Scientific methods: Teach children to spot fake facts

I agree that we should train students how to use the scientific method in their everyday lives (Nature 543, 149; 2017 and Nature 543, 150; 2017), but this needs to start much earlier than in college or graduate school. Children in middle school (11–14 years old in the United States) are comparatively more susceptible to fake facts than are university students, and there are many millions more of them.

At California State University, our programmes for training thousands of 11-year-olds in the use of scientific methods were developed in the 1990s with Nobel laureate Francis Crick and have won a US Presidential Award for excellence in science mentoring. The students learn through properly executed, hands-on research.

Similar programmes nationwide would equip citizens to evaluate what goes on every day in a society where the almighty dollar all too often clouds the truth.

Author information


  1. Steven B. Oppenheimer California State University, Northridge, California, USA.

    • Steven B. Oppenheimer


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Correspondence to Steven B. Oppenheimer.