General, Research, Technology

Does Internet misinformation lead to an increase in CoVID-19 victims?

We live in a time of two epidemics: coronavirus and misinformation. The first swiftly sweeps the planet, taking thousands of lives, and the second helps her. Rumors, conspiracy theories and scammers daily contribute to the growing number of victims of CoVID-19. However, we ourselves, as a society, behave irresponsibly - according to astrophysicist, a popularizer of science and the host of the program Space of Space and Time, Neil Degrass Tyson, today the Internet has become a place where a mortal struggle is unfolding over who is right and who is not. Due to the excess of information, many lack preparation to skillfully separate opinions from facts. This leads to widespread misinformation and, as a result, to tens of thousands of deaths. Without understanding how the world works and how everything works around, finding the truth is impossible. But how to deal with misinformation during a pandemic?

Giant liner in New York, which will house a temporary aid station for infected new coronavirus

What is scientific literacy for?

It’s unlikely that today anyone will give up the Internet,despite the problems that he carries in himself. Remember how fun it was when it first appeared? Most of the information was humorous or instructive and few people imagined how the Internet would change the key moments of our lives - society, work, relationships, business and so on. Events developed so rapidly that no one noticed how people began to go online to argue. Today, everyone has their own opinion and some lay down with bones to prove their own right. Moreover, there is so much information around that few can find the right one. But have any of us been taught to use information? Are we able to distinguish truth from fiction? As Professor Tyson said in an interview with Big Think, humanity needs scientific literacy most of all, because it is it that gives the opportunity to find out when someone else is wrong.

Scientific literacy - understanding of how everything works: physiology, chemistry, physics, engineering, etc.

It is not necessary to be an engineer or scientist. It is necessary to understand how the world works at the most basic level. Knowing this, you will not go to buy homeopathic medicines - sweet balls in which the active ingredients are diluted with water to such an extent that they do not leave the active substance. Read more about the unproven effectiveness of antiviral drugs in our material on fuflomycin. We were simply not taught the skills of critical thinking, thanks to which you can not only learn how to ask questions correctly, but also accurately identify charlatans. This is a huge omission of our education system.

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Shortage of personal protective equipment for doctors is one of the most acute problems worldwide

Critical Thinking Skills - a system of judgments and views necessary foranalysis of events, things and informed conclusions. The ability to think critically allows you to apply the results to a variety of problems and situations

But critical thinking skills can be learned. This is evidenced by the results of the study.2018 published in PNAS. A series of experiments conducted by scientists at Stanford University showed that students can be trained in critical thinking skills. This means that each of us, following fairly simple rules, can learn to separate truth from lies. Scientists also note that it is necessary to teach the younger generation the skills of critical thinking. So, according to the results of another study, critical thinking skills are very important for a future career and life success in general. Therefore, ask the following six questions each time you learn something new:

  • Where did you find out new information? Was it possible for other people to express the opposite point of view?
  • Who told the new information Is this a famous person or your acquaintance? Is his opinion authoritative for you? Does the personality of the narrator matter in this particular case?
  • Did the narrator explain his opinion? Did you expose someone in a good or bad light? Why?
  • What exactly did they tell you: facts or personal opinion? Did the narrator miss important information?
  • How did you find out new information? Was the storyteller in a good or bad mood? Do you understand what you fully learned?
  • How do you distinguish fake news from true information? Share your experience in the comments to this article and join the discussion of this and other equally interesting topics in our Telegram chat

    How can critical thinking skills help combat disinformation?

    About whether masks can protect against coronavirus read in our material

    Today the whole world is facing trulyan unprecedented crisis - the pandemic of the new coronavirus CoVID-19. Uncertainty, along with the lack of answers to important questions due to the novelty of the virus, inevitably leads to panic. And when we are scared, we can commit rash acts. Surely everyone today has a friend who believes that coronavirus is a common flu, or that infection can be prevented by eating garlic or gargling with methyl alcohol. Recently in Iran, following this advice, seven people died. I am more than convinced that possessing critical thinking skills would have prevented the deaths of these people.

    During a pandemic, it’s important to understand thatthe spread of misinformation on the Internet leads to the death of other people. False information that coronavirus is not dangerous and quarantine can not be respected has already taken many lives. Therefore, the ability to verify information is necessary for everyone. As shown in the 2011 Infection movie, conspiracy theories and charlatans selling fake drugs will appear at this difficult time, so we’ll be ready for this. And the best you can do is learn critical thinking skills and follow all the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Be healthy.