Information, they say, is power, or was it “knowledge” they used? In this COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone can agree that we are on the deficient side as far as information about the pandemic is concerned. We effortfully try to update ourselves with information that the Center for Disease Control and Nation Disease Control Departments of countries try to feed us with, but even they too do not fully understand what they are dealing with yet.
For a new virus that constantly mutates, we expect some level of hidden and unknown details about the disease. But you know what? This is totally driving almost everyone nuts.
National and public agencies put up new statistics values about the disease and people just keep asking, “are those values true?”. In many countries, people don’t just see the values in the statistics tie-up with what they actually see and that forces them to have many thoughts about the stats.
Humans naturally want explanations to things and when we do not find any, we crazily make up our own explanations based on what we already think or believe.
Research on Misinformation Review has shown that over 60% of people in the United States believe the conspiracy theories that the COVID-19 is actually a “Plandemic”. 29% of this number believe that the COVID-19 is not actually as widespread and serious as it is said to be, but that the threat has been exaggerated to damage President Donald Trump, the other 31% agree that the virus was purposely created for some other underlying reasons. The review stated that the strongest predictors of beliefs in these ideas are a psychological predisposition to reject expert information and accounts of major events (denialism), a psychological predisposition to view major events as the product of conspiracy theories (conspiracy thinking), and partisan and ideological motivations.
But why would people choose to reject information from authority sources and accept some circulating junks on social media?
According to another research done by Karen Douglas et al, at the University of Kent seek to find out the psychological factors that drive the popularity of conspiracy theories which explain important events as secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups. It stated that over one-third of Americans believe that global warming is a hoax.
It has been found that important events relating to science, medicine and health-related events are commonly converted to conspiracies. People easily manipulate health-related data and information into some form of conspiracy theories and distribute to the lay public, even though they may be lay-men themselves.
Finding causal explanations for events is a core part of building up a stable, accurate and internally consistent understanding of the world, especially when adequate information is unavailable. This is in keeping with another concept called “confirmation bias“, where people look for probable explanations that would support what they already believe even if it does not look right.
COVID-19 has attracted huge arrays of conspiracy theories including China Dominance Plot, Population Control Plot, 5G hypothesis, Forceful Vaccination, Political Embezzlement Schemes, and so on, just name it. Some have argued in malarial-endemic areas that the symptoms of the disease resemble malaria and that cases of malaria are now being politicized and counted as coronavirus cases in order to attract the monetary attention of public and international aids, but this time, for, political gains. And all these theories and hypotheses owe to the fact that so many things are still poorly understood about the novel coronavirus, insufficient to satisfy the curiosity of people and even the government is not giving satisfactory answers to the questions of people. Is it an attempt to give answers to people’s questions that these conspiracies come about, or to allay their fears or just to play some political stunts on some other people? They say “in every rumour, there is an element of truth” but this saying has been misconstrued in ways that make people believe rubbish ideas instead of finding out the truth for themselves. But it seems people would naturally choose what they want to believe, irrespective of how stupid it may seem.
According to K. Douglas, et al, in the study highlighted above, one major reason why conspiracy theories prevail amongst people includes one of the three motives talked about in their work, is the “Social Motives” where “people believe and propagate causal explanations because of a desire to belong to and maintain a positive image of the self and the in-group”. There is every chance that you may have been caught sometime saying or justifying theories and offering causal explanations about certain beliefs because you think that by doing so, you are perceived as belonging to the group and against another probably stronger group.
This is not the first time conspiracy theories have been so popularized and it definitely won’t be the last but the novel coronavirus has received so much more that it can normally hold. People have said and held on to such beliefs that you would not think they would fall for as far as their social class and intelligence is concerned. In short, another research reported in The Guardian says that smart people are even more susceptible to fake news and conspiracy theories. But this is a topic for another day.
In the midst of the different and non-aligning theories, how do you keep your sanity? What do you believe about the coronavirus, or at least, how do you know what to believe?
