It's no secret that I try to follow skeptical way of thinking in my own endeavors on line and in real life. Given the amount of misinformation and fake news (real fake news) that is bombarding our consciousness daily from all the feeds in social media, the ability to filter out that junk and try to stay sane and reasonable is extremely important.
Last year and the COVID-19 pandemic have just added to the insane amount of pure crap that can be fed to us every day, mostly from our own friends sharing weird, unverified, untrue and plain stupid stories. It also gave us a unique insight into their minds and ow easily some of them departed reality to land in the world of conspiracies and un-reality.
We all have also seen that this kind of mindset can have profound impacts on our politics (democracy even), daily lives and health. In the world full of reality and rational thinking, the pandemic would most likely be much less deadly and the politics much less stressful and hateful. Instead, we have the world where many deny the most basic facts, promote the weirdest ideas and theories, and are ready to underwrite tyrants and dictators, just to ensure their pet theory is vindicated.
This great article from Science-Based Medicine Blog underscores the issue above when it comes to the link between conspiratory thinking and medicine that we all desperately need to be well grounded in reality:
There is also a more focused article on vaccines on the same blog:
My own experience of the last year (I know, it's just an anecdote, not real data) agrees 100% with the articles above. Those in my small circle of friends (on line and off) that have been engaged for years in science denial on much smaller scale by fighting flu vaccines, selling weird and unproven remedies through various pyramid schemes and generally disagreeing with scientific knowledge, abandoned the world of reality this year. They joined hateful opposition to mask usage, denied the whole pandemic completely and then drifted full force into Q-Anon conspiracy, expressing more and more hateful views on line and in real life. Their complete lack of boundaries and readiness to attack even their close friends just for pointing out easily verifiable facts have proven to me how dangerous those conspiracy theories are. They can't be dismissed as "harmless" on line hobbies anymore and their main source - social media - must be held accountable.