Coronavirus is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories – here’s why that’s a serious problem

by Daniel Jolley and Pia Lamberty, written for the Conversation.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, with new cases being reported all the time. Spreading just as fast, it seems, are conspiracy theories that claim powerful actors are plotting something sinister to do with the virus. Our research into medical conspiracy theories shows that this has the potential to be just as dangerous for societies as the outbreak itself.

One conspiracy theory proposes that the coronavirus is actually a bio-weapon engineered by the CIA as a way to wage war on China. Others are convinced that the UK and US governments introduced the coronavirus as a way to make money from a potential vaccine. Some people even suggest that Bill Gates is sponsoring the coronavirus.

Although many of these conspiracy theories seem far-fetched, the belief that evil powers are pursuing a secret plan is widespread in every society. Often these relate to health. A large 2019 YouGov poll found 16% of respondents in Spain believe that HIV was created and spread around the world on purpose by a secret group or organisation. And 27% of French and 12% of British respondents were convinced that “the truth about the harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately hidden from the public”.

The spread of fake news and conspiracy theories around the coronavirus is such a significant problem that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has created a “myth busters” webpage to try and tackle them.

Read the full piece on The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-is-a-breeding-ground-for-conspiracy-theories-heres-why-thats-serious-problem-132489  

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