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Fighting misinformation in seismology: Expert opinion on earthquake facts vs. fiction

Dryhurst, Sarah; Mulder, Femke; Dallo, Irina; Kerr, John RR; McBride, Sara KK; Fallou, Laure; Becker, Julia SS; (2022) Fighting misinformation in seismology: Expert opinion on earthquake facts vs. fiction. Frontiers in Earth Science , 10 , Article 937055. 10.3389/feart.2022.937055. Green open access

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Abstract

Misinformation carries the potential for immense damage to public understanding of science and for evidence-based decision making at an individual and policy level. Our research explores the following questions within seismology: which claims can be considered misinformation, which are supported by a consensus, and which are still under scientific debate? Consensus and debate are important to quantify, because where levels of scientific consensus on an issue are high, communication of this fact may itself serve as a useful tool in combating misinformation. This is a challenge for earthquake science, where certain theories and facts in seismology are still being established. The present study collates a list of common public statements about earthquakes and provides–to the best of our knowledge–the first elicitation of the opinions of 164 earth scientists on the degree of verity of these statements. The results provide important insights for the state of knowledge in the field, helping identify those areas where consensus messaging may aid in the fight against earthquake related misinformation and areas where there is currently lack of consensus opinion. We highlight the necessity of using clear, accessible, jargon-free statements with specified parameters and precise wording when communicating with the public about earthquakes, as well as of transparency about the uncertainties around some issues in seismology.

Type: Article
Title: Fighting misinformation in seismology: Expert opinion on earthquake facts vs. fiction
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/feart.2022.937055
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2022.937055
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 Dryhurst, Mulder, Dallo, Kerr, McBride, Fallou and Becker. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Physical Sciences, Geosciences, Multidisciplinary, Geology, misinformation, Earth science, seismology, earthquakes, risk communication, scientific consensus, expert elicitation, crisis communication, SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS, CLIMATE-CHANGE, COMMUNICATION, UNCERTAINTY, RISK
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10164907
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