Giving Compass' Take:

• According to Daniel Stolte, dispelling deceptive COVID-19 information requires a concentrated effort and compassionate understanding.

• How can deceptive COVID-19 information be a coping mechanism for those struggling with the reality of quarantine? Why is it important to draw awareness to falsities in order to better protect communities from harm?

• Learn about why you should increase your giving to defeat coronavirus.

As the new coronavirus has spread across the globe, so has speculative and deceptive information about its origins, how it infects people, and what can be done to protect against it.

With the pandemic moving at a pace and a scope that have overwhelmed the coping mechanisms of entire countries, it’s no surprise that individuals are left struggling with what to believe, says Jane Bambauer, a professor at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, who is studying why the COVID-19 crisis is particularly suited to breeding bad information.

“A situation like this, where even the best experts and scientists with the most critical minds are dealing with something that they still don’t fully understand, creates a low-knowledge environment,” Bambauer says. “And when people are desperate for knowledge, when we don’t have much light, we try to fill the gaps and share what we can.”

The timing of the pandemic has made it easy for misinformation to spread unusually fast and far, says Diana Daly, an assistant professor in the School of Information in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

She notes that studies have shown the more politically divided a society is, the more fertile ground it provides for the seeds of flawed information to sprout into mistaken beliefs, false news, and conspiracy theories.

When emotional turmoil is exacerbated by the rigors of social distancing, conditions are ripe for bad information to circulate, Daly says, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned.

For those who have family and friends who may deny facts or spread conspiracy theories, Daly says adopting a stance of compassion is more helpful than dismissing false beliefs outright or responding in anger.

Read the full article about deceptive COVID-19 information by Daniel Stolte at Futurity.