Nothing spreads faster than a rumour.
And once established a rumour, true or false, is almost impossible to dislodge.
Humans probably started spreading rumours as soon as we acquired the gift of language. And in our modern age, they’re being spread even faster through our social platforms.
The escalation has seen rumours go from damaging to one person’s reputation to dangerous to society.
Climate change denial is one example, and the anti-vaccine movement is another. Even though the study that started it all by linking vaccinations with autism has been thoroughly debunked and the author stripped of his credentials, the idea that vaccines are harmful has continued to spread and grow.
Want to know what’s harmful? Not getting immunized and helping dangerous, preventable diseases to spread through society again.
There’s a couple of things that contribute to the spread of rumour-level information like the anti-vaxxer message. One is the lack of solid information to compete with it.
There are excellent websites for medical information available, but since doctors and scientists don’t make YouTube videos about settled science, they’re not competing in the same arena as the conspiracy theorists spreading links to misinformation through Facebook and other platforms.
Another problem is a lack of critical thinking and that overwhelming human desire to be the person sharing the real info that no one else has.
It’s just not as much fun to talk about science that is factual, provable and everyone knows about anyway.
Spreading rumours isn’t going to go away. The only way to fight it is to get out there and share links to the credible sources; help spread the truth at least as fast as the rumour.
–Black Press Media