The term “fake news” has been flying around a lot lately. In the age of YouTube, Photoshop, and social media, it can be hard to know what to trust. After all, sensationalism pays, right? I find myself sucked into it sometimes too. All it takes is seeing the headline “Stan Lee Launches Superhero Themed Taco Franchise” for me to quickly hit Share Now without even reading the article.
This seems to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, we are able to share information and connect with others faster than any other time in history. We are able to experience cultures, ideas, and resources that used to be only accessible after spending hours with your nose in a dusty encyclopedia. On the other hand, there are now a lot of people out there looking to make a quick buck or get their five minutes of viral fame by stretching poetic license to get the most clicks.
Unfortunately, this tactic is used in the psoriatic community as well. Most of us are desperate to know the latest treatments or research that is close to a cure. Obviously, since you are reading this article, you have a sense of good writing, but here are some tips on how to spot a trusty article versus “flake” news.
Take the bait
Even if you suspect it is click-bait, give them the click and read the actual article. A headline is nothing more than an attention grabber. It should go without saying, but you can’t truly know what the article is talking about unless you read it.
Make sure they have street cred
Who is publishing this article? Is it on a website called www.curepsoriasisnow.com? If so, I would give it a big eye roll and move on with your day. It’s important to get to know the publisher to see if there are any glaring biases. It is generally a safe bet that if a website ends in .edu or .org it is higher up on the reputation scale for health-related publications. Personal blogs, sites that are selling products, and radical advocacy groups may have a hidden agenda that is fueling the story.
Read the reference section
The most boring part of the article or paper is your greatest friend. Down near the bottom of any article that is referring to studies or making sweeping factual statements there should be a section citing the sources for each claim made in the writing. If there are no citations, you may want to take a pause and critically think about what you just read.
Take it further
Once you find the references, go and check them out yourself. You can search Pubmed.gov or Google Scholar to try and find the full articles. Sometimes these are only available for purchase, but often times reading the abstract can give you the credible information you are looking for. Always check to make sure information hasn’t been taken out of context. Another thing to look at is the study details. If an article says “new study shows that 90% of psoriasis suffers died after taking a biologic,” but the study size was only 3 people, that isn’t an accurate representation of the psoriatic community (not to mention that it would mean 2.7 people died—what??)
There is enough negativity and lies thrown in line of vision daily. Do what you can to keep this from reaching others. My mother in law always repeats the old adage:
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
- At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”
- At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
- At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
I think this can help us all to be responsible sharers. Happy reading!
Where on your body does psoriasis bother you the most?