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Health Feedback
08/09/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Many memes posted on social media question the effectiveness of face masks by asking why measures like lockdowns and physical distancing would still be necessary “if masks work.”

These memes oversimplify the concepts of risk and protection by portraying them as binary concepts that either exist or do not exist. The reality is that risk and protection exist on a continuum. Scientific evidence has demonstrated that face masks reduce the transmission of viral respiratory infections like COVID-19 to some degree. Practicing physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, along with wearing masks further enhances the effectiveness of face masks.

This is analogous to measures used to improve traffic safety, like seatbelts, which significantly reduce the risk of injury or death from a traffic accident. But seatbelts alone do not remove the risk entirely, hence they do not render additional safety features such as airbags and brakes redundant. In spite of this, one would not argue that seatbelts are useless simply because they do not prevent all risks.

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/masks-offer-only-partial-protection-from-the-virus-that-causes-covid-19-but-their-effectiveness-can-be-enhanced-with-other-measures-like-physical-distancing/

Health Feedback
04/09/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Claims that the PCR test for the novel coronavirus detects human DNA—and that many test results would therefore be false positive—are based on a flawed understanding of how the test works.

The PCR test is the method of choice for detecting SARS-CoV-2. It is able to detect small amounts of the virus’ genetic material by recognizing a genetic sequence unique to the virus and making many copies of it, in a process called amplification. The recognition of the unique sequence is achieved by using a pair of primers, which are short sequences of single-stranded nucleic acids. Based on the principle of complementary base pairing, the primers can recognize specific regions of the genome flanking the unique sequence.

Although one of the primers used in one type of PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 matches a sequence on human chromosome 8, its partner does not recognize sequences in human DNA. In such a case, amplification would not take place and the test would produce a negative result. Therefore, the test would always produce a negative result if only human DNA was present. Hence the claim that the RT-PCR test would produce a false-positive result due to the presence of human DNA—and the implication that the number of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results is artificially inflated for this reason—is incorrect and misleading.

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/human-dna-alone-does-not-produce-a-positive-result-on-the-rt-pcr-test-for-sars-cov-2/

International Fact-Checking Network
21/08/2020

International Fact-Checking Network

CONGRATULATIONS! 22 projects from 12 countries will split $1 million provided through a partnership between The International Fact-Checking Network and YouTube via Google News Initiative. Read more about how each group plans to advance the field of #factchecking 👉 https://poy.nu/31h05WX

#factcheck #factchecker #facts #ifcn

Health Feedback
20/08/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Antibody studies have been making news headlines, but they’re not the only players in our body’s defenses against #COVID19. New findings suggest that a prior history of infection with other coronaviruses may prime the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2 through persistent, cross-reactive memory T cells.
Scientists who reviewed this National Geographic article found that it accurately reports the new findings.

Dr. Angeline Rouers:
“More and more studies indicate that T cell immunity has a huge role in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 and the ongoing vaccine development has to keep this in mind. However, it does not mean that antibodies have no role at all … It is possible that vaccination turns out to be very successful in eliciting very good antibodies, but only the future and more investigations can say.”

Learn more: https://healthfeedback.org/evaluation/potential-role-for-t-cells-in-covid-19-immunity-accurately-reported-in-national-geographic-article/

Climate Feedback
07/07/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

An article by Michael Shellenberger mixes accurate and inaccurate claims in support of a misleading and overly simplistic argumentation about climate change. The article was published in various media outlets, including Forbes, Zero Hedge, Breitbart, PJ Media, The Daily Wire, The Australian, and Quillette and has received a wide audience on social media. Forbes unpublished the flawed article on the same day it was published “because it violated our editorial guidelines around self-promotion”, Forbes told.

Scientists who analysed the article found that several of the claims, such as “climate change is not making natural disasters worse” and “humans are not causing a ‘sixth mass extinction’” contrast with current scientific evidence.

Prof. Stefan Doerr
The article argues that society has been misled about causes and consequences of climate change, which has led to “climate alarmism.” The author advocates that we should be less concerned about climate change than many environmentalists argue. Whilst the latter is relative depending on how concerned an individual is and which specific (and perhaps extreme) view this aligns with, some of the supporting statements in the article related to wildfire are (i) inaccurate for key facts supporting argumentation, or (ii) omit important information that leads to flaws in the conclusions.

https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/article-by-michael-shellenberger-mixes-accurate-and-inaccurate-claims-in-support-of-a-misleading-and-overly-simplistic-argumentation-about-climate-change/

Health Feedback
23/06/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Blood type isn’t just important in blood transfusions - it’s also known to influence the risk of developing certain diseases, such as malaria. A claim that blood type O is protective against COVID-19, reported in several outlets including Jerusalem Post, has gone viral following findings from a few studies suggesting an association between blood type O and a lower risk of developing #COVID19.

