The Daily Dose: Looks like coronavirus conspiracy theories are here to stay, unfortunately

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Getting a firm understanding of the current COVID-19 outbreak has been elusive on every front. Starting with basic data such as confirmed infections and even deaths, nothing has been straightforward. That has made any form of disease forecasting an exercise in futility. An article in STAT, explores some of those difficulties, using the Los Alamos National Laboratories’ efforts as an example. “The Los Alamos researchers are still wrestling with their Covid-19 model, which is showing — incorrectly — the outbreak “exploding quite quickly in China,” Del Valle said. It is overestimating how many susceptible people become infected, probably because it’s not accurately accounting for social isolation and other countermeasures.”

With one eye on the fake news and conspiracy theories running rampant about the current COVID-19 outbreak, a Scientific American article examines how counterproductive fact-based rebuttals can be. Using past zika outbreaks as an example, researchers found “attempts to counter false beliefs about the Zika virus with information from the World Health Organization were often counterproductive: the debunking failed to lower misperceptions and even reduced respondents’ confidence in accurate information about the epidemic of the pathogen.” Anyone who’s read the tweets and replies surrounding COVID-19 conspiracy theories knows the drill.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, a recent study examined flat-earthen videos on YouTube. According to the authors, “The research finds that flat-earth videos significantly outnumbered debunking videos, were almost twice as long on average and were more likely to include conspiracy ideation, science denial and religious thought and to reference other social media. On the other hand, debunking videos were more likely to reference established science and enjoyed greater favorability ratings from viewers.”

The basic idea behind the paleo diet is a bit silly. The whole eating like we’re hunter gatherers. Now a new study duds more silly to the silliness. As per Science, “a new study suggests the food some early humans in Norway ate may have not only been unhealthy, but downright toxic. In some cases, these people may have consumed more than 20 times the levels of dangerous metals recommended for humans today.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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