Misinformation about the Covid-19 Pandemic has been circulating through the internet much like a virus would. Those with a disdain for science and rational thought tirelessly tweet, comment, share and regurgitate any piece of information that seems to go against the ‘mainstream narrative’ without fact-checking or checking their sources. Don’t be so close-minded they say.
The problem is that they are so open-minded that their brains have fallen right out.
A disturbing trend is emerging in Canada within the so-called ‘end the lock down’ movements in which anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, conspiracy theorists, gun fanatics, and some regular conservatives are teaming up with members of the far right to advocate against what they see as a loss of freedom. Of course they don’t have the freedom to unknowingly infect people with a disease we don’t really know much about, but don’t tell them that.
The result of this mixing of conspiracy-minded bunch is a broadening of fascist ideas. The more these groups organize and protest, the more people, knowingly or not, get sucked into these fascist echo chambers. Given enough time, someone who had already bought into anti-vaccine falsehoods, could fairly easily be convinced of anti-immigrant sentiments or that maybe the world is actually controlled by a globalist elite?
And that’s the common thread between these groups: they all emphatically reject the findings of science. For whatever reason, they have fallen for their outlandish conspiracy theory of choice. They are not willing to have their minds changed, no matter the evidence presented to them. Any attempt to persuade them is perceived as a personal attack on their identity.
Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, climate change deniers, Nazi’s, and the like have such a low standard of evidence for their beliefs that if you were to believe that Covid-19 is a hoax or that vaccines cause Autism, then why not believe that globalist elite runs the world? Why wouldn’t you believe Bill Gates is trying to control the population with a vaccine and a microchip? Why wouldn’t you jump in on deriding the ethnic scapegoat of the day? Why wouldn’t you scream “fake nurses!” at nurses standing outside the hospital as you walk down the street in protest?
The possibilities are endless. Is it any wonder that anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the recent months?
Of course we know that all these ideas are incredibly ridiculous. For our own sake we must protect ourselves and our friends from falling into these ideological sink holes. We must promote rational critical thinking skills, and not to take things at face value if something seems off. We must promote the views of scientists who spend their entire lives studying viruses and epidemics. Brushing up on scientific concepts such as randomized controlled trials and selection bias will help. Learning to spot logical fallacies is important. Checking numbers and statistics from reliable sources is a must.
In order for us to heal, we have to fight both the virus, and the misinformation and hate arising from the pandemic.