COVID-19 triggers conspiracy theories ?
SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread worldwide, with new cases being reported continuously. Apparently conspiracy theories are spreading so quickly, apparently, that powerful actors are plotting something badly related to the virus that causes COVID-19. Our research on medical conspiracy theories shows that this phenomenon has the potential to have as dangerous an impact on society as the plague itself.
A conspiracy theory says that this virus is a biological weapon that was designed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States to fight against China. While other theories believe that the British and American governments have introduced this virus as a way to make money from vaccines. Although many of these conspiracy theories appear to be fabricated, the belief that the forces of evil are carrying out a secret plan is widespread in every society. Often this is linked to health. Politik Indonesia
A large YouGov survey in 2019 found that 16% of respondents in Spain believed that HIV had been created and spread around the world intentionally by a secret group or organization. And 27% of those questioned in France and 12% in Great Britain think that “the truth behind the harmful effects of vaccines is deliberately hidden from the public”.
Spreading false news and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 epidemic was a very serious problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even created a website to “break the myths” in an attempt to overcome it.
- Spread of conspiracy theories
Research shows that conspiracy theories have a tendency to emerge with regard to times of crisis in society – such as terrorist attacks, rapid political changes, or economic crises.
Conspiracy theories develop in times of uncertainty and threat, as we try to understand a chaotic world. This is the same condition produced by a virus outbreak, which explains the spread of conspiracy theories related to SARS-CoV-2. Politik Dunia
A similar condition occurred during the Zika outbreak in 2015-2016. Zika’s conspiracy theory at the time said that the Zika virus was a biological weapon rather than a natural occurrence. Research that traces comments on Reddit during the Zika virus outbreak, found conspiracy talk emerged as a way for people to overcome the extreme uncertainties they felt about Zika.
Trust in the suggestions of health professionals and organizations is an important resource for dealing with health crises. However, people who believe in conspiracy theories generally do not trust groups they consider to be strong, including managers, politicians, and drug companies. If people don’t believe, they are less likely to follow medical advice.
Researchers have shown that medical conspiracy theories have the power to increase distrust in medical authority, which can affect people’s willingness to protect themselves. People who support medical conspiracy theories are less likely to get vaccinated or use antibiotics and are more likely to consume herbal or vitamin supplements. Plus, they are more likely to say they will trust medical advice from non-professionals such as friends and family.
- Fatal consequences
Seeing these findings, people who support conspiracy theories about SARS-CoV-2 may be less likely to follow health advice such as frequently washing hands with alcohol or soap cleaners, or isolating themselves after visiting at-risk areas.
Conversely, these people may be more likely to have negative attitudes toward preventative behavior or use dangerous alternatives as a treatment method. This will increase the chance of the virus spreading and put more people in danger. We can already see “alternative healing approaches” popping up – some of which are very dangerous. The popular promoter of the conspiracy theory QAnon, for example, says that the virus is planned by the so-called “deep state” and claims the virus can be warded off by drinking bleach.
The spread of medical conspiracy theories can also have severe consequences for other parts of society. For example, during the Black Death in Europe in the 14th century, the Jews were made a pandemic scapegoat.
This conspiracy theory led to violent attacks and massacres of Jewish communities throughout Europe. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an increase in racist attacks around the world targeted at people considered to be East Asians. However, intervening and stopping the spread of conspiracy theories can be done. Research shows that campaigns promoting rebuttal to medical conspiracy theories tend to have some success in changing from conspiracy beliefs. Games like Bad News, which offer people the opportunity to act as producers of fake news, have been shown to increase people’s ability to see and reject false information. Berita Politik Terkini
- Conspiracy theories can be very dangerous for society.
Not only can these theories influence people’s health choices, they can also disrupt the way different groups interact and increase hostility and violence against those deemed “abetting”. So, in addition to acting to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the government must also act to stop misinformation and conspiracy theories related to viruses so as not to get out of control.