One very bad thing about scientific papers being behind paywalls is that (competing) pseudoscience isn’t behind paywalls, so it’s easier to find misinformation online than to find facts.

@Petzlux also when was the last time you saw reputable science articles on Facebook ? it's always dodgy fake news sites. People like to read articles that validate their simplistic worldview and unfortunately, the truth is rarely simple

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@Petzlux This is also why it's terrible for news websites to limit the number of articles people can read for free. Propaganda websites don't do that.

@ben @Petzlux
New York Times: two more articles this month :)
Breitbart: would you like another black crime article, sir?

@BestGirlGrace @ben @Petzlux interesting thought… never heard that argument against journalistic paywalls…

But well… they might say, only put documentaries and not such news articles behind a paywall.

Actually, I am not convinced people really switch from NYT to Breitbart or so (because of that). Likely they just live in their bubble already… 🤔

@rugk @BestGirlGrace @ben @Petzlux I just open a new browser or clear my cookies and change my VPN server then read happily away.

@cryptograbear @BestGirlGrace @ben @Petzlux obviously, yes, but not all people can do this/know this/etc.

@rugk @cryptograbear @BestGirlGrace @Petzlux specifically, the kind of people who would go to a propaganda website are very similar to the set of people who don't know this

@ben @Petzlux Thank you SO MUCH. I had this same rant on Twitter DOT comb. News media is run in favor of accruing capital and advancing the interest of capital. Shithead reactionary media like Br**tb*rt know how to make social capital they accrue from chuds fungible into monetary capital. Regular news media sites that report the news (though if we're honest, not always very well) also have to serve capital but their content can't be too severe or it alienates everyone. They choose to pay a subscription.

So now we have a selfish payment system where you buy your own access and then can't do shit with that. The info could be spread better with a pay-it-forward model.

@Petzlux my fav is when the free pseudoscience cites a bunch of paywalled research — all the false legitimacy one can grab, with minimal risk of exposure! 👌🏻

Or rather, most reputable news sources have a paywall of some sort. Fox news does not.

@Petzlux while you absolutely can and should trawl through Google scholar and also every single source Wikipedia cites in case it's a paper someone uploaded a PDF of for free, it's kinda insanely dumb that to find true facts you either need the subscription or to be an angry angry research librarian

@Petzlux So you're advocating for more paywall'ed Journals of Pseudoscience? ;)

Contacting the original authors of those papers and asking for copies generally results in getting a copy :blob_raccoon_coffee:

@Petzlux If you can get the name of the professor or academic who wrote the paper that's behind the paywall, you can often email them and ask for the paper and they'll send it over! this obviously doesn't solve the problem of easy access, but it's something that is done.

@Petzlux well, there's a disturbing thought that hadn't occurred to me…:-(


There's also the way Google ranks things. There are a couple of ways to take advantage of this to get pseudoscience and fringe political sites to float to the top page when someone does a search.

Also anyone can name something without having to prove any legitimacy. I could write a bunch of nonsense crap and self-publish it under a "University of Scientific Research of Austin" along with a nice logo I paid some Graphic Design artist for and it would fool people to believe it

@Petzlux Unfortunately there's also plenty of garbage to be found behind paywalls. A paywall is not a good proxy for authority or legitimacy.

@Petzlux Thank you for this. I've never supported paywalls gating research (especially research funded by public institutions), but this is a viewpoint which I'd never considered before and it is absolutely spot on.

Certainly paywalls prevent spread of facts. However, the open access model ist slowly proliferating. Does that help? Only somewhat because scientific papers are written for scientific readers. Waay less digestible than popsci articles whose authors may or may not have a solid grasp on what they write about.
I know because I work in research, and I still find them a pain to read.

We need more, better science communicators, ist what I think.

And demand for their work.

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