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Debunking the Myths: “There is an awful lot of misinformation out there”

Science Week

Science Week

Sunday World


While having instant and infinite access to the internet is a wonderful thing, Dr Google shouldn’t be your only source of medical advice.

If you were to ask people what their biggest concerns are about being online, misinformation is certainly going to be included somewhere in the conversation. The amount of information we have, quite literally at our fingertips, is beyond anything that many even thought possible up to the past 20 years or so.

The general rule is that we should always verify what we are told, and make sure it comes from a trustworthy source. It’s as true for adults as it is for their children, and sticking to it can help you avoid some of the misinformation pitfalls that might otherwise cause unnecessary stress and concern.

On the first episode of The Science Week Podcast, host Anne-Marie Tomchak spoke with Dr Zara Molphy and Dr Ronan Daly. Both are based in RCSI Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The Rotunda Hospital from the SFI funded programme Debunking The Myths: The Science Behind our Sexual Health which aims to better equip teenagers with resources and information on sexual health.

Dr Zara Molphy says that teenagers are at risk of encountering false information if they aren’t aware of what steps they can take to protect themselves.

“There is a huge amount of risk associated with teenagers relying on their friends and also relying on Dr Google, because there is an awful lot of misinformation out there,” Zara says.

“You’re flooded with information from websites, forums, social media, videos,” she adds.

Debunking The Myths workshops provide teenagers with tips on how to identify fact vs fiction and point them to reliable sources of information about their sexual health. It also aims to remove stigma associated with topics such as periods, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases to empower teenagers to discuss their sexual health openly and confidently with friends, family and medical professionals.

Significantly, recent research conducted by the ESRI has shown that 17-year-olds are more likely to learn about sexual health from their peers than anyone else. Second-hand information, some of which is likely to have been gained online, poses dangers of misinformation which can lead to serious health consequences.

From hosting Q&A sessions with subject matter experts to explaining how the copper coil actually works and dispelling the biggest myths surrounding sexual health, everything is encompassed by the work of the Debunking The Myths programme. Such efforts are invaluable when it comes to stopping the younger generation from falling victim to unverified information.

Science Week

Science Week 2022 takes place 13-20 November and asks people to explore the infinite possibilities of science. To find out what’s on and to take part in some of the fantastic events taking place all over Ireland, visit the Science Week website here.

For more information about the SFI Discover programme, visit here and follow @DebunkingMyths_ on Instagram and Twitter.