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What to do when your Facebook friend shares a “cure” for the coronavirus



Zelda Caldwell - published on 04/29/20

Learn how to spot “bad science” when you see it with this free online course from Yale University.

Our fervent desire for an end to coronavirus pandemic has many of us grasping at straws, and latching onto potential miracles cures, with little consideration of any scientific rationale for doing so.

We’ve all seen social media posts promoting malaria drugs, nicotine patches, hot and humid weather, and even household bleach as the silver bullet to put a stop to the pandemic. Nobody seems immune, as everyone from heads of state to your Aunt Marge is passing along the latest rumored panacea.

Now Yale University is offering a free online course, ““Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend Is Wrong,” to help you determine what is bad science and what is not.Dr. F. Perry Wilson, a Yale physician and clinical researcher has designed the course, to “give you the tools necessary to go beyond news articles and interpret the medical research for yourself.”

“News articles promoting bad science are shared via social media every day. These articles can go on to harm, frighten, or give false hope to vulnerable members of our communities. The best way to combat the dissemination of bad science is to educate yourself and call it out when you see it,” reads a press release from the Yale Digital Education Team.

Throughanecdotes, skits, animations and real-world examples, the course promises to show you how to interpret a scientific research paper.

“Stick with it and by course’s end you’ll understand, in a way you never have before, how medical research works, what research is trustworthy and of course, when your Facebook friend is wrong,” says the Yale Digital Education Team.

Visit the Coursera website to enroll for free.

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