Video recording, resources, and tips from the CASW Connector Chat on Tuesday, April 16, 2024

On April 16, CASW Connector hosted a Chat discussing science journalism and communication in the misinformation era. The panelists talked about key concepts – and misconceptions – that journalists and communicators encounter in combating misinformation, shared insights from research on how people process information, and answered questions from the audience. 

This event was facilitated by Connector managing editor Kate Travis, and the panelists were: 

  • Kai Kupferschmidt, contributing correspondent at Science and Knight Science Journalism Fellow
    • Bio (Science)  | X: @kakape | Bluesky:
  • Briony Swire-Thompson, director of the Psychology of Misinformation Lab and assistant professor of political science, psychology, and network science at Northeastern University
    • Faculty page | X: @Briony_Swire | Bluesky:

Below, you can watch a recording of the Chat and read through resources curated by the panelists, as well as other links and tips provided during the session.

For questions, contact the CASW Connector team at And sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about future Connector Chats!

Key terms and concepts:

  • Misinformation: any information that is counter to current science
  • Disinformation: information that is deliberately misleading
  • Fake news: false or misleading information presented as news, often hosted on sites that are set up to mimic news sites but do not offer true reliable information
  • The Moses illusion (or semantic illusion): listeners or readers are likely to overlook distorted or false information when following an expected pattern
  • Backfire effect: if you try to correct information, people try harder to defend the original (incorrect) information
  • Illusory truth: as listeners or readers receive the same information again and again, they start to believe it more
  • Prebunking: sharing correct information before a reader/listener encounters misinformation

Research on misinformation:

Misinformation games/apps (mentioned during the Chat):

Additional tips and notes:

  • Misinformation is not a new issue, but there’s more attention to it now due to COVID-19 and other recent events.
  • Measuring belief is hard, which can muddle the available scientific data on how people believe misinformation.
  • Conspiracy theorists and those spreading misinformation have different motivations; motivations can be hard to discern.
  • It’s okay to repeat misinformation when attempting to correct it; the backfire effect is not a replicable phenomenon.
  • Accuracy, it turns out, is not a high priority among us humans. (Humor, entertainment, etc. also play roles in what we believe and trust.)
  • There’s no magic bullet to increasing trust, but consistency is a good start.
  • Who or what entity is the best person to combat misinformation – this depends on the topic and on who your audience may find trustworthy.
  • It’s important to consider your resources when reporting on misinformation. Even if you might not popularize an incorrect fact by reporting on it, consider whether the misinformation has spread widely enough to be worth your time in countering it.
  • In research, people respond well to corrections; but getting corrections to people is tough in the real world, as that information enters a crowded ecosystem for people’s time and attention.
  • People sometimes have specific sources (like a particular scientist or journalist) that they consider trustworthy, even when they think of mainstream media as a whole as untrustworthy.
  • Educating people about both the scientific process and the journalism process can help to improve trust.
  • Highlight complexity and unanswered questions, particularly when reporting on a novel issue in which much is unknown (like the spread of a new disease). People are more able to understand nuance than you might think!

Additional articles & resources: