• Plandemic, Propaganda & Politics: Scientific Misinformation During COVID-19

      Stengler, Erik; Miller, Kaitlyn N. (SUNY Oneonta, 2021)
      Is COVID-19 misinformation spread by one political affiliation more than others? Misinformation – whether scientific, historical or on social topics – has devastating and fatal consequences. Whether the misinformation is disseminated during a public health crisis or a war, whether it is in the United States or another nation, propaganda has long been a tool to exploit people’s motivations and trust. A deeper understanding of the spread and acceptance of misinformation will help science communicators – and possibly others – to earn the public’s trust. Only then can scientists prevent another heavily polarized public health crisis that could result in thousands more of needless deaths. By using a multidisciplinary and mixed methods approach, this research dissects the roots of misinformation and why some people are more susceptible than others. For example, some Americans find that mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic are against their constitutional rights to choose. Combining this with Dr. Anthony Fauci once saying that there was no reason to be wearing one, these Americans find themselves more susceptible to believing anti-mask misinformation. An analysis of 1000 tweets containing misinformation shows that proponents of then-U.S. President Donald Trump are significantly more likely to believe and therefore spread misinformation, as opposed to opponents and those without a clear political affiliation. Various topics of misinformation encountered during the data collection are researched to find their possible origins. Many, such as fake cures and anti-mask claims, are linked to comments made by President Trump and/or his most notorious allies.