The New York Times: “A new slogan has emerged in the culture: “Do your own research.” On internet forums and social media platforms, people arguing about hotly contested topics like vaccines, climate change and voter fraud sometimes bolster their point or challenge their interlocutors by slipping in the acronym “D.Y.O.R.” “Two days after getting the jab, a friend of mine’s friend had a heart attack,” a Reddit user wrote recently in a discussion about Covid-19 vaccines. “I’m not saying they’re connected, but D.Y.O.R.” The slogan, which appeared in conspiracy theory circles in the 1990s, has grown in popularity over the past decade as conflicts over the reliability of expert judgment have become more pronounced. It promotes an individualistic, freethinking approach to understanding the world: Don’t be gullible — go and find out for yourself what the truth is. That may seem to be sound advice. Isn’t it always a good idea to gather more information before making up your mind about a complex topic?
In theory, perhaps. But in practice the idea that people should investigate topics on their own, instinctively skeptical of expert opinion, is often misguided. As psychological studies have repeatedly shown, when it comes to technical and complex issues like climate change and vaccine efficacy, novices who do their own research often end up becoming more misled than informed — the exact opposite of what D.Y.O.R. is supposed to accomplish…”