Misinformation

Trust in science and step up to bridge divides

A clear understanding of the factors that erode the trust in official sources is important (Genuine dialogue key to addressing misinformation and bridging divide, Oct 25).

According to Harvard Health Publishing, Covid-19 has become a political issue in the United States. Some in the healthcare sector have made headlines with their controversial views, the misinformation spread through social media is rampant, and some have profited financially, politically or otherwise by deliberately spreading health misinformation and denouncing expert advice.

The man on the street has no expertise to verify the accuracy of the published controversial views or misinformation in the social media. Doing one's own research will not provide more reliable information than studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Relying on "pseudo-experts", though, is not so wise (in fact, it is dangerous).

Those who have been persuaded by conspiracy theories would rather rely on people who will tell them what they want to hear than trust those who are trained in science and devoted to improving public health.

"Listening and respecting one another as fellow human beings", to quote Forum letter writer Darius Lee, is necessary but not sufficient.

Trust in science and medical experts is of paramount importance for constructive dialogue.

After all, the fact that Singapore has hit a vaccination rate of around 85 per cent shows a healthy level of trust in science within the community.

Keeping "vaccine hesitancy" at bay is a social responsibility. It is - as Straits Times associate editor Chua Mui Hoong put it in her commentary - when the moderate middle ground has to step up (Time for the moderate middle to speak up to help bridge divides in society, Oct 22).

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2021, with the headline 'Trust in science and step up to bridge divides'. Subscribe