This fact-checking website answers all your science-related questions
MANILA, Philippines – There's now a fact-checking platform where curious netizens can have thousands of experts answer their burning questions about health and science.
Metafact, which rolled out its prototype in April 2018, quietly launched late in February. It connects over 11,000 verified experts in over 380 fields and 555 institutions to queries from users.
So far, these questions have covered a wide range of topics: from the correlation between depression and dementia to the health hazards (or lack thereof) of gluten to whether or not the stars we see are dead.
For an answer to be verified "affirmative" or "negative," a question needs to be answered by at least 5 experts with the same opinion.
The value of this, said co-founder and climate scientist Ben McNeil, is similar to having more than one doctor's opinion on a diagnosis.
"So the power of science and knowledge is that it isn’t just one person, or one researcher, or one piece of information that is shared," he said in an interview with Rappler. "It’s a community, it’s a collective, so it’s important for us to gather a consensus of what the established knowledge is today."
Aside from McNeil, Metafact was also founded by Ernie Lie and Barry Jiao, who are both computer engineers.
They’re supported by an advisory board, which consists of Ian Frazer, a clinical immunologist and co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine;Fiona Macdonald, CEO of ScienceAlert; Jeff Bleich, former US ambassador to Australia; Ruchika Sahai, an educator, writer, and entrepreneur; and Tamar Wilner, an expert on internet misinformation.
Metafact was built by and advised by scientists, and they're sure too that those who answer questions on their platform are considered experts in their field.
People are free to sign up as experts, but Metafact only accepts scientists, engineers, researchers, and industry experts who have published a recent peer-reviewed article; or medical doctors, surgeons, and general practitioners. McNeil says they also check what institutions they are linked to.
Now that they've launched, Metafact is trying to build their membership platform through Kickstarter. Members get their questions prioritized and will receive edited and curated answers in their field of interest – an advantage, since many experts' answers can get technical.
It's still in its early stages, but McNeil envisions Metafact to be everyone's trusted go-to for when they want to verify science or health claims.
He said: "The whole point [of Metafact] is to try and make people’s lives more evidence-based, and that means if they are more evidence-based, they’ll have a better, healthier life. And not only their own lives, but [also] in their communities and in their countries around the world." – Rappler.com