For Hilda Bastian and other health researchers and doctors, “fake news” is nothing new, notes Julia Belluz. During the past few decades, they’ve devised tools and techniques to fight back against misinformation, primarily within a movement called “evidence-based medicine.”
Bastian was once a critic of the medical establishment who argued, as the head of Homebirth Australia, that women should deliver their babies outside of hospital rooms—before she discovered that babies born at home in Australia at that time actually faced a greater risk of mortality than those born in the hospital. She’s been working ever since “to make amends.”
“They’ve also learned hard lessons on what doesn’t work when it comes to using facts to change people’s minds and behaviors,” Belluz says.
These lessons, argues Belluz, can help journalists, policymakers, teachers, educators, and even citizens “who care about evidence and want to empower others with it,” particularly in the era of Trump and in the wake of Russia’s disinformation campaign on social media.
Such lessons include taking the time to explain why you believe something, making sure your information is reliable and easy to access and holding misinformation peddlers, like Dr. Oz, to account.
Another great strategy: teach children ways to think critically about the information they’re given as early as possible, says Belluz.