Menarini promotes critical thinking to counter fake news

The issue of health-related fake news is becoming increasingly relevant. The abundance of information we are exposed to on a daily basis puts us in a position to always be up-to-date; however, we also run the risk of being misinformed.

The Menarini Group has always been committed to spreading scientific knowledge on the most relevant health topics, and is deeply invested in ensuring that good, reliable information is available to everyone.

For this reason, the Group has launched a collaboration with the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani – Editori to create an initiative that addresses this issue. The project, called “Salute, fake news e verosimiglianze: allenaMENTI per non perdere la bussola” (“Health, fake news and plausibility: training minds to stay on track”) is aimed at high schools that are participating in the “Il Quotidiano in Classe” program, promoted by the Osservatorio.

According to a study conducted by Censis (Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali) in collaboration with Assosalute, 15 million Italians search the web for information about minor ailments, from headaches to colds – and unfortunately, 8.8 million of them fell victim to fake news in 2022. More specifically, 3.5 million parents came across incorrect medical information.

The survey also revealed that the internet is the primary source of scientific information for one in three Italians and the third most popular source of information overall (28.4 %) after general practitioners (53.5 %) and pharmacists (32.2 %). 17% of Italians consult generic health websites, 6% institutional websites, and 2.4% social media.

Furthermore, the study revealed that 36.9% of millennials (the generation born up to 1995, which makes up the majority of the Italian student population) search the web to find information on how to treat minor ailments.

As a result of this trend, it is clear that the internet contains an array of content, ranging from factual to misleading, that can be subjected to editorial tactics known as “clickbait.” These tactics have the potential to weaken the credibility of messages presented online.

In order to protect citizens from so-called “hoaxes” and help them become more mature in their consumption of information, it is increasingly necessary to teach how to verify their sources in an effective way. When it comes to health-related topics, it is crucial to be able to identify the quality of messages disseminated on the web, because it has a significant impact on approaches and behaviors related to health.

This necessity becomes even more critical when it comes to young students, who will become the informed citizens of the future.

The goal behind the educational program organized by the Menarini Group and the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani – Editori is to provide students with the tools to distinguish false and true information, help them develop critical thinking skills, and encourage a constant verification of the reliability of sources.

During the 2021/2022 school year, the initiative was brought to 500 classes in 140 schools across Italy, involving approximately 13,000 students

The final event was held in Florence, where five classes from different parts of Italy presented the results of their work and participated in brief debates on current topics, such as the impact of smart working on workers’ health, the Mediterranean diet, fast fashion, the legalization of light drugs, and euthanasia.

We supported the Osservatorio project,” said Lucia Aleotti, shareholder and member of the Menarini board, who attended the final event, “to foster free minds that are always interested in getting to the truth. The most beautiful thing a country can have is people who choose.