world. Posts range from the ominous (“This Deadly Disease Threatens Millions, But No One Knows About It”) to the absurd (“How To Win At Darts With Science”). The page was created by Elise Andrew in 2012, and in less than four years, “I f—king love science” has racked up an astounding over 23.5 million likes (myself included).

Much of my knowledge on current scientific discoveries stems from my Facebook wall – I click on almost every “I f—king love science” post I see. However, it can be dangerous to rely so heavily on one source for such important information, especially when that source’s reliability may be questionable. So how reliable is “I f—king love science”? Is it science or pseudoscience? Fact or fiction? Truth or lies?

My search began much the same as any other morning – with a coffee, and Facebook open on my phone. I happened across an “I f—king love science” post regarding a clinical trial in France that left six participants hospitalized. The tested drug was supposedly a “cannabis-related painkiller,” and the participants were testing the medicine to see if it had any detrimental side effects: it in fact did. Later in the day, I was reading The New York Times before class and I happened upon another article about the same event. This article claimed, “the drug was not a cannabis-related painkiller.” I quickly went to http://www.iflscience.com only to find the article had been recently updated; it said the previous assertion that the drug was “cannabis-related” was only a rumor spread by the French media. I was impressed with the site’s ability to quickly correct the article and keep its information up to date.

The next article I looked into was “Hawaiian Baby Born With Shrunken Head is First U.S. Case Related to Zika Virus.” A Google search instantly brought up a CNN article about the same case. The CNN article was sure to mention how the CDC did not expect the virus to spread to the United States due to “air conditioning, window screens, and cold weather.” In the “I f—king love science” article, the Zika virus seemed more terrifying simply because the article chose to leave out certain information. In general, the “I f—king love science” post painted a more terrifying picture of the Zika virus for Americans when, in reality, the U.S. is in little to no danger of a Zika outbreak.

Overall, “I f—king love science” turned out to be more reliable than I could have expected. The site checks its facts with at least somewhat reputable sources and is quick to correct any errors. Unsurprisingly – and like many other sources – “I f—king love science” did exaggerate a bit or left certain pieces of information out to make the story more interesting and appeal to a wider audience. To my fellow avid “I f—king love science” supporters, I would suggest to at least fact check some of the page’s posts.

It’s so easy for an article to change a person’s perception on a topic. Something as simple as replacing the word ‘accident’ for ‘catastrophe’ can alter the way a reader interprets an event. So, while “I f—king love science” may be somewhat reliable, it never hurts to do a little more research to figure out whether that deadly disease really is deadly, or if there really is a way to win at darts using science.

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