How do I fight fake news?

Uncertainty and Misinformation

A: Use the 3D’s to slay disinformation: Detect; document; and debunk. “Sandwich” the myth between buns of truth.

“Everywhere you see the spread of germs for the last few thousand years, you see right behind it the spread of lies.” Oh boy how these wise words from medical sociologist Dr. Nicholas Christakis resonate. We Nerdy Girls are committed to the cause of stopping the viral spread of lies (and infections). Moreover, we are also committed to sharing out pages from our “infodemiology” playbook to empower others to join in the fight. Today we’re happy to showcase the 3 D’s of disinformation framework developed by information scholar Dr. Joan Donovan.

Dr. Donovan’s 3D’s of Disinformation:


If something sounds fishy, it probably is. To paraphrase the late astronomer Carl Sagan: “Demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.”


Document which emotion the misinformation seeks to manipulate. Does it exploit our collective fear? Anger? Post-election partisan rawness? Honoring the underlying emotion while simultaneously snuffing out the falsehood is key to growing trust. Establishing and leading with empathy is the name of the game: The Golden Rule applies. (See the Guardian article referenced below for more great tips on this topic.)


It’s tough to disrupt a myth once it’s been repeated. Best practice: Tell a “truth sandwich” (aka the fact-fallacy-fact method). Here’s a great example from Dr. Donovan: “Vaccines don’t cause autism. While the myth persists that vaccines cause this condition, doctors across the globe have proven that vaccines do not cause autism and benefit the whole of society.”

We conclude with a thank you. Thank you to our community members for joining with us to fight the infodemic. Thank you for continuing to stand on the side of truth. Thank you for being beacons of kindness, curiosity, and scientific skepticism in your own local places and online spaces. The road’s been long and will be bumpy for a bit more, but there’s great hope ahead. 💉

Your Nerdy Girls


Nicholas Christakis on pandemics and infodemics

Dr. Joan Donovan’s Three D’s of Disinformation

Lindsey’s Laws of Infodemiology – earlier DP post (including Carl Sagan quote!)

Guardian article describing empathy as effective conspiracy-fighting weapon

Truth sandwich – earlier DP post

Link to original FB post