Thinking Critically in the Time of COVID-19

Updated May 27, 2020

We’ve all had well-intentioned friends and family members share misinformed YouTube videos, articles and memes about the Coronavirus outbreak. The problem with misinformation, especially in this or any other health-related context, is that it can give a false sense of security or hope at best, and can be downright dangerous at worst. So, the next time someone you know shares counsel for COVID, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Is it accurate? If, for example, the data shared is contrary to the entire collective body of scientific evidence on Coronavirus gathered from around the globe, then the chances are good that it is inaccurate.

Is it authoritative? Are the authors specialists in the field in which they are writing? What are their credentials?

Is there an inherent bias? Unfortunately, this point is very important in relation to the former, as there have been videos circulating with actual medical experts in their fields that have now been debunked due to a severe conflict of interest. So one must ask, does the original content creator stand to profit in any way from the information they’ve presented? For example, paid speaking engagements, or purchased shares in a company peddling a “cure-all”?

Is it current? Information is being collected and changes daily, if not hourly in some cases. Is the information up to date?

Has this information been verified by multiple, credible sources? Has it passed “peer review”?

With opinions, fears and COVID abound, it’s now more important than ever to remain vigilant in the spread of misinformation. If you doubt the veracity of an article or video, research it! We no longer have the privilege of taking things at face value. Try the following sources to separate fact from fiction:

General fact checking websites:

Snopes

FactCheck.org

PolitiFact

TruthorFiction  

Hoax-Slayer

 

Coronavirus-specific websites:

Vancouver Coastal Health

BC Centre for Disease Control 

World Health Organization

Government of Canada – Coronavirus information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

~Amanda