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"Scientific Consensus" Counters False Beliefs on GM Foods, Study

October 6, 2021

A group of experts from Radboud University in The Netherlands documented that informing people of a scientific consensus opposing their false beliefs, especially about genetically modified (GM) foods, can help to correct those beliefs. The strategy can be beneficial in campaigns to counter misinformation about the benefits of GM foods.

The researchers were determined to investigate if helping people understand and identify scientific consensus at first could help change their beliefs and lead them to better scientific understanding. They used an online crowdsourcing platform to select 1,500 participants from the United States who believed that GM food is worse for a person's health than non-GM food. The participants were then presented with an infographic about the value of scientific consensus and how to identify it. Afterward, they were asked to read a new article about a scientific consensus that contradicted their beliefs.

Through data analyses, the researchers found strong evidence that the two-step communication strategy was successful in correcting misinterpretations. Their research demonstrated that empowering people to understand and identify scientific consensus can help to better correct a false belief. They concluded that communicating scientific consensus, paired with science communication campaigns focused on boosting understanding and identification of scientific consensus, is an effective beginning for strategies to counteract scientific misinformation.

Learn more from Psychological Science.

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