25% of People Believe Unproven Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19


Misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 continue to flourish in the wake of the pandemic. A recent online survey of about 2,500 people found that 25 percent either showed a consistent pattern or “very high levels” of endorsing “conspiracy thinking” about the novel coronavirus.
Medical experts urge people to listen to medically credible individuals who speak from knowledge and experience instead of following ideas and untested therapies from social media and even the White House.
Knowledgeable professionals suggest simple interventions to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Seek medical care if you feel ill, and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, recently called the novel coronavirus his “worst nightmare” because it’s highly contagious and can cause many people to become sick or even die.
Some people may not believe that, because there’s been considerable efforts to downplay Fauci’s warnings — including the president — arguing that COVID-19 is simply a new flu.
Despite other infectious disease experts concurring with Fauci’s assessments, it’s all part of a late-breaking news cycle as scientists grapple to understand the virus. That takes lots of data, which takes some time to collect. In the meantime, some are choosing to fill the void with their own ideas, many of them being misguided. More people believe aspects of COVID-19 conspiracy theories than you may think. An online survey of about 2,500 people in England and published in May by Cambridge University Press found that while half of people didn’t engage in “conspiracy thinking” about the coronavirus, about 25 percent either showed a consistent pattern or “very high levels” of endorsing those ideas.
“Such ideas do not appear confined to the fringes,” the researchers from the University of Oxford concluded. “The conspiracy beliefs connect to other forms of mistrust and are associated with less compliance with government guidelines and greater unwillingness to take up future tests and treatment.” But that’s bound to happen when you mix uncertainty, fear, economic despair, a contentious presidential race, social media trolls, including misinformation campaigns from foreign governments like Russia who seek to sow confusion.
The bad information even comes from top officials like President Trump, who wondered aloud during a coronavirus briefing in April about the potential of using light and disinfectant inside the body to kill the virus. That prompted companies like Clorox and Lysol to remind people not to ingest their products.
President Trump also instructed people to take hydroxychloroquine because, “What do you have to lose?” But soon medical journals like The LancetTrusted Source and the New England Journal of Medicine retracted studies on the drug because it relied on faulty data.