Steering the Ship in a Sea of Volatility
What will unfold over the coming months? No one knows. The stock market is performing somewhat well despite record unemployment claims. As businesses begin reopening, people have supported these developments while others have outright attacked the sudden reopening businesses, fearing the increased spread of COVID-19. It is impossible to dictate which attitude has more credence in the grand scheme of what would be better for the nation, but it shows how reactive the American public is to changes in society. All eyes are on the Capital at this moment, focused primarily on the decisions of Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director, and President Donald Trump. Nowadays, Americans are invested far more into politics and medicine than they have been previously, making them extremely susceptible to sensational headlines and false reports regarding those topics. In this age of volatility, it is important to help dictate the flow of information, especially when false medical information would be detrimental to the American public.
Medical misinformation is a topic to be taken seriously as not all Americans have access to the same credible news sources. One case that caught my eye early in March was a story about televangelist Jim Bakker peddling a fake COVID-19 cure in Missouri.(1) His TV show proposed that a “Silver Solution from God” could cure COVID-19, along with HIV, SARS, and other illnesses. Another case was Florida-based Genesis II Church of Health and Healing trying to sell a “miracle mineral solution.”(1) The FDA found that the solution’s chlorine dioxide content was equivalent to that of industrial bleach. These instances do not aim to bash specific religious institutions, but they highlight that medical misinformation does have a market in the United States. Responsible community leaders should take action to prevent the spread of such information and direct people towards trusted sources, namely cdc.gov for COVID-19 related questions.
In response to more recent news, I believe that credibility needs closer examining. Dr. Judy Mikovitz is a coronavirus conspiracist who recently released a video titled “Plandemic.” The documentary promotes unproven treatments, implies that COVID-19 was manufactured in a laboratory, and claims that wearing masks will likely make you sick. After being spread around social media platforms, it was promptly removed by Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and other sites.(2) The troubling fact is that the title of “Dr.” lends credibility to speakers who may not necessarily be using the correct logic and evidence to back up their claims. Audiences exposed to the video with minimal experience in science may wholeheartedly believe all claims presented. Furthermore, the interview/documentary format engages audiences in ways that a straightforward interview cannot. The dramatization through music, sound cues, and outlandish claims aim to gain credence through emotional appeal. One of the videos I recommend viewing to get an opposing perspective to the one proposed by “Plandemic” is from Dr. Mikhail "Mike" Varshavski D.O.(3)
When we consider how to move forward, recognize how we can become community leaders during this period of social distancing. Social media has become a hub for misinformation, but it is also a venue by which to solve this problem. Don’t be afraid to question others’ views, especially when it comes to their safety. Don’t be afraid to learn from others’ perspectives and surrender some of your own ideas; credibility is built from a strong foundation of logic and repeated evidence.