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‘Cranky Uncle’ game offers a vaccination against climate disinformation

When it comes to climate change, deciding what facts you can trust and what’s fake news can be a challenge, particularly in an era of sophisticated misinformation campaigns and complex scientific data.

But an ally is at hand: ‘Cranky Uncle’, a gruff cartoon character and denier of climate change facts who, in a new game, helps you master the art of creating global warming disinformation – and makes you better at identifying it in the real world.

From the use of fake experts to cherry-picking data, “you learn the techniques and then you’re able to spot them yourself,” said John Cook, an assistant professor at Virginia’s George Mason University and one of the creators of the online game.

In one scenario, for instance, Cranky Uncle is falling, unconcerned, from a tall building while a white-coat-clad scientist leans out a window, warning he’ll hit the ground in 12 to 15 seconds.

“Get back to me when you have more certainty!” Cranky Uncle demands.

Such “impossible expectations” for predictions are one way of trying to undermine scientific data, the game notes, alongside techniques such as logical fallacies.

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