How to fact-check Coronavirus (mis)information online

This is taken from Lifehacker

By Emily Long

Don’t believe everything you read on social media. This is a good general rule, but it’s especially important when the news (and your newsfeed) is filled with misleading to straight-up false information about an easily misunderstood topic like the coronavirus.

So how do you know what—and who—to trust?

Journalist Will Oremus points out that a best practice is to cross-check everything you read rather than taking it at face value. Instead of viewing a single source of information as absolute truth, look elsewhere for confirmation of (or to debunk) supposed facts.

Here are a few reliable resources to cross-check about CORVID-19 claims:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO): WHO has the most up-to-date information about what’s going on with coronavirus on a global scale. You’ll find travel recommendations, situation reports and prevention best practices on the WHO website.
  • The CDC: The CDC offers status updates about coronavirus cases in the US and abroad as well as information about testing, prevention and treatment, as well as recommendations and resources for specific groups (schools, hospitals, and airlines, for example).
  • Your state, county, and local health departments: If you want to find out what’s going on in your area, check your health department’s website. This is where you’ll get the latest information about local cases, prevention procedures, community resources, recommended closures, and who to contact if needed.
  • Major news outlets: The media isn’t an “official” source of information, but if you’re looking for news about what’s happening in a specific city or state, check outlets that are local to that area. Don’t rely on your local news in your home state to tell you what’s going on in Washington.

This all boils down to basic media literacy skills—as in, being able to think critically about where information comes from, whether it’s credible and how to evaluate sources. This takes a little more time than retweeting a meme, but it’ll help prevent the spread of bad intel.

Common Sense, a nonprofit that educates kids and families about digital and media literacy, recommends asking the following questions about anything you read:

  1. Who created this—and why?
  2. Who is this message or information for?
  3. What’s being used to make the message credible or believable? Stats? Expert quotes?
  4. What details were left out—and why?
  5. How does this information make you feel?

Bottom line: think before you worry—and don’t simply repeat everything you read.

We can react quickly to pandemics

In 2009 there was the swine flu pandemic, with anywhere from 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities. Since it was influenza, it was quite contagious, with an R0 of 1.2 to 1.6. And the world’s medical institutions quickly responded, and in less than a year there were 100 million vaccines available. Click on the graphic below to see more clearly how the world responded.

The Response to the 2009 Flu Pandemic Was the Fastest in History

The R0 for COVID-19 seems to be slightly higher, from 1.4 to 2.5. Still, they are pretty close. Hopefully the WHO and CDC manage to come up with a vaccine quickly for this.

Scientists view atomic bonds breaking and forming

Scientists in the UK and Germany have viewed individual metal atoms making and breaking bonds. They used carbon nanotubes as a scaffold to hold the atoms in place. This is with individual rhenium atoms. You can see the distance between the atoms grow and shrink depending on the environment. It looks like this type of microscopy will become important in chemistry.

More white rhinos please

Angalifu, male Northern White Rhinoceros at San Diego Wild Animal Park. Angalifu died from old age on December 14, 2014.

The Northern White Rhinos are almost extinct. There are two still alive, and both are females. This does not bode well for future cute baby rhinos. But scientists have saved the sperm of some currently dead male white rhinos, and they’ve managed to create viable embryos using eggs from one of the living rhinos and some of this sperm. They plan to implant it in a surrogate mother (a southern white rhino) soon.

Dead Zones in oceans are increasing

Dead Zones are areas in the oceans that have very little oxygen. They don’t have enough oxygen to support most marine life. We’ve known about them for a long time, but now the number of them are increasing rapidly. This threatens populations of large fish, including tuna.

This is tied in with climate change, because warmer water can’t hold as much oxygen as colder water. Over time, this will have profound effects on many marine populations.