Fighting an Infodemic with Cognitive Vaccines

From the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website:

An infodemic is too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. It causes confusion and risk-taking behaviours that can harm health. It also leads to mistrust in health authorities and undermines the public health response. An infodemic can intensify or lengthen outbreaks when people are unsure about what they need to do to protect their health and the health of people around them. With growing digitization – an expansion of social media and internet use – information can spread more rapidly. This can help to quickly fill information voids but can also amplify harmful messages.

Infodemic management is the systematic use of risk- and evidence-based analysis and approaches to manage the infodemic and reduce its impact on health behaviours during health emergencies.

Infodemic management aims to enable good health practices through 4 types of activities:

  • Listening to community concerns and questions
  • Promoting understanding of risk and health expert advice
  • Building resilience to misinformation
  • Engaging and empowering communities to take positive action

WHO’s Infodemic website:

From: CBC’s Quirks & Quarks, 2023/01/21

How to fight an infodemic with cognitive vaccines:

In the last few years, many officials have noted how we’ve suffered not one but two outbreaks. One was the biological epidemic of COVID-19, the other, an “infodemic” of political, medical, and scientific misinformation. Now psychologists are testing whether we can fight misinformation the way we fight viruses — with inoculationSander van der Linden, a social psychologist from the University of Cambridge, tested this on Youtube. He found that by exposing people to the techniques used to create misinformation, they could produce intellectual antibodies to build resistance to it much like vaccines build resistance to disease. His study was published in the journal Science Advances.

For short videos that inoculate against misinformation online, click here.:

Here is one of these videos below:

Scapegoating (Blame Canada):