The Prebunking Health Misinformation Trope Could Stop Their Spread
The scene will come to focus: A car is driving on a winding mountain road at night. Suddenly, the lights came on, then went black. The car stopped dead. Only Moonlight is left for our star, owl chirps, and obscure destructive music playing in the background.
You know things are about to go south because, as TVTropes.com says, “only three things happen when you travel to a horror movie,” and they all have nervousness. When you get out of our star’s car, you might be tempted to shout “Don’t Go to the woods! “because nothing good comes from going into the woods at night. But he did, of course. There, he saw an Abandoned Log Cabin. You can write the rest of the story yourself.
In later times, such tropics will become more predictable. Their cognitive ability is used for many purposes. Just as movie, song, and TV historians use tropes to make stories more understandable and believable and, later, to entertain us, disinformation purveyors use the same tropics to better understand or comprehend their arguments and, ultimately, to our detriment. Knowing this, we can get away with most of us in the woods.
You’ve probably seen a lot of tropes in online memes and stories about Covid-19. The anti-vaccine movement has relied on the same design devices for more than a hundred years to make familiar and compelling unsubstantiated claims.
In 2012, Anna Kata, an economist at McMaster University, wrote a paper trace how to change the same tropes, no matter what the vaccine, in the anti-vaccine conversation online. For example, consider the widespread claim that “vaccines are not natural.” Afterwards, a sub-claim: “They’ll make you a chimera.” In the 1800s, those inoculated with small-bultox vaccines derived from cowpox could become human-cow hybrids. (They don’t.) Now, social media influencers are talking about mRNA vaccines that “change our DNA !!!” (They are not.) The details have been changed to fit the current pandemic, but the underlying tropes are the same in 2021 as they were in 1801.
This “unnatural” trope is a fundamental building block in an even more numerous, misleading account that “vaccines are dangerous.” As scholars at the American University and Harvard School of Public Health, with a coauthor here, recently documented, erroneous anti-vaccine information about Covid-19 is similar to that of familiar tropics recycled from previous vaccines. Some conspired. Pandemic start month, for example, “Bioweapon” tropes everyone is angry. Anti-vaccine propagandists have often made these claims of the emergence of novel diseases (Ebola, SARS, etc.) because of the fear it has caused. The trope “disease as bioweapon” has been purchased because it requires being unknown – the origin of the disease – and offers a neat explanation with a seed of truth: Bioweapon programs have… and seen we also have the movie.
These building blocks – the tropics – also make proposals of conspiracy theory transferable to subjects. In the pandemic, for example, the main narrative of the anti -vaccine movement about vaccines causing all sorts of harm, and the government’s coverage of such harm, is similar to the QAnon activity, which itself absorbs and reframs narratives from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, chemtrail conspiracies, and New World Order theories, among others. These tropics are easily displaced because there is a common architecture of conspiracy theories. One reason why people who believe in one theory of conspiracy often believe others may be the same trope shared by many theories: the belief in The Man Behind the Curtain facilitated the purchase that Man also covers a chemtrails program. So if Jigsaw, that’s a Google content unit surfing threats to open up the unions, interviewed 70 conspiracy theorists, each of whom were handed several conspiracy theories.
If you’ve seen a trope once, you’ll probably recognize it the next. Familiar help can help short the circuit of critical thinking that we often use to analyze a new piece of information. Concentrating on this problem, tropes are good for raising complex issues, such as the origin of the vaccine or reasons to protest. As media literacy expert Mike Caulfield notes, tropes flat out a scene of its key fragments, stripping down the details to force us to jump to a conclusion (the heroine gets out of her car!) without all the facts happening.
But the fact that these manipulative tropes are so widespread and repetitive can also be devastating. If we know what tropes will be used to make conspiracy proposals in the future, it is possible that we will be able to figure it out. Instead of answering and examining the real claims reactive, what if we instead discuss their causes advance?