Infectious disease experts are again pushing back against “armchair” molecular biologists who continue to make false claims about PCR tests — the primary method for diagnosing COVID-19.
These claims have circulated on social media since the beginning of the pandemic and have been repeatedly debunked, but nevertheless they persist in a variety of forums.
One of the most common false claims is that PCR tests are prone to huge numbers of false positives, and this is often rooted in a misunderstanding of how the tests work, says Jonathan Jarry, a biological scientist with McGill University’s Office for Science and Society in Montreal.
Molecular biology is complicated, and Jarry said it’s easy for people to pick up on a tidbit of information that, in itself, is true but then jump to much larger conclusions that are not accurate.
“We’re all susceptible to it,” he said.
“I’m not accusing other people of being dumb or stupid or ignorant. These are biases that we all have to deal with…. It’s just part of being human.”
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