America's Frontline Misinformation Spreaders
Misinformation spreaders, doppelgangers, and refunds privilege
As often happens, my feeds were flooded with contrarian doctors decrying one of the nation’s top medical journals before I even saw the object of their derision.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) launched in 1883 and has since been one of the world’s top peer-reviewed journals. The publication has not been without controversy, but in general, it’s one of the most respected out there.
In the anti-vax world, that means JAMA must be controlled by nefarious forces.
🔬 The study: “Communication of COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media by Physicians in the US” is written by six researchers from the Department of Health Promotion and Policy, School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
While I’ll be dedicate Monday’s post to its findings, here’s a broad overview:
In this mixed-methods study of high-use social media platforms, physicians from across the US and representing a range of medical specialties were found to propagate COVID-19 misinformation about vaccines, treatments, and masks on large social media and other online platforms and that many had a wide reach based on number of followers.
This research is especially important as it focuses on doctors who use their credentials to spread misinformation, which creates a cognitive dissonance in their patients (or, mostly, online followers).
In our research for Conspirituality, we’ve noticed that many public figures use their degrees to market themselves as “being on the inside and seeing the truth,” which feeds their followers’ desire for insider knowledge. They never seem to question what their role inside of the system meant, or why they left. The basic equation is thus:
MD working in a hospital = compromised shill
MD who left the field = trustworthy patriot
While most of this study’s information is known, seeing the data clearly presented reminds us of the importance of good science literacy.
☑ Of note:
Twitter was the most popular platform used to spread COVID misinformation
Unvaccinated people are over 3x more likely to die from COVID than vaccinated people (as of December 2022, the rate was 271 per 100k deaths for unvaccinated compared to 82 per 100k vaccinated)
The Cochrane review used by anti-vaxxers to claim that “masks don’t work” involves a misreading of the actual findings
The misinformation is working, as less than 70% of eligible Americans have received the full vaccination series, while only 15.5% have received a bivalent booster