Retraction Watch probably has enough to do dealing with the sedater pace of scientific publications without delving into the high speed, social media festooned, world of fake news. Recent electoral events have not only increased the interest in this topic but also introduced agnotology to a wider audience. Agnotology is the study of ignorance or lack of knowledge. A wider definition being the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly through the dissemination of inaccurate or misleading information. A topic whose time has come?
As Jonathan Swift so aptly wrote back in 1710: “Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believed only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”
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