Asch and Merchant Newspaper Commentary Targets Fake News in Medicine

Asch and Merchant Newspaper Commentary Targets Fake News in Medicine

Say Academic Researchers Must Do More to Counter the Spread of Lies and Distortions

There's reason to worry that science and medicine are increasingly being dismissed as "fake news" and we need to prevent that because, quite literally, patients' lives depend on it, say David Asch and Raina Merchant in an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The commentary was a reprise of the Asch/Merchant Viewpoint that appeared in the December Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled "Protecting the Value of Medical Science in the Age of Social Media and 'Fake News'."

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LDI Senior Fellows Asch and Merchant

Asch, MD, MBA, is a Professor at both the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School, along with being the Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation. Merchant, MD, MS, is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Center for Digital Health at the Perelman School. Both are LDI Senior Fellows.

Erroneous claims
Their Inquirer piece points out that beyond the widely publicized but erroneous claims that vaccines cause autism, webs of false claims about miracle diets, natural "cures" for incurable diseases and other critical health issues are being presented by large swaths of the media as legitimate information. For instance, one study recently found that inaccurate "news" about the Zika virus propagated far more effectively across the media than accurate news about that disease.

"Scientists," Asch and Merchant write, "must get active -- not just by taking their messages to the public but by doing so in ways that distinguish their contributions from the fake news that surrounds them."