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Fake news and pseudo-science as post-modern mythology: The case of the anti-vaccination movement

Fake news and pseudo-science as post-modern mythology: The case of the anti-vaccination movement

Objective

FAKEOLOGY draws links between pseudoscience, populism and health literacy and focuses on the anti-vaccination movement to provide a key venue wherein mis- and dis-information can be studied. Specifically, the project studies how pseudo-scientific news is diffused within social networks and how it affects human judgement and behaviour. FAKEOLOGY aims at enhancing the efficiency of science communication and at empowering public health policy makers to introduce fake-proof health literacy initiatives. Bridging large-scale social media data with news media (network analysis, content and discourse analysis) and behavioural data (focus groups, expert interviews, lab experiment), the project focuses on how pseudo-science propagates within the digital media ecosystem.
Pseudoscience, and, specifically, the anti-vaccination movement, demonstrate a unique case study that indicates the longevity of the ‘fake news phenomenon’ as anti-vaccine myths started spreading decades ago and still feed the movement’s narrative. The popularity of vaccine hesitancy is growing, in spite of the scientific data that systematically debunk its claims, resulting in the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Within the digital terrain, anti-vaccination groups have even grown in visibility and volume and research demonstrates that Twitter constitutes a popular platform for anti-vaccination supporters.
Using state-of-the-art media analytics technologies developed by the MIT Media Lab and building on science communication developed at the University of Zurich, the project contributes to cutting-edge research with an analytic model that can be fine-tuned to study veracity and falsity in the digital networked paradigm.
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Coordinator

UNIVERSITAT ZURICH

Address

Ramistrasse 71
8006 Zurich

Switzerland

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 278 840,64

Partners (1)

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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 844167

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 June 2019

  • End date

    1 June 2023

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 278 840,64

  • EU contribution

    € 278 840,64

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITAT ZURICH

Switzerland