How Academic Medicine Can Amplify Truth Amid the Noise of Misinformation, Inaccuracies, and Lies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inaccurate statements and lies from public figures and political and government leaders have the power to exacerbate dangerous upheavals in our political, health care, and social environments. The widespread misinformation, inaccuracies, and lies about the COVID-19 pandemic (about the origin of the virus, the severity of illness, vaccination, and "cures," to name a few) illustrate the potentially disastrous consequences of false information. Academic medicine must recognize the dangers of such lies and inaccuracies, particularly those related to health, and must understand their sources in traditional and social media and how and why many in the public accept them. Academic health professionals have a unique responsibility to promote and defend the truth in medicine and science, help the public to understand the sources of inaccurate scientific information, and find ways to debunk falsehoods spread by politicians and media outlets. Inaccurate information and lies have threatened the health of the population, the function of health systems, and the training of the future health workforce. They must be combatted by truth telling through scholarly work, clinical activities, and educating health professions trainees at all levels. Academic medicine's institutions should also consider joining the communities they serve and their medical specialty organizations to engage in political advocacy whenever possible. Health professions journals have an important role in highlighting and clarifying important topics and sustaining conversations on them within the academic medicine community. Across all its missions and activities, academic medicine must do its best to combat today's poisonous misinformation, inaccuracies, and lies, and to enter the larger social and political struggles that will determine the health of society and the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1738-1741
Number of pages4
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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