It may be justifiable that the voices of authorities in the political and medical spheres over this outbreak are still shaky in the information they provide about the novel coronavirus disease. Uncertainty looms everywhere, and guidelines changes very rapidly but one thing we can be sure of are: -the coronavirus statistics keep rising(even though, we cannot be sure of the exact accuracy of the values). But that does not mean that the authorities(government and health) have not offered some information, at least, the one they are confident about. What bothers me is why people have resorted to accepting unverified information over that provided by the national and international health authorities.
You may have been caught in the web of fake beliefs, or have chosen to believe whichever thing you love just because you are fed up with the uncertainties and inadequacy of information or even silence of the health and political authorities but here in this post, the aim is for you to find a way to best choose what you should believe. I give a briefly explained list of how to identify and avoid wrong information about the COVID-19 outbreak without outrightly accepting them or broadcasting them further.
Measures To Keep Your Sanity About COVID-19 and Stay Safest
You know what? You are judged by what you believe because that would reflect what you say or act upon. Many so-called intelligent people have been rendered insane because of some ridiculous things they held on to. Anyone can fall for wrong beliefs but here are some ways to keep your stance with right thinking about coronavirus and the COVID-19:
Check WHO, CDC and National Disease Control guidelines
As far as we are all concerned these bodies have been effortfully trying to learn more about the disease, its prevention and control. The CDC has remained forefront in championing research about the coronavirus disease and they are expected to be the most reliable source of information for this pandemic. It does not mean that some of the measures from these authorities may not be logically and scientifically explainable, but at least, they are more authoritative than most other sources.
Take every new information as false until you have verified it
If you really want to know the truth, you will probe headlines further, you would question yourself more about new concepts that come your way. The bottom line is to take every new information from unverified sources with a pinch of salt until otherwise proven.
Verify new information before broadcasting
Learning to verify new information is not really as difficult as one would think. It all begins with you looking at the source; where the information is coming from. Then, examine the content if it is consistent with already scientific information. One easy way to spot fake sources is to look out for typographic and/or grammatic errors in the language of communication. Verified sources usually have a line of proof-reading for such errors. One other important way of verifying new information is looking it up on the internet as there may have already been someone who has said something about it there. Also, you must learn to recognize what is authoritative and non-biased from what is not.
Do not adopt measures or drugs that are not approved by health authorities
Matters of health are usually life or death. You must not allow anyone to play with or jeopardize your health for any reason. Inasmuch as drugs are used to treat illnesses, when used inappropriately, they can constitute major harm to the body. So before you adopt measures or use drugs, ensure that they have been tested and approved for human use for the treatment of the coronavirus. So far, no single drug has been approved for the treatment of the COVID-19, but a few drugs have had some favourable speculations but have not been reported to be effectively curative and/or preventive for the disease.
Ensure that there is no harm associated before taking any medications and at what dose
So many supplementary drugs and the so-called immune boosters are on the rampage. Most of them are supplementary vitamins and minerals that claim to offer some immunity during the COVID pandemic. Indeed, a strong immune system is important for viral infection including the coronavirus but caution must be taken to confirm that there is no harm associated with a particular drug before taking them.
Adopt critical thinking in your evaluation of facts
Critical thinking the ultimate tool for verifying truths about every bizarre concept. In short, critical thinking is an all-round skill that is also utilized in business, leadership, decision-making, etc.
In critical thinking, you are able to objectively analyze information without allowing any form of internal or external bias to influence your judgment. Learn how to develop critical thinking here.
Anyone can be found believing what they ought not to believe in relation to their own social and intellectual qualification. But care must be taken to avoid accepting wrong beliefs and information that may affect your health or at least, affect the way others perceive you in the intellectual society. The fact that information come from a non-authoritative source does not render it false and invalid but it should raise your suspicion and make you dive deeper to verify it. At the end of all you choose to accept, ensure you keep your safety and the safety of others as the ultimate priority. And that means you must avoid spreading unverified information even if you choose to accept them for the time being. A publicly declared falsehood can strip you of your honour if you were some highly revered intellectual, or remove from you the little intellectual status you have been able to build for yourself. Stay safe!!!
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