The medical community has a rich history of false information, and it even got to a point when the community itself was the perpetrator of fake news. Mis- and disinformation have become so prevalent that even in the age of the internet, it remains to be the most difficult challenge healthcare workers have to win against. 

But that doesn’t mean that we will and shall remain silent against all the misinformation and disinformation that’s been thrown our way, especially in the middle of the pandemic.

That’s why for this episode, I invited Evan Thornburg, a bioethicist and TikTok content creator who aims to battle public health disinformation and misinformation by educating people on issues concerning public health. 

Do not become a victim of these social media “experts” and their unverified and mostly untruthful claims. Join Evan and me as we talk about the importance of acknowledging and understanding the roots of both mis- and disinformation in the medical field. Gather tips on how to effectively combat fake news both as a content creator and as part of the audience.

Why you need to check out this episode:

  • Discover how the internet has affected the overall situation of medical misinformation and disinformation, both positively and negatively;
  • Find out why you should first acknowledge and validate the reasons of people who believe in conspiracy theories instead of dismissing them right away; and
  • Learn why you should never talk to an audience in such a way that would make you sound like the smartest person in the room. 

“I don’t want to explain ‘why this is wrong’. What I want to explain is what someone is doing. What I want to explain is the technique they’re using. What I want to explain is how you can see this for yourself. Fortifying or sharpening everybody’s abilities to identify the problem means that I don’t have to be there every time a new concept comes out.”– Evan Thornburg

Topics Covered:

00:00:00 – Introducing today’s guest, bioethicist and social media anti-misinformation and anti-disinformation advocate, Evan Thornburg

00:03:20 – “Medicine has always had a background in my home”: Evan talks about the things that drew them into bioethics and public health

00:09:50 – “In medicine, we also have to look in the looking glass”: Evan shares their thoughts on the overall state of misinformation and disinformation in the field of medicine

00:20:24 – “Prior to the internet, health care was very private”: Evan explains how the presence of the internet affected the magnitude and intensity of medical misinformation and disinformation

00:38:55 – “I decided not to bother to learn about all the misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories out there”: How Evan reconciles being the person who has to try to move people “off the pivot”

00:52:18 – “My creative thought is reserved for academic spaces”: How Evan deals with comments such as “you’re not presenting anything new or creative”

00:56:50 – “I certainly could walk away and have been the smartest person at that table. But for what?”: Evan explains why you should never talk to your audience as if you are in a conference

01:02:17 – Connect with Evan Thornburg

01:03:25 – “I’m never going to run out of material”: Evan answers the question of whether they’ll continue with content creation after they graduate or if they have other plans

Notable Quotes:

“Misinformation has been a bit of a keystone in medicine when we start to look at it through the lens of the history of medicine, especially of black and brown bodies.” – Evan Thornburg

“One of the things that I’ve learned in researching and trying to understand people’s consumption of disinformation and misinformation and conspiracy theories is that they experience an intensity of fear and anxiety around health and health information. And I think it’s fair to affirm that. I think the first place that a lot of folks go wrong is denying them that reality.” – Evan Thornburg

“We’ve overbought into the marketplace of ideas. We’ve overdrunk that Kool-Aid too deep like the best idea will just naturally float on top. It doesn’t. The most exciting idea, the most promoted idea, the most beneficial financially idea does.” – Evan Thornburg

“We don’t have a natural propensity towards integrity… Most people choose integrity when they think something has integrity to it. But it’s not a natural propensity for us to just know what’s the thing with the most integrity.” – Evan Thornburg

Please SUBSCRIBE for new videos every Monday afternoon and Thursday Evening