Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump

But in interviews, the Cornell researchers mentioned they anticipated to search out extra mentions of conspiracy theories, and never so many articles involving Mr. Trump.

Public well being specialists know that clear, concise and correct info is the muse of an efficient response to an outbreak of infectious illness. Misinformation across the pandemic is “one of the major reasons” the United States is just not doing in addition to different international locations in combating the pandemic, mentioned Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former principal deputy commissioner on the Food and Drug Administration.

“There is a science of rumors. It’s when there is uncertainty and fear,” mentioned Dr. Sharfstein, who teaches on public well being disaster communications. In the absence of remedies or vaccines, he mentioned, sincere and constant messaging is crucial.

“This is what we need to save lives,” he mentioned. “If it’s not done well, you get far more infections and deaths.”

The Cornell Alliance for Science, which spearheaded the research, is a nonprofit dedicated to utilizing science to reinforce meals safety and enhance environmental sustainability. One of its goals is to advertise science-based decision-making. Dr. Evanega and a Cornell colleague, Mark Lynas, partnered with media researchers at Cision, an organization that performs media evaluation, to conduct the research. Dr. Evanega mentioned the research was being peer reviewed by a tutorial journal, however the course of was prolonged and the authors withdrew it as a result of they felt they’d compelling public well being info to share.

The researchers sought to determine all mentions of misinformation in “traditional media” — together with in The New York Times and different main information retailers. They included fact-checking articles that corrected misinformation of their whole tally. But fact-checking articles accounted for less than 16.four % of people who included misinformation, “suggesting that the majority of Covid misinformation is conveyed by the media without question or correction,” the authors wrote.

The research discovered that conspiracy theories, when lumped collectively, accounted for 46 % of the misinformation mentions. Among these theories was one which emerged in early April suggesting that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a revered voice on the pandemic, was exaggerating deaths or was a beneficiary of pharmaceutical firm efforts to search out remedies and vaccines. To search for such tales, they examined social media hashtags, together with #HearthFauci and #FauciFraud.

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