Conspiracy Theories Complicate Ebola Outbreak But Might Help Those Affected ‘Regain Psychological Equilibrium’

New York Times: Fighting Ebola, and the Conspiracy Theories
Brendan Nyhan, assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College

“…The latest example of the dangers of health misinformation comes from Western Africa, where the response to an Ebola outbreak in four countries has been hampered by conspiracy theories about its causes and phony rumors about how to treat it. False beliefs may not be the biggest obstacle to containing the Ebola outbreak, but they make an awful situation worse. … Anyone facing such a terrifying outbreak would be panicked, distrustful of outsiders bearing a potential death sentence, and eager for any shred of hope. … Until we can help people feel as if the situation is coming under control, we shouldn’t be surprised if they try to regain psychological equilibrium however they can” (8/25).

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