This is my periodic reminder that we are fighting more than one pandemic.
The twindemic of disinformation is killing us. Viral conspiracy theories are preventing people, not just in the US, but globally from accepting public health advice. A syndemic is when two epidemics potentiate each other and outcomes are worse. That has happened here and is happening elsewhere. Cases are rising rapidly. Today the US broke a new world record of 85,000 new cases in one day.
Globally, conspiracy theories and rumors are such a problem that the World Health Organization is working with Wikipedia to help fight disinformation. In the US we have sites like Infodemic blog and Calling Bullshit to help us learn. The UK has an intriguing App called “go viral” to show how easy it is to get pulled into a social media culture of conspiracy. Checkology is an App to help you discern fact from fiction.
Data shows that conspiracy theories are one of the biggest drivers of non-compliance with mask wearing and social distancing, especially at mass gatherings. If you can, look at the WashingtonPost article that illustrates in real time how mask wearing makes a difference.
We can each be susceptible to misinformation, but there are traits and situations we can be more aware of. Some people may be more susceptible than others. It turns out critical thinking is the antidote. Understanding how someone can develop these beliefs is helpful. This Conspiracy Theory Handbook can be helpful in pulling loved ones back to reality by using critical thinking as a method.
Now is the time to remember that we must also be vigilant about voting misinformation. This article reminds us of the difference between misinformation and disinformation, which is deliberate. There are enemies of the US using disinformation about the pandemic and the election to divide us. Each of us can easily fall into spreading misinformation. We spread it because we believe it to be true. Checking sources is vital. Our lives depend on knowing the truth and reliability of what we share.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and use critical thinking.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.