‘Think more, share less’: Expert blames misinformation for prolonging pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash. — Once touted as heroes, health care workers say they’re now getting threats.

Nurses and doctors close to home have to deal with hostility as families and patients grow more upset about COVID policies and procedures.

You’ve probably seen it in your news feed: COVID conspiracies and far-reaching vaccine theories, that aren’t validated. As we navigate our way through all the information out there, it’s never been more important for us to be discerning about the information we trust.

It’s that kind of information people are buying into and why were having such a tough time pulling out of this pandemic.

“One thing that we say in our center a lot is that think more, share less,” said Jevin West, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public.

From his perspective, we’ve hit a new low as health care providers take the hit for unwarranted theories some people are trusting.

“They’re being attacked by the work. Now, they’re being attacked by the individuals that are just being misinformed about this,” West emphasized.

He believes that in some ways, this is why we’ve seen the state mandates on masks and vaccines.

“There are groups that have convictions, not just false belief in something, but conviction when it comes to these issues right now about masks.”

Conspiracy theories have always been around. However, because of our access to all the information, we’re living in a time that’s different than any other.

“These social media platforms, and the algorithms that run them, are designed to grab our attention. They don’t care- they only care about grabbing our attention. They don’t care about the information,” West said.

Earlier this week, we saw YouTube take a stand on the anti-vax information circulating their platform.

RELATED: YouTube to ban all vaccine misinformation, not just false claims about COVID-19 vaccine

“We have to be extra careful about sharing things, that we haven’t vetted ourselves. Or at least do a little bit of work beyond the headline,” West explained.

At a time of such uncertainty, our appetite for answers has never been so high.

There’s more to take care of than the vaccine.

“We can’t just treat the virus that we’re dealing with right now- or any challenge that we have. We have to also treat the information that people are getting,” West said.

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