Why There is Still So Much COVID-19 Confusion

Cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies are likely affecting how you are viewing information and advice about COVID-19.

Early on, it was easy to understand why there was so much confusion about COVID-19, after all, it took some time before we even got a real name for the new or novel virus that is causing this pandemic.

And now?

While there is still a lot more research to do, we have already learned a lot about the best ways to help prevent and treat COVID-19 infections.

Do you know who to turn to for trusted information and advice about COVID-19?

Too many people don’t seem to understand that though…

Why There is Still So Much COVID-19 Confusion

Many people also don’t understand that advice and recommendations often shift and change as we get new information.

“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

And of course, you have to expect that to happen when you are dealing with a brand new disease!

So what are people confused about?

Everything from the effectiveness of face masks to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (they do) to whether our COVID-19 death counts have been inflated (we are probably seeing under-counts).

Surprisingly, some people are still confused about just how deadly COVID-19 infections really are.

If you think made-up news and information is true, you might want to rethink where you regularly get your news and information from...
If you think made-up news and information is true, you might want to rethink where you regularly get your news and information from

Why are so many people still confused?

“Compared with other Americans, adults who “often” use social media to get news about COVID-19 report higher levels of exposure to the conspiracy theory that the pandemic was intentionally planned.”

Three Months In, Many Americans See Exaggeration, Conspiracy Theories and Partisanship in COVID-19 News

Where are they getting their information???

Who do you trust for information and advice about COVID-19?

I’m guessing it isn’t from experts…

Who to Trust About COVID-19

Adding to a lot of the confusion we are dealing with are folks pushing misinformation.

As you learn who to trust for information about COVID-19, you will hopefully develop the skills you need to be more skeptical about all of the things you see and read.

“Although my main message is that awareness of cognitive biases can lead to more effective messages and measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, where cognitive bias is regarded as harmful, it may be helpful to take steps to reduce such bias. Education and awareness of cognitive biases are key, so that individuals and organisations question flawed or traditional thinking habits and try to promote evidence based thinking. At an individual level, the additional advice is to slow down in your thinking, pause and reflect, and seek external views.”

Covid-19 and cognitive bias

And you will hopefully turn to sources that many of us use, including:

Still confused?

Check your biases.

Don’t let them get in your way of following the advice from the experts that could protect you and your family from getting and spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

What does that mean?

Well, if you don’t think anyone should tell you to wear a mask, then you will likely look for information and advice that says masks don’t work and aren’t necessary (confirmation bias).

You will also likely not believe any information and advice that says COVID-19 is deadly.

Why?

Well, if you believed it was deadly, then you would work to avoid it and try to keep those around you safe, including doing things like wearing a mask. Instead, cognitive dissonance, the anxiety you get from believing in two things that contradict each other, will push you towards believing things that reinforce your idea that you don’t have to wear a mask.

What to Know About COVID-19 Confusion

Tired of being confused about COVID-19 and other things?

“It’s sobering to note all the ways in which human brains distort decision processes; perhaps it’s a wonder that any good decision is ever made.”

How to Make Better Decisions About Coronavirus

Be more skeptical and look for new sources of information and advice and understand how cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies affect our decision making.

More on COVID-19 Confusion

Follow These Social Media Doctors Fighting Medical Misinformation

Folks wouldn’t fall for non-evidence based treatments so easily if more folks followed and read more of the the doctors who are alread on social media fighting medical misinformation.

I often hear that we need more doctors on social media fighting medical misinformation.

You know what the real problem is?

There aren’t enough folks following the doctors who are on social media fighting medical misinformation…

Where Are the Social Media Doctors Fighting Medical Misinformation?

Sure, more would likely be better, but you can’t get past the simple fact that those pushing quackery and medical misinformation can easily attract huge followings on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Your friendly pediatrician (tweetiatrician) combating that medical misinformation?

Not so much…

Is that because most of us like writing more than fighting for likes?

Probably.

It’s also likely a function of the simple fact that fake facts are more interesting than real facts.

Follow These Social Media Doctors Fighting Medical Misinformation

So know that you know that they exist, where are these doctors fighting medical misinformation and which ones should you follow?

Here are some to get you started.

David Gorski is one of the social media doctors who is fighting medical misinformation who is active on Twitter.

Gorski has been writing about medical misinformation on the Internet since before there was an Internet.

If you aren’t reading his blog Respectful Insolence, then you likely don’t know why quackademic medicine is such a problem, you may not have been aware of all of the players who have been scamming pushing complementary and alternative medicine over the years, and you might have never heard of misinformed consent. He is also active on Science Based Medicine, where he is a managing editor.

Like David Gorski, Steven Novella has been writing about pseudoscience for a long time, first at the NESS (the New England Skeptical Society) and then at The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, Neurologica, and Science-Based Medicine.

Are you following them?

Jennifer Gunter is one of the more popular social media doctors fighting medical misinformation.

Jennifer Gunter may be best known for calling out Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and her jade vaginal eggs, vaginal steaming, and other quackery. Active on Twitter, she also has a column in the New York Times, has a new book coming out, The Vagina Bible (pre-order it now!), and she is getting her own TV show!!!

She is another doctor you should be following, as she is doing a great job of calling out non-evidence based treatments.

And then there are these folks you should be reading and following (no, they are not all doctors…):

That they all don’t have millions of followers is one of the reasons that folks fall for medical misinformation is so easily.

It’s the reason that you might go to a chiropractor when you are having problems breastfeeding, even though you don’t really understand how chiropractic works.

And why you buy homeopathic “medicines” when your kids have colic or a runny nose, not understanding that you don’t get any active medicine when you buy something with homeopathy on the label.

From misinformation about vaccines to every type of alternative medicine scam out there, these folks have been writing and warning us about them for a long time.

Surprised when someone “breaks a story” about celebrity anti-vaxxers or the “latest” alternative medicine fad that is hurting folks? You wouldn’t be if you were following these folks fighting medical misinformation.

More on Social Media Doctors Fighting Medical Misinformation