Misinformation is an urgent societal concern that affects us all. Science and health misinformation exposes us to harms both personal and collective. On an individual level, it can leave us vulnerable to baseless fears, harm from preventable diseases, and exploitation by those who promote misinformation for profit or power. On a collective level, it erodes trust, fosters hate, undermines social cohesion, and diminishes our capacity for collective action. Misinformation damages social cohesion and collective action by undermining democratic discourse and distorting our understanding of the potential consequences of both our personal choices and policy options.
Addressing misinformation is a complex, multidimensional, and inevitably controversial undertaking because it raises fundamental questions about how we communicate, build relationships, and understand the world, as well as questions about our personal values and identity. Given the importance of this issue, it is imperative that we invest in understanding the sources and consequences of misinformation, and the strategies being used to combat it and reduce its harmful impacts.