Health remedy fallacies strike social media: what is the role of development education?
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The advent of social media has resulted in unequalled excitement but also risks, especially when postings are health-related and not supported by scientific evidence. Unfortunately, the majority of social media users tend to embrace and utilise every health remedy (alternative medicines) posted on social media without questioning their authenticity or even the authors’ credibility, since these ‘information creators’ never display their addresses of even their identities, but the users proceed to ‘ingest’ these remedies. The paper further discusses why social media users become receptive and passive to unsubstantiated information, thereby threatening their health. The authors adopted ‘The Uses and Gratifications Theory’ and ‘The Theory of Social Media Interaction’ to explain the increased fallacies appearing on social media, while the masses continue to be duped. Through an interactive approach, most users, although educated, were found to get excited the first time they landed on ‘useful information’ that hinders most of them from applying logic and critical thinking skills, which presumably, ‘development education’ should ably address at every level of education. Secondly, the power and popular appeal of social media, which quickly convinces and sways users, has affected their questioning stance. The paper thus concludes that people respond differently when it comes to health matters and this impacts their ability to critically analyse health related information. Further, medical professionals do not participate in fallacious arguments on social media is that (1) they make assumptions that the users are logical enough, and will only use such remedies after consulting with physicians and perhaps doing some research, and (2), their medical professional ethics do not allow them to publicly discuss unfounded claims related to medicine.