Even an “investigative journalist” can’t tell truth from fiction at the site. How can the general public?
Attacks on scientists and doctors are nothing new, and scientists who participate in social media on heated issues like climate, women’s health, vaccines, and GMOs must don asbestos pantsuits and lab coats to do so. That said, most of the ones I know fall into the category of “Truth Warriors” recently described at AAAS meeting and still want to participate in the fray to support science-based policy:
Believes it is ethical to be informed and supports using scientific research for public decision-making.
Certainly this category is not only restricted to scientists, though. There are many other supporters of science-based policy who participate in conversations on these issues. Teachers, parents, and many people from a wide range of backgrounds also join in discussions. Unfortunately, this opens them up to the same attacks that scientists face.
The goal of misguided zealots, cranks, and conspiracy theorists is, of course, to silence the voices to speak to science on these topics. Scientists I know receive disturbing mail in both physical and virtual forms. Cranks contact their workplaces and attempt to damage their reputations and safety in many ways. Recently, a vocal teacher was subject to anonymous emails to their workplace with wild claims and misinformation that were described here: Anti-vaxxers, white supremacists, and Scientologists….. you don’t scare me, by Stephan Neidenbach.
A recent attack on me, led by someone who claims to be an investigative journalist, had many of the same features.
The similarities do not end with with the odd and bizarre conspiracy theory claims of stolen identities, though. The anonymous writer of the teacher’s colleagues letter cites SourceWatch as a source of their attack misinformation.