There's a new virus in town.
Rampantly infecting those it comes into contact with and spreads like butter on freshly toasted sourdough.
Are we talking about the coronavirus?
A more sinister plague is having its golden age now, with the internet its chosen playground.
We are speaking of the Dunning Kruger Effect (DKE).
The DKE is alive and well, flourishing from newsfeed to the next polluting the minds of the anxious and diluting the important messages from health authorities.
In regards to the coronavirus outbreak, the DKE has proved disastrous.
In a nutshell, the DKE is a psychological phenomenon where a person cannot fathom their lack of ability.
Or to put it mildly, when incompetent people are too incompetent to realise they're incompetent.
The drunk guy at the bar begging for fisticuffs who most likely cant fight his way out of a tight turtleneck?
The old sceptic saying the coronavirus is the same as seasonal flu?
You guessed it, classic DKE.
In the world of social media, there is no need for a scientific retraction and virtually no repercussions for misleading or flat-out poor science.
What most outlets will do is drop the latest fear-mongering headline, let it circulate and then delete it when/if any flack arrives or merely edit the title and contents.
This perpetuates fear and irrational claims created from a poor media attempt at generating sensationalised news.
The current toilet paper fiasco.
But how do we know where to get information from?
Straight out of the gate, you need to quarantine where you guys are getting your information from.
How much have you seen blown out of proportion statements to the effect of "We're all going to die!" or some equally moronic notion that there's nothing to worry about, the virus is "just the flu"?
We bet a lot.
Start unfollowing these now whether they're news outlets, pages or just friends.
At the very least do not perpetuate or quote them.
We're calling this Social Media Distancing...
We want you to weigh up how many of them are coming from legitimate health sources with no bias one way or the other.
Now weigh up how many are coming from media outlets.
Again, weigh up how many are coming from friends and family or shared by those online.
What you are experiencing is the DKE going full force with the added benefit of feeding misinterpreted information through the grapevine.
How do you know you've contracted DKE?
Most folks who contract DKE show signs of interrupting others, possibly even complete strangers, within the first few days of exposure to terms such as "epidemiology" and "exponential infection rate".
The most readily seen symptoms of DKE include but aren't limited to:
- Making bold claims about the entire coronavirus issue in one sentence or less.
- Creating charts and graphs to post on social media, possibly in crayon.
The majority of the DKE infected appear to have menial jobs that induce a type of distrust and distaste for anyone and everyone who they might perceive as an authority figure.
This may include health organisations, scientists, or basic rational people who might say something like "Are you sure you know what you're talking about?" or "Can I see where you read this?".
In such cases, the individual may feel inferior and their advanced case of DKE will not allow them to receive information that conflicts with their confirmation bias.
These cases are very extreme and can be some of the loudest and most irrational.
The more that lockdown and potential quarantine situations occur, the more these people will have access to the internet and will continue to propagate misinformation.
What can you do to flatten the DKE curve?
- Turn your phone on silent for a minimum of 2 weeks.
- Uninstall social media apps.
- Minimum 2 weeks Social Media Distancing from proponents of the DKE agenda.
- If headlines appear spicy and fearful, close laptop or exit app.
- Read a book.
- Read a book about epidemiology
- Read a book about epidemiology and then don't share what you find on social media.
- Share unbiased science from outlets with no political agenda.
- Check author qualifications.
- Follow the World Health Organisation, The Conversation, and possibly the Onion for advice and a laugh.
It's up to YOU to help flatten the curve.