Andrew Revkin posted an interesting article a few weeks back:
Lately, I’ve come to frame the challenge as a question: Can we foster an online (and real-life) culture in which veracity is cool? You’ll see more on this here in the coming months.
As social primates, we are instinctively motivated to seek higher status in our given troop hierarchies. The word cool is sometimes used as a synonym for impressive. Impressive denotes a measure of status. Coolness is any marketer's primary weapon. I like Andy's idea of making veracity cool, but I'm skeptical it could ever take hold. How would car marketers ever convince us to buy their cars? Although, certainly, he's on the right track in that, if you want to change behavior, like getting people to drive electric cars (or Hummers), convincing them it's cool to drive one will work wonders.
What I think we need is to teach critical thinking skills in our schools as part of every math and science course, from grade school through college, and test for competency like we do for math and science.
His post led me to Climate Feedback, a website designed to fact check climate change articles. I was struck by how similar the format was to the Disqus comment software where you can use a little hypertext markup language to highlight quotes from an article and then discuss it in detail with links to sources, photos, graphs etc. They also made use of a veracity score which I have half-seriously used a few times myself, here and here.
The first question that came to mind was why the scientists didn't simply post in the comment field under the article? I suggested as much in a comment under Andy's article and interestingly enough, at least to me, my comment never made it past the Dot Earth moderator. So, maybe that was the answer to my question.