If you have an Internet connection, a bit of time and maybe a few bucks to spare, you can help combat quackery, pseudoscience and misinformation. Here are a few ways to get started.
1. Like and share
One of the simplest ways you can get involved is to integrate some science activism into your social media time. Interacting with good-quality content provides valuable feedback and helps expose your friends and family to new information. Shares and reposts are most powerful, but a simple “like” will also help and will always be appreciated by the recipient.
2. Join some groups
If you struggle to find content or want to meet like-minded people, groups are a good way to level-up your social activism. Facebook and LinkedIn have explicit group features, but Twitter has lists, hashtags and group chats that you can use to get similar results.
3. Let brands know how you feel
Brands live and die by their customer approval. That has already been exploited by people like Food Babe to pressure companies into making decisions based on fear rather than evidence.
So it’s important we make our own voices heard. If a company makes a bad decision we need to let them know how we feel about it and why. Conversely we need to let pro-science companies know we appreciate them.
The easiest way to do this is on social media, but a lot of brands also have other avenues such as customer service phone lines or website contact forms.
4. Lobby your politicians
Like it or not, science is a political issue. The areas where science is currently strongly politicised are arguably some of the widest-reaching and most important: issues like climate change or vaccination policies, for example.
You can let your local representative know your thoughts – they work for you, after all. Sometimes there will be consultations or petitions you can weigh in on too.
5. Swing a few bucks
Not everyone can afford to spare cash, and that’s fine. You can do plenty without spending anything. But if you are lucky enough to have some disposable income there are a bunch of ways you can use it to help advance science.
You can join advocacy groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the British Campaign for Science and Engineering, for example.
There are plenty of great science books available – these often make great presents too which is handy with the festive season coming up.
There are a lot of documentaries out there, many with questionable scientific basis but you may wish to support pro-science projects like Food Evolution or Science Moms. There are also loads of great science series available which you can stream or buy on DVD – high sales will encourage production companies to make more.
Also many content creators will have ways you can support them via sites like Patreon or Kickstarter, directly via PayPal or perhaps a shop where you can buy things like t-shirts or stickers.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Once you find your groove I’m sure you’ll think of all sorts of other things you can do. The vital thing is to make yourself heard.
Adapted from my post “Three simple ways you can get started in science activism right now“. Header image of the London March For Science by Stephen Curry.
This article was written as part of my November writing challenge, a NaNoWriMo-inspired attempt to write one short, snappy article a day in November. Please excuse brevity, but let me know if I’ve missed anything important!