Professor Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of Humanitas and luminary of International Medicine, one of the most cited researchers in the scientific literature, has talked about vaccines and fake news, in an interview by La Repubblica.
According to the professor, there has been widespread scepticism about science and the scientific method, which has become dangerous for society, which is why the information system – and not only doctors – must also take the field and fight against misinformation and fake news.
Scientifically illiterate society
“There is a refusal towards those who have more competences – explained to La Repubblica Prof. Mantovani -: we live in a country that is widely illiterate, from the scientific point of view. If I say that Messi is a great goalkeeper, 99% of Italians laugh. But we hear scientific rubbish of the same level that instead enjoys credibility at all levels. And not only is there a lack of scientific culture, which would be impossible because not everyone is required to know how scientific skills, but “there is also a problem of lack of confidence in institutions”.
Information and scientific journalism as a vaccine for fake news
This is precisely why “the serious and correct information of a large newspaper plays a fundamental role. A kind of vaccine against fake news”.
“On the web, for example, a resounding fake like Wakefield’s on the correlation between autism and vaccines continues to enjoy credibility. “As Karl Popper would say, we have a duty to communicate in the simplest, most correct and humble way possible. And the existence of a quality press has made the doctors more responsible. We must account for what we do and say, not hide behind incomprehensible language that often denotes unclear ideas. Confronting with quality information is a challenge to be met”.
How the information has changed patients’ awareness
According to the professor, there is a paradox every day: “on the one hand, a greater awareness of medical knowledge, on the other hand, a rejection of the mediation of those who have competence. On a subject on which the scientific community has no doubt, such as vaccines, it should be remembered that the part of the population that has the most reserves is the most educated. And the price of many nonsense has been paid by patients, in terms of suffering and lack of care. Just think of the case of Di Bella or the serum of Bonifacio”.