Don’t trust YouTube when it comes to science

Misleading scientific information is not a peripheral phenomenon on YouTube. The latest observation to support this view comes from Joachim Allgaier, research associate at the Chair for Technology and Society of the RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
Allgaier has analyzed 200 YouTube videos about climate and climate modification topics. His result: »The majority of the videos in the sample (107 videos) supports worldviews that are opposing scientific consensus: 16 videos deny anthropogenic climate change and 91 videos in the sample propagate straightforward conspiracy theories about climate engineering and climate change.«
Allgaier’s study, which was published in Frontiers in Communication on July 25, 2019, also found that videos which support the scientific mainstream view are watched about as often at those which opposed the mainstream – both groups of videos account for almost 17 million views.
The situation isn’t any better when it comes to health topics. At the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Meeting in Liverpool, Great Britain, in July 2019, Dr. Simon Müller of the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, reported on a sample of the 100 most-viewed eczema-related videos on YouTube.
He and his colleagues came to the conclusion that 46 per cent of them are misleading. 36 per cent are even disseminating potentially dangerous information to eczema patients. Many of the videos stem from promotors of complementary and alternative treatments, and many of them discredit secured medical knowledge.
While, in general, the educational value of online video-sharing is undeniable, there is still no cure against YouTube’s profit-oriented, but not value-oriented dissemination of content. Currently, the only way for scientists and scientific institutions to hold against is to publish their own view. (tk)
Read more:
Joachim Allgaier: Science and Environmental Communication on YouTube: Strategically Distorted Communications in Online Videos on Climate Change and Climate Engineering. Frontiers in Communication, July 25, 2019
Joachim Allgaier: Science and Medicine on YouTube. In: Hunsinger J., Klastrup L., Allen M. (eds) Second International Handbook of Internet Research, Springer Nature B.V., 2019
Press release of the British Association of Dermatologists: 36 per cent of top YouTube videos on eczema are potentially harmful, July 3, 2019 with Joachim Allgaier: Die Klimaleugner sind gut organisiert, August 5, 2019

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