Alternative Facts and Fake News: Standing Up for Science Amid Misinformation Campaigns

Watch the archived webinar:

Friday, June 12, 2020 at 3:00pm ET

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of false and misleading information about the virus is triggering dangerous and divisive reactions that imperil public health and well-being. How can scientists combat the proliferation of these "alternative facts"? Should they attempt to rebut false charges that distort or deny evidence-based, data-driven findings? In this interactive webinar, international keynote speaker and persuasion expert Mark Bayer will discuss the elements of alternative facts and strategies for debunking them, using as a case study the science communication and policy environment surrounding COVID-19.

Learning Objectives:

  • An understanding of the historical roots and features of alternative facts to deepen understanding of these terms
  • Why eradicating them is so difficult and when it's not productive to try
  • Why fighting alternative facts with actual facts backfires and stiffens resistance to sound data and evidence
  • Effective approaches for combating false or misleading claims that use tools appropriate for countering the underlying features supporting alternative facts
  • The often symbiotic relationship between alternative facts and "fake news"

Webinar Speaker: 

Mark Bayer, President, Bayer Strategic Consulting, is an international keynote speaker and consultant specializing in the art and science of skillful communication. A former Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Mark designs and delivers interactive, true-to-life training that gives scientists and engineers proven, powerful tools for clearly communicating their work and effectively navigating challenging policy environments. Mark teaches scientists and engineers the same methodology he used during two decades of work in Congress to rapidly distill complex policies and concisely explain them to Members of Congress and journalists from leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, PBS and many others. Mark’s work on how to combat alternative facts has appeared in Science magazine and The New Yorker. Mark serves as a guest lecturer in the Science Policy Bootcamp course at Cornell University's Meining School of Engineering. He has trained the AAAS Science and Technology Fellows serving in Congress and the Executive Branch and delivered science communication workshops and online courses to grad students, PhDs, and Postdocs at an array of research universities, including UChicago, UVA, MIT, University of California-Irvine, Arizona State and others. Host of the weekly podcast When Science Speaks, Mark explores communications, science policy, and career issues affecting grad students, PhDs, and Postdocs in engineering and the natural and social sciences. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

The opinions expressed in this webinar are those of the speakers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Alda Center.