Peter du Toit

Aug 193 min read

I don’t know who to believe anymore!

Raise your hand if you have been feeling this way of late!

Any person that has a smartphone with a messaging app on it (eg. WhatsApp Telegram, iMessage etc.) or has a social media account is flooded with information for all sides! It can be truly overwhelming!

This often leads to exasperation and thoughts like “Who do I believe! There are all these conflicting ideas!”

But what information you believe or trust, especially during a crisis, like the one we are experiencing at present, can have far reaching and often devastating consequences for you and the people you care about.

So what information can you trust? Here is a helpful way to navigate information overload especially as it relates to COVID, vaccines etc.

Use a concept known as “scientific consensus” to guide your thinking.

Here is a brief description of what this is:

“Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. (Eg. Virology & Vaccinology) Consensus generally implies agreement of the supermajority, though not necessarily unanimity. Consensus is achieved through scholarly communication at conferences, the publication process, replication of reproducible results by others, scholarly debate, and peer review.” (Source: Wikipedia )


Scientific knowledge is the knowledge currently accepted by the scientific community and is a theoretical explanation of the real world. In deciding what is acceptable science, the scientific community undertake a process of PUBLIC PEER REVIEW where science experts reach a CONSENSUS about what is the acceptable science. This public process is often referred to as public science as it has undergone a validation process and contributes to the accepted scientific knowledge. The work of professional scientists includes this process of consensus-making peer review.

It is this public consensus science that should guide your thinking.

Let’s use an example. Is the earth round or flat? Well the scientific consensus is that it is a sphere. However, there are those that disagree with this consensus and insist the earth is flat! Not only that, they produce arguments to support their case!

How do you decide who to believe?

You look at this and say “well there are 100 scientists who through their work have commented on this topic. What is the consensus these 100 have reached on the topic following a peer review process?” Well the majority (let’s say 98 of the 100) concluded that the earth is in fact round.

So who would you believe the 98 experts who say the earth is round or the 2 that say the earth is flat?

Use the same process in our current situation:

What is the consensus on how the virus spreads?
What is the consensus on whether this is like the flu?
What is the consensus on Ivermectin?
What is the consensus on vaccines saftey?


For every single one of these questions you will find a majority opinion and a minority opinion.

Make decisions based on consensus. That’s smart.

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