In fact, scientists have warned that not enough evidence exists to establish a causal association between blood type and COVID-19 risk. Furthermore, they have also highlighted that the risk of COVID-19 infection and disease severity depends on many factors besides blood type, such as the presence of pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes. Any protection arising from type O blood might be quite small compared to other factors. Therefore, regardless of their blood type, people should continue to take precautions to avoid SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Prof. Laura Cooling in an 11 Jun. Chemical and Engineering News article:
“[COVID-19 risk depends on] what your blood type is, relative to the other person who exposed you, relative to all the other genetic and acquired health conditions you have.”

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/people-should-continue-to-take-precautions-against-covid-19-regardless-of-their-blood-type/

Climate Feedback
18/06/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

An article in The Guardian misleadingly claims that the latest generation of climate models are more sensitive to carbon emissions than scientists previously thought. Scientists that reviewed this article state that the best estimate of climate sensitivity, or the amount that global temperature rises in response to increased CO2, remains within the range presented in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. By only focusing on one climate model that showed high climate sensitivity, the article overlooks limitations of the model as well as other scientific research in this field.

Prof. Reto Knutti:
“The Guardian article is cherry-picking a single technical paper and over-interpreting it as being relevant for the prediction of long term warming, without sufficient context on the vast amount of literature that does not support such a conclusion.”

https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/article-in-the-guardian-misleads-readers-about-sensitivity-of-climate-models-by-narrowly-focusing-on-single-study-jonathan-watts/

Climate Feedback
12/06/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

Initiatives to plant trees to tackle climate change can be found across the world, yet the international conversation on tree plantings as a solution to reducing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere and mitigating the rise in global surface temperature is mixed, with judgments ranging from helpful to harmful.

We examined the benefits and limitations of tree planting as a climate solution based on comments from 10 scientists in the field and current evidence. Scientists emphasized that even though planting trees can assist in climate mitigation if done carefully, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation are the most important climate solutions. The complex benefits and limitations of tree plantings depend on geographic region, local ecology, social context, planting approach, and a variety of other factors.

Prof. Karen Holl:
“Planting trees can be a small piece of the effort but it is not a silver bullet. People perceive it as a cheap and easy way to address climate change and it is much more complicated than it seems.”

https://climatefeedback.org/the-potentials-and-limitations-of-tree-plantings-as-a-climate-solution/

Health Feedback
12/06/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

A CNBC report that “coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus” led to confusion over the necessity of social distancing and use of face masks. It also served as the basis for misinformation about these public health measures.

Scientists told Health Feedback that a fundamental difference between the scientific and non-scientific interpretation of the word “asymptomatic”, which was not well-explained, led to this confusion. CNBC has since corrected their article to explain the definition of “asymptomatic” for readers and the significance for transmission by pre-symptomatic individuals.

Prof. Nina Fefferman:
“The WHO narrowly defines ‘asymptomatic’ to mean ‘never develops any symptoms at all, during the entire course of being infected’. This is not how the public (or the press) interpret ‘asymptomatic’ - instead, the more common interpretation is about whether or not people who are not obviously ill with COVID-19 related symptoms can spread the infection. The WHO data says they CAN, but calls these people ‘presymptomatic" or else "paucisymptomatic’, meaning presenting few or unusual symptoms. This has VERY different epidemiological importance and it is entirely wrong to interpret the WHO announcement as a criticism of efforts to limit spread from seemingly healthy people who may transmit the virus to others.”

Read more: https://healthfeedback.org/evaluation/people-who-do-not-show-symptoms-contribute-to-significant-covid-19-transmission-contrary-to-cnbc-report/

Climate Feedback
06/05/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

On 21 April 2020, Michael Moore released a documentary on a YouTube channel titled Planet of the Humans, which has received millions of views already.
Upon review, many claims made in the film regarding renewable electricity generation are misleading and not supported by current scientific evidence.

One of the core claims of the movie, for instance, is that “you use more fossil fuels to [build a solar power plant] than you’re getting benefit from it”. In reality, it generally takes solar panels less than two years to generate the amount of energy that was used in their construction, while wind turbines do the same in less than one year.

