The Best (and Worst) Places to Find Reputable Health Information

·4 min read
Photo credit: MICHAEL C. BYERS
Photo credit: MICHAEL C. BYERS
Photo credit: MICHAEL C. BYERS
Photo credit: MICHAEL C. BYERS

Science misinformation is now being spewed and shared at record rates. This is the third story in our 4-part Junk Science series, which gets to the root of why it's happening and what you can do about it. To go deeper, check out: Part 1: The Golden Age of Junk Science Is Killing Us; Part 2: 9 Ways to Know if Health Info Is Actually Junk Science; and Part 4: What You Can Say to Pull Someone Out of a Junk Science Rabbit Hole.

Science is up against a lot. Inaccurate information is extremely contagious on social media: There’s a 70 percent greater likelihood that misinformation will be retweeted than that true stories will. And the truth just can’t keep up.

While some social media platforms have taken to labeling some content misleading or false, it’s often too little too late. For instance, one election fraud video on Instagram got 500,000 views before it was flagged as potentially misleading. But only 20,700 people saw the warning label after the post was flagged.

One way to get a feel for what’s reliable information and what’s probably not is to identify which sources you can trust. You’ll find a starter list of some favorite good sources below.

You’ll also want to check the subtext of what a source is saying. Are they sowing doubt in what you thought was reality? Are they, you know, “Just asking questions”? Do they stand to gain financially from what they’re posting (this supplement protects against Covid and what do you know, I sell it right here…).

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Scientific facts are rarely going to be as clicky as untruths. So remember that if something “totally makes you click,” then you’re going to want to take another second to put it through the BS detector before believing it or sharing it. (Shore up your own BS detector with these 9 Ways to Spot Junk Science). To make it a little easier to get to accurate info, take a look at today’s top misinformation superspreaders and their tactics, and then check out where to get reliable information, below.

Misinformation Superspreader Hall of Shame

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The classic-rock DJ of anti-vax bullshit. He can be relied upon to keep playing the same science-free, deeply misleading songs again and again and again. (Reality: No, vaccines do not cause autism!) RFK Jr. can doubtmonger with the best of them. Cherry-picking personified.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Tucker Carlson

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

A JAQing-off (Just Asking Questions) expert extraordinaire. The Tuckster can inject partisan-spun doubt into any topic—science, sense, and human decency be damned. “Clean water? Really? A liberal conspiracy to get into your house? I’m just asking . . . .”

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Gwyneth Paltrow

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

A wellness woo wizard who can magically transform a public-health crisis into an opportunity for testimonial-fueled profit. Think you might have long Covid? Try a plant-based diet, intuitive fasting, and Goop’s detoxifying supplements. (Read: Don’t.)

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Joe Rogan

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Photo credit: Getty Images

The dude is just pragmatic, open-minded, and inquisitive. Right? So giving a platform to unproven therapies, fad diets, and illogical and potentially harmful health-policy positions isn’t really misinformation—it’s just a couple of bros brainstorming!

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Joseph Mercola, D.O.

Photo credit: Mercola
Photo credit: Mercola

Yep, he has the credentials of a health-care professional. But that hasn’t stopped him from fearmongering, using vague and meaningless terminology and leaning heavily on testimonials to build a for-profit pseudoscience empire.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Donald Trump

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Photo credit: Getty Images

A Cornell University study found that Trump was mentioned alongside 37.9 percent of all the Covid misinformation in traditional and online media coverage from January through May 2020.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Judy Mikovits, Ph.D.

Photo credit: AP
Photo credit: AP

A conspiracy theorist adept at making absurd ideas sound like credible (but silenced by the Man) science. Exhibit A: the “documentary” Plandemic. Mikovits deploys misinfo tools such as casting doubt on public-health officials and fearmongering about alleged vaccine ineffectiveness.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Where to go for reliable info (beyond Men’s Health, of course)

Despite some less-than-ideal messaging (um, masks), official agencies like the CDC remain important sources of health information. But you need not only rely on boring government or university websites (although it isgood to rely on them). There are also many other terrific, science-informed voices aiming to clarify what’s good science and what’s noise. A few favorites:

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Snopes

The oldest and largest fact-checking site.

Factcheck.org

A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center that checks the accuracy of statements by political figures.

Statnews

A health news site with trusted investigations; one of the first to look into Covid.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

@science.sam; Samantha Yammine, Ph.D.

This neuroscientist blends expert communication skills with broad biosciences knowledge.

@jessicamalatyrivera; Jessica Malaty Rivera

Expect jargon-free explanations of Covid science from this epidemiologist.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

@AlexDainis; Alex Dainis, Ph.D.

This geneticist’s TikToks break down the facts on hot topics like PCR testing and gene editing.

@doctor.darien; Darien Sutton, M.D.

Get clarity on facts about chest pain, Covid, and more from this emergency medicine doc.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

@DrJenGunter; Jen Gunter, M.D.

A bold debunker unafraid of controversial topics.

@SabiVM Sabina Vohra-Miller, M.Sc.

This clinical pharmacologist aims to make data make sense.

@EricTopol; Eric Topol, M.D.

A top doc putting medical research into perspective.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

This Week in Science; @TWIScience

Hosted by Kirsten “Kiki” Sanford, Ph.D., a neurophysiologist who makes complex topics like CAR T-cell treatments engaging.

Science Vs @ScienceVs

A team of leading journalists talks to scientists to separate fact from fad.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

@ScienceUpFirst #ScienceUpFirst

This social-media movement, cofounded by Canadian senator Stan Kutcher, M.D., and me, brings together diverse, science-informed voices to counter misinformation on social media.

To find out more about how Junk Science is affecting us, check out:

This story originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Men's Health.

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