Social media as a scientific research tool: Background info for my #scio14 session

ScionlineAt the 2014 ScienceOnlineTogether conference, I will be moderating a session focusing on how to use social media as a scientific research tool (2:30 P.M. on Friday, February 28th in room 3).  The hashtag is #ScioResearch , so be sure to follow along, and I’ll make a Storify afterwards. This post is primarily intended to be a source of background information for participants in my session, though feel free to read, share and ask questions in the comments if you are not planning on participating in my session.

ScienceOnline community members understand the value of social media for collaborating with colleagues and communicating science to the public, but few think of the incredible resource that these tools are for scientific research. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are constantly sharing their experiences and opinions in a format that is public, archived, searchable, and accessible, giving researchers access to this enormous dataset without the expense or logisitical difficulties involved in organizing a large-scale survey or series of focus groups. To use a technical term, for many types of scientific research, social media and “big data” is what is called “a freakin’ gold mine.”

Onion

Below are a few examples of how social media can be used for scientific research.

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Debunking Fukushima: Your Radiation Roundup

Fukushima continues to dominate the ocean news cycle, and while no one is denying that it is a real and ongoing tragedy, the woo is strong in the Fukushima fear-mongering community. Fortunately, the scientists are out in force, debunking the bunk and cutting through the crap to keep you informed. Here is a handy collection of detailed links, from trusted source, tackling some of the most egregious pseudoscience coming out of Fukushima.

Southern Fried Science

Deep Sea News

Skeptoid

If you know of any other good articles debunking Fukushima fear-mongering, please leave them in the comments below.

If you feel the need to accuse any of the authors above of being shills for Big Nuclear, The Government, any Secret Board of Shadowy Figures, Tepco, or any combination thereof, I have an experiment for you: This website is ad free and run entirely by volunteers. Head on over the our “Support Southern Fried Science Page” and make a donation help to keep us running. Maybe, if you donate enough, we’ll start shilling for you (disclaimer: we won’t, but we will continue to produce high quality marine science and conservation articles from a diversity of voices).

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28 fallacies about the Fukushima nuclear disaster’s effect on the US West Coast

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is back in the news, with recent reports of continued leaks. Coming on the heels of these new reports is a viral blog post entitled 28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima. The article is a paranoid, poorly reasoned attempt to link the tragedy of the Fukushima disaster to just about every environmental issue facing the US west coast in the last few months. At its best, it’s an illogical piece of post-modern absurdism. At its worst, its empirically false and intentionally misleading, rife with out-of-context quotes and cherry-picked data. The author had 28 chances to make a single reasonable point, and every single one rang hollow.

Of course it went viral.

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