Role models in communities key to demolishing conspiracy theories

conspiracy theories

A study by Te Puunaha Matatini found there was a spike in mainstream media coverage of conspiracy theories following the outbreak of Covid-19 in August.

Researcher Kate Hannah said they were often spread by marginalised people who were historically distrustful of science or government.

But, “good news spreads just as fast as bad news does on social media and on mainstream media,” she says.

“So we can share and talk about positive things that help people reinforce their trust in public health interventions.”

Hannah said the key was to use role models relevant to communities affected by conspiracy theories and misinformation, to rebuild trust.

Spreading conspiracies and false information about Covid-19 was especially rife among those with links to conservative evangelical or pentecostal churches in the United States says Pakilau Manase Lua.

He is chairman of the Pacific Leadership Forum’s Pacific Response Coordination Team.

Lua, told RNZ reporter Anusha Bradley, even his own friends and family are guilty of spreading false information, and it’s often difficult to convince them otherwise.

His remarks follow comments from the Health Minister that some of the 43 people linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship cluster in Auckland have been sceptical about the seriousness of the pandemic, or distrustful of authorities trying to contain the virus.

The Pacific Leadership Forum describes itself as “an alliance, a union of sovereign Pacific organisations and Pacific Leaders in New Zealand.”

It is not an incorporated entity. It is an assembly, of independent Pacifica organisations and senior Pacifica leaders “united in the pursuit of their collective and shared Pacifica vision.”

Media chaplain and Wesleyan Methodist minister Frank Ritchie said some ministers were losing the battle to stem the flow of misinformation amongst their congregations.

“What I’m seeing is ministers who are doing the right thing, but their people are being indoctrinated online.”


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News category: New Zealand.