The chaos which results from fear of a pandemic like the coronavirus is often more dangerous than the outbreak itself. In China, where the virus originated, fear has sparked irrational, mob-mentality thinking. Rumors of new cases, false information regarding contagion and cures, and bullying and harassment of people from Wuhan – the city at the center of the outbreak – have become rampant. This article urges people to curb their emotions and exercise critical thinking and common sense during this national emergency – a helpful reminder to everyone, not just those in the middle of a pandemic.
The Chinese internet abounds with rumors and fake news about the new coronavirus, feeding pubic confusion, anger and fear.
Since the novel coronavirus broke out in China, rumors and conspiracy theories about the disease have become common.
[Editors Note: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious viral respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as “novel coronavirus.” Reports in December 2019, from Wuhan, China, first cited the disease, which has spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic that affects people and businesses worldwide.]
Some say smoking will kill the virus or that firecrackers may stop its spread. Others believe the virus was created as a bioweapon – most likely a plot by the Americans. Fear and anger lead people to repost this type of information online without fact-checking. As the false ideas spread, they create mass confusion over what is factual and what is fake, and feed a dangerous mob mentality.
On January 30, 2020, the day the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency committee...