From Science Daily
February 27, 2020
When disease epidemics and outbreaks occur, conspiracy theories often emerge that compete with the information provided by public health officials. A Dartmouth-led study in Science Advances finds that information used to counter myths about Zika in Brazil not only failed to reduce misperceptions but also reduced the accuracy of people’s other beliefs about the disease.
The results provide important context as countries launch public information campaigns about the new coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect oneself and prevent the spread of the disease.
“It is essential to evaluate public health messaging and information campaigns,” said co-author Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth. “Our results indicate that efforts to correct misperceptions about emerging diseases like Zika may not be as effective as we might hope.”