Over the past few years, misinformation has spread like wildfire in the US and across the globe. False facts have spurned the development of conspiracy theories and have led to significant public health concerns; examples include downplaying the very significant and real danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and perpetuating the myth that vaccines cause autism. The takeover of social media into daily life has accelerated the development and spread of this harmful information.
Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) have also suffered at the hand of misinformation but this is no recent news. As far back as the “Reefer Madness” campaign to scare people into avoiding cannabis use, governmental bodies, politicians, and private organizations have waged a war against the plant. Negative stigma and criminalization has significantly impeded scientific research and held patients back from accessing medicine that can substantially improve their lives.
While research has advanced in the past few years, the majority of these studies have focused on the negative effects of cannabis use. The media grabs a hold of these results and often misreport the findings to fit the classic stigma.
So, if you’re looking for legitimate information on CBD and cannabis, you need to learn how to fact check.
You may be familiar with the term as it relates to confirming claims made by politicians, especially during election season. But fact checking is a vital process that should be practiced regularly when reading the news–especially before sharing information that you assume to be correct.
First, it’s important to evaluate the trustworthiness of the source of information. If it’s posted on a web site that you have never heard of or one that is known to publish inaccurate information, you should look onward to another site carrying the story.
Second, when referencing a scientific study in an article, does the author present a balanced view of the findings? Or is there bias in the narrative? A good place to look is the headline. If it seems inflammatory, the article is likely not a balanced source of information.
As you read the article, look out for references to back up the author’s claims. Are there footnotes with corresponding references on the bottom of the page? Are there embedded links in the article that can take you to original sources like studies, rather than other articles on the same site? If there are no references, you can assume this information is based solely on the author’s opinion or interpretation of the information and not based on fact.
Finally, if you do find references or embedded links to legitimate resources, take the time to read them yourself. Make sure that the information summary and conclusions made by the author are indeed based on fact.
It’s becoming far more difficult to parse out fact from fiction in an increasingly polarized world. However, when it comes to your health, it’s imperative that you practice fact checking every day to ensure that the information you receive and share is completely factual in nature.
Here are some helpful resources where you can learn more about fact checking:
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio