All IN: Conspiracies And Misinformation Surrounding COVID-19

Aug 14, 2020

Conspiracies and misinformation continue to surround the COVID-19 pandemic.

The internet has made it easier for false information about the virus to appear factual, changing the way some people react to it. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s All IN spoke with IUPUI Director of Epidemiology Education Tom Duszynki and Joanne Miller, professor of political science and international relations at University of Delaware,  about some of these conspiracies and false claims as well as their impact.

Miller says the reason people turn to conspiracy theories is largely psychological.

“During a pandemic it’s a perfect storm of uncertainty, lack of control and powerless,” Miller says. “Conspiracy theories are one form of an explanation that some people can sort of cling to as a way to gain back some control.”

Duszynski says conspiracies about masks might stem from the idea that health officials originally thought masks would not be effective. He says this was before health experts were aware of the prevalence of asymptomatic spread.  

“The mask went from not being maybe necessary in every situation to one of the primary modes of protection as this time,” Duszynski says. “As we learned more about it and then masks became essential.”  

He says COVID-19 is new and as experts continue to study the virus, facts and guidelines may change.

All IN also discussed the theory that the virus was created in a lab, the 5G tower theory and the claim that the virus is not real.