Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Coronavirus "Truthers" and Men Without Masks

Two articles related to coronavirus crossed my newsfeed this morning. First is an inside look at the various Coronavirus "Truth" sites on Facebook, which peddle a variety of misinformation - from the argument that mask-wearing is a prelude to the imposition of Sharia law to masks as a way to increase child sex trafficking:

Just searching “coronavirus” will take you to a host of legitimate resources: pages for the CDC, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association. But add a word like “truth” and suddenly you’re on a different planet: groups that exist as safe spaces for coronavirus skeptics to share theories of what’s really going on.

For every post or meme that bears a “False Information” label and links to fact-checking sites, there are dozens that elude this moderation, often as they do not present a debunkable statement. How exactly are you supposed to disprove the notion that face-mask enforcement is a prelude to some requirement that women wear the Muslim niqab?

The misinformation is so diversified (yet interconnected and overlapping) that you are bound to find your personal bogeyman at the bottom of the rabbit hole. These memes and talking points are made to frighten while appealing to your “common sense,” to flatter your intellect as it suckers you in with specious “logic” and emotional whataboutery.

Sadly, I've seen a lot of these memes and specious arguments on the pages of friends and acquaintances.

The second article discusses research that attempts to explain why men are being hit harder with Coronavirus: performative masculinity:

Poll after poll, most recently a Gallup poll from July 13, has found American men are more likely to not wear masks compared to women. Specifically, the survey found that 34 percent of men compared to 54 percent of women responded they “always” wore a mask when outside their home and that 20 percent of men said they “never” wore a mask outside their home (compared to just 8 percent of women).

Tyler Reny, a postdoctoral research fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, found [similar results] by combing through data from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project, a public opinion survey that’s been interviewing more than 6,000 Americans about the virus per week since March 19.

“Those who had more sexist attitudes were far less likely to report feeling concerned about the pandemic, less likely to support state and local coronavirus policies, less likely to take precautions like washing their hands or wearing masks, and more likely to get sick than those with less sexist attitudes,” Reny told me. “What I found is that sexist attitudes are very predictive of all four sets of [aforementioned] outcomes, even after accounting for differences in partisanship, ideology, age, education, and population density.”

Stay healthy, stay informed, and please:

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