Although this is a slow time for blogging, Climate Progress has had some valuable posts that shouldn't be missed. This week, they are posting a five part series (part one is here) on the Debunking Handbook by John Cook who wrote it originally for Skeptical Science.
This is a valuable handbook for all communicators who need to dispel misinformation. The introduction explains the thesis.
Debunking myths is problematic. Unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct. To avoid these “backfire effects”, an effective debunking requires three major elements. First, the refutation must focus on core facts rather than the myth to avoid the misinformation becoming more familiar. Second, any mention of a myth should be preceded by explicit warnings to notify the reader that the upcoming information is false. Finally, the refutation should include an alternative explanation that accounts for important qualities in the original misinformation.
So whether you are talking to your coworker about the dangers of global warming or simply trying to rescue your uncle from the FOX propaganda fog, this guide can help. All of us who care about the state of the world owe it to ourselves and our communities to know how to communicate better with those who are misinformed about the serious matters that face our world.