The Skeptical Science web site works to debunk the critics of global warming, and works hard to do so. A new handbook put out by the site, The Debunking Handbook, is a veritable how-to guide to the practice of shooting down any misinformation, whether that’s a global science issue or your organisation’s belief that “password123” is a secure password.
In other words, you can glean some really helpful lessons from The Debunking Handbook that you can apply far beyond the endless back-and-forth of global warming discussion. Whatever misinformation you want to dispel — in an email, in a blog post, in a meeting — you need to, for example, avoid the Familiarity Backfire Effect, where mentioning the misinformation specifically only lends to people becoming more familiar with that myth.
Not mentioning the myth is sometimes not a practical option. In this case, the emphasis of the debunking should be on the facts. The often-seen technique of headlining your debunking with the myth in big, bold letters is the last thing you want to do. Instead, communicate your core fact in the headline. Your debunking should begin with emphasis on the facts, not the myth. Your goal is to increase people’s familiarity with the facts.
The Debunking Handbook is a free, short PDF from Skeptical Science that’s a helpful weapon in any war against impractical myths.
The Debunking Handbook [Skeptical Science – PDF link]