Journalistic spread of COVID-19 misinformation

Real Science founder, Dr. Glorioso, guest lectures Boston University’s Medical Ethics class. She and Philosophy PhD candidate, Brian Moen, discuss how mainstream media sources have cast doubt on COVID-19 vaccine safety. We also discuss school safety, COVID in kids, and superspreading. We theorize and pose research questions about why false information may be spreading. We touch on the nature of propaganda informed by the framework of Noam Chomsky.

Lecture Outline and Readings

Topic 1: Casting doubt on COVID vaccine safety

Overview- news story about the polarized false information Pediatricians are hearing from concerned parents.

Where is this coming from?

Problematic News Stories:

1. Quoting politicians can spread misinformation.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/24/top-us-health-officials-tout-coronavirus-vaccine-safety-as-concerns-stir-.html?fbclid=IwAR0ykZTTlijPE1s81_M4v3QW0mIFfCapBb–rePZ3dsWZVBRAactkUGj6Ws

2.  “Sneaky but technically true”- out of context quotes from scientists can lend false credibility.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-vaccine-astrazenec/exclusive-fda-widens-u-s-safety-inquiry-into-astrazeneca-coronavirus-vaccine-sources-idUSKBN26L3TA?fbclid=IwAR0dDrHT7XNxb0qLfUJr74HahSzfPcGtTFlZBQWrKwJZ5PO-AVsFFLij-VE

3. If you just read the headline…

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/04/908305074/bad-optics-or-something-more-moderna-executives-stock-sales-raise-concerns?fbclid=IwAR1KmLr8ePDWffb7swFzL5JlhKRDEv6yPoHH0K2YWY-03ZJwkS7W0epYjl4

Topic 2: kids, schools, and superspreading

Overview news story- trustworthy scientific study in Science Magazine

https://www.princeton.edu/news/2020/09/30/largest-covid-19-contact-tracing-study-date-finds-children-key-spread-evidence?fbclid=IwAR3EtOt1lPk9yPYoMf9n9NOerbvCFQMTRPPlCP41uVU68-iqXRkPsjLFnnY

News stories with misinformation 

  1.  https://www.vox.com/2020/11/15/21564488/covid-19-coronavirus-us-kids-schools-testing-education-remote?fbclid=IwAR1bM4B41C5bzB6Sh7LqiBVG5Lm-_OJxPKM4xPaLOC4s1t5yofkyOMCVVPk

2. False statement from NY governor, Andrew Cuomo:

“At three percent, the teachers, the parents, expect and agreed that the schools would close. What I’m saying is we’ve learned a lot since then and schools are actually the safe place,” Cuomo said Monday, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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