Read on for more details:
https://climatefeedback.org/planet-of-the-humans-documentary-misleads-viewers-about-renewable-energy/

30/04/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Some early studies show fewer smokers among COVID-19 patients, leading to claims that smoking might protect against COVID-19.
Scientists who reviewed this claim found this to be unsupported and misleading, highlighting the fact that none of these studies demonstrated a causal association and were not designed to do so. Multiple studies have shown that smoking increases risk of respiratory infections and complications, although larger and more rigorous studies are needed to understand why the reported number of smokers in these COVID-19 studies are lower than expected.

Stephanie Christenson:
"These articles are misleading and unsupported (low credibility) at best, but generally mostly inaccurate with flawed reasoning (very low credibility). [...] When comorbidities and age aren't taken into account, it appears that smoking is protective, but when these variables are appropriately factored into analyses, these associations do not hold up. [...] Indeed, in appropriately designed studies, smoking is associated with increased risk for developing severe pulmonary infections and ARDS in general."

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/little-to-no-evidence-that-smoking-protects-against-covid-19-may-increase-risk-of-complications-instead/

Health Feedback
27/04/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Many hypotheses have been advanced to explain where the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) actually came from. We investigated the three most widespread origin stories for the novel coronavirus (engineered, lab-leak or natural infection), and examine the evidence for or against each proposed hypothesis.
This is quite long and technical, but if you are looking for a scientific investigation and what can be said based on evidence, have a read!

Although none of the individual pieces of evidence definitively identify the virus’ origin, the preponderance of evidence when taken together currently points to a natural origin with a subsequent zoonotic transmission from animals to humans, rather than a bioengineering or lab leak origin.

https://healthfeedback.org/did-the-covid-19-virus-originate-from-a-lab-or-nature-examining-the-evidence-for-different-hypotheses-of-the-novel-coronavirus-origins/

Health Feedback
22/04/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

The debunked claim that #SARSCoV2 is manmade and contains genetic material from HIV was revived by virologist and Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier, leading to numerous articles going viral on social media. In fact, this claim, which is based on a now-withdrawn preprint, was already shown to be false by several scientists in February 2020. And based on the available evidence, experts have concluded that the virus is much more likely a product of natural evolution rather than engineering.

However, many outlets have published Montagnier’s claim without verifying its accuracy, under the assumption that it is credible solely because of his scientific credentials. This is a common logical fallacy known as “appeal to authority”, and demonstrates the importance of verifying scientific claims with other experts, rather than simply taking such claims from a single expert at face value.

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/claim-by-nobel-laureate-luc-montagnier-that-the-novel-coronavirus-is-man-made-and-contains-genetic-material-from-hiv-is-inaccurate/

Health Feedback
17/04/2020
Health Feedback

Health Feedback

Posts lambasting 5G technology abound on social media, accusing it of various harms, including causing, spreading, or worsening COVID-19. A variant of that idea is that the electromagnetic fields used in 5G technology alter the structure of hemoglobin, the protein contained in our red blood cells that enables them to bind and release oxygen.

The available scientific literature and the physical characteristics of the non-ionizing electromagnetic fields used for 5G demonstrate that this claim is baseless and incorrect. More importantly, 5G deployment is very limited worldwide and cannot explain the high death rates in certain regions badly hit by COVID-19, such as Northeast France, Iran or Northern Italy.

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/conspiracy-theorists-claim-that-5g-increases-vulnerability-to-covid-19-with-baseless-theory-that-it-affects-hemoglobin/

Climate Feedback
07/04/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

The Antarctic ozone layer is recovering and has the potential to recover to 1960 levels by the end of the century, as claimed in an article published in The Independent. The article relies on a recent study that demonstrated atmospheric circulation trends in the Southern Hemisphere, which are driven by ozone depletion, have paused or reversed. These changes are attributed, in large part, to reductions in ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons.

Prof. Ravishankara:
"The findings of the paper are not unexpected since this is what should happen as the ozone hole is starting to heal. The indicators that the ozone hole is showing signs of healing has been known for a few years. This paper shows that the trends in tropospheric circulation due to the ozone hole not getting bigger and showing some healing is detectable."

https://climatefeedback.org/claimreview/the-antarctic-ozone-layer-is-recovering-but-the-independent-claim-fails-to-grasp-significance-of-study-it-relies-on/

Climate Feedback
01/04/2020
Climate Feedback

Climate Feedback

Several news outlets have claimed that deforestation makes humans more vulnerable to pandemics, such as the COVID-19 one.
Scientists have indeed shown that deforestation can cause a cascade of effects that drive the emergence and spread of some infectious diseases. However, they also emphasize that this is a complex process and many of the effects of deforestation on human diseases remain unresolved.

https://climatefeedback.org/claimreview/deforestation-can-facilitate-the-emergence-and-spread-of-some-infectious-diseases/

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