Commentary

Public health measures against COVID-19 depend on trust in medical science that is being eroded by an "infodemic," argues Timothy Caulfield.

20
March
2020

What is driving the novel coronavirus infodemic? Fear, uncertainty and opportunistic marketing are all playing a role. But it is also a legacy of our growing distrust of science, experts and health-care institutions. Not only is this the era of misinformation, it is also the era of distrust.

A recent study found that after years of relative stability, 2019 witnessed a “significant drop in Canadians’ trust in major institutions, organizations, leaders and many sources of information.” This data is consistent with research done at the international level. The 2020 edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer concluded that the “global trust crisis is deepening,” making it more “difficult to collaborate and take collective action to solve large, pressing problems.”

There is also growing doubt about the news media, particularly what is cir...

Headlines

26
March
2020
| 16:51 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Five key issues facing Canada’s agri-food industry

Recent events show there's no entitlement to the continued prosperity of our agri-food value chain, which should spur Canadian agri-food to think differently about new and old problems in the sector.

“Agriculture is a legacy industry.” “We need to feed nine billion people by 2050.” “Food security isn’t a production issue, it is a distribution problem.” “We need to invest in the
23
March
2020
| 19:00 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || In the middle of an emergency response, pause and reflect

Taking time to think about our values, priorities and goals is an essential step in the emergency response process, says U of A dean of students.

Emergency response starts with values, priorities and goals. Our values, on which we try to reflect when we’re not in the middle of an emergency response, emphasize the importance of life and of the
12
March
2020
| 21:12 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Misinformation, alternative medicine and the coronavirus

Alternative medicine practitioners are leveraging fear of COVID-19 to sell unproven products and procedures, says U of A health policy expert Timothy Caulfield.

Nothing highlights the absurdity and potential harm of alternative medicine like a global public health crisis. There has been an incredible amount of misinformation about the coronavirus. Indeed,
12
March
2020
| 13:05 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Canadians with disabilities face an uncertain financial future

Social service cuts will worsen already significant income inequality for people living with disabilities, argue sociologists.

Wealth inequality in Canada continues to grow. It’s particularly staggering for people with disabilities because they have little to no money to put aside for a rainy day. Right now, individuals
14
February
2020
| 14:05 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Wildfires threaten North American water supplies

Flash floods and water contamination after massive wildfires aren't just a problem in Australia, researchers find.

As rain offers a welcome relief to fire-scorched Australia, concerns over flash floods and freshwater contamination cast a shadow on the joy. Already, massive fish kills have been reported due to
12
February
2020
| 01:06 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Oscar snub of 'Little Women' shows the limits of Hollywood feminism

Greta Gerwig's omission from best director category reinforces her film’s assertion that creative women are not celebrated as much as men, argue authors.

The Oscars have long represented a way for the American film industry to celebrate and market its achievements. Even when there are surprising wins, like this year’s top awards sweep by South
31
January
2020
| 14:05 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Plants safely store toxic mercury. Bushfires and climate change bring it back into our environment

Mercury levels in the environment rise sharply during periods of rapid global warming, scientists find.

Climate change and bushfires may exacerbate recent mercury pollution and increase exposure to the poisonous neurotoxin, according to our study published in the Journal of Paleolimnology. Mercury
30
January
2020
| 14:05 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || How hate groups misuse medieval symbolism to promote white supremacy

Notions of ethnic and cultural "purity" in the Middle Ages are historically inaccurate and outdated, argues English professor.

The Middle Ages are having a moment, both for good and for ill. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, the History Channel’s Vikings, BBC’s series Robin Hood and Merlin all attest to the popularity of
28
January
2020
| 20:29 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || The sports psychology behind the Oilers' recent success

The team is showing signs of mental toughness in the new year, but defensive intensity needs improvement, says educational psychologist.

What is mental toughness? Is it dogged determination? Razor-sharp focus? Supreme confidence? Or is it being cool, calm and collected under fire? Turns out, it’s all these things—and it provides a
14
January
2020
| 14:00 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || Gwyneth Paltrow’s new Goop Lab is an infomercial for her pseudoscience business

Upcoming Netflix series based on celebrity's science-free brand represents conflict of interest, argues Timothy Caulfield.

Last week, Netflix dropped the trailer for Gwyneth Paltrow’s new show The Goop Lab. It is a six-episode docuseries launching on Jan. 24 that, according to the trailers, focuses on approaches to
08
January
2020
| 14:05 America/Tegucigalpa

COMMENTARY || To win the fight against health and wellness bunk, we must leave the post-truth era in the past

Health-trend debunker Timothy Caulfield offers a four-point prescription to help science and critical thinking “rise above the noise of nonsense.”

While pseudoscience and quackery have been around a long time, the 2010s were truly the decade of bunk. The reach and influence of misinformation has intensified to the point that it feels near