Selective and deceptive citation in the construction of dueling consensuses.

Selective and deceptive citation in the construction of dueling consensuses.

Publication date: Sep 22, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to study science communication and, in particular, the transmission of consensus. In this study, we show how “science communicators,” writ large to include both mainstream science journalists and practiced conspiracy theorists, transform scientific evidence into two dueling consensuses using the effectiveness of masks as a case study. We do this by compiling one of the largest, hand-coded citation datasets of cross-medium science communication, derived from 5 million Twitter posts of people discussing masks. We find that science communicators selectively uplift certain published works while denigrating others to create bodies of evidence that support and oppose masks, respectively. Anti-mask communicators in particular often use selective and deceptive quotation of scientific work and criticize opposing science more than pro-mask communicators. Our findings have implications for scientists, science communicators, and scientific publishers, whose systems of sharing (and correcting) knowledge are highly vulnerable to what we term adversarial science communication.

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Concepts Keywords
Covid Citation
Pandemic Communication
Scientists Communicators
Twitter Consensuses
Uplift Construction


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO effectiveness
pathway REACTOME Translation
drug DRUGBANK Nonoxynol-9
disease IDO process
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease VO effective
disease VO USA
disease MESH infection
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH AIDS
disease IDO host
disease MESH influenza
disease VO Viruses
disease MESH viral infections
disease VO ineffective
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Medical air
disease VO Optaflu
disease MESH respiratory infections
drug DRUGBANK Oxygen
disease VO vaccination
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease VO time
disease IDO production
disease IDO object
disease VO document
drug DRUGBANK Alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor
drug DRUGBANK Trihexyphenidyl
disease IDO intervention
disease IDO algorithm
disease MESH uncertainty
drug DRUGBANK Aspartame
disease VO vaccine
drug DRUGBANK Guanosine
drug DRUGBANK Isoxaflutole
drug DRUGBANK Methylergometrine
disease IDO country
disease MESH common cold
disease MESH virus shedding
disease MESH infectious diseases

Original Article

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