Conspiracy Theories hamper fight against Ebola

Gundersen

Senior Member.

...but the consequences of false beliefs in public health can be deadly.

In the developed world, myths about the risks of vaccines have enabled the resurgence of communicable diseases like measles and pertussis. And in developing countries, false beliefs have hindered efforts to fight H.I.V./AIDS and eradicate polio in countries like Nigeria and Pakistan.

The latest example of the dangers of health misinformation comes from Western Africa, where the response to an Ebola outbreak in four countries has been hampered by conspiracy theories about its causes and phony rumors about how to treat it. False beliefs may not be the biggest obstacle to containing the Ebola outbreak, but they make an awful situation worse.

People in the affected regions have become especially distrustful of doctors, with some suggesting the disease is a hoax. A resident of a heavily affected area in Liberia told The Wall Street Journal last week: “I’ve never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor.” These beliefs are often based on conspiracy theories that the disease was invented by national governments in search of international aid or political power.


A crowd protested before entering the grounds of an Ebola isolation center in Monrovia, Liberia, this month. A mob of several hundred people chanting "No Ebola in West Point" opened the gates and took out the patients, many saying that the Ebola epidemic was a hoax.

...

Raphael Frankfurter, an aid worker in eastern Sierra Leone, described hearing one woman saying about the hospital in Kenema: “Ebola is a lie! They’re sending people to Kenema to die!

...

Workers have also encountered conspiracy theories that Ebola was brought to the region by Westerners.

In addition, false claims are circulating about how to treat the disease. The World Health Organization issued a statement warning people against unproven treatments or supposed preventive measures, such as drinking salt water, which has reportedly killed several people in Nigeria.

...

In seeking to understand and address misconceptions about Ebola, it’s especially important to avoid the victim-blaming impulse, which may be exacerbated by negative Western stereotypes about African culture, as Mr. Frankfurter notes. Anyone facing such a terrifying outbreak would be panicked, distrustful of outsiders bearing a potential death sentence, and eager for any shred of hope.

In particular, research suggests that conspiracy theories can be psychologically reassuring in situations like this — seeing conspiracies in randomness or attributing negative events to enemies can restore feelings of control when people encounter unpredictable threats. Until we can help people feel as if the situation is coming under control, we shouldn’t be surprised if they try to regain psychological equilibrium however they can.

...

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qed

Senior Member
I read the article earlier and did not post it here because I could find no actual conspiracy theory anywhere in the article (besides the title):oops:. "A resident".
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
I read the article earlier and did not post it here because I could find no actual conspiracy theory anywhere in the article (besides the title):oops:. "A resident".


How is this not an actual conspiracy theory?

some suggesting the disease is a hoax. A resident of a heavily affected area in Liberia told The Wall Street Journal last week: “I’ve never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor.” These beliefs are often based on conspiracy theories that the disease was invented by national governments in search of international aid or political power.
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qed

Senior Member
How is this not an actual conspiracy theory?

some suggesting the disease is a hoax. A resident of a heavily affected area in Liberia told The Wall Street Journal last week: “I’ve never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor.” These beliefs are often based on conspiracy theories that the disease was invented by national governments in search of international aid or political power.
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The bull#### statement "These beliefs are often based on conspiracy theories that the disease was invented by national governments in search of international aid or political power." does not follow from the alleged quote "“I’ve never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor." which is a TRUE STATEMENT.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
The bull#### statement "These beliefs are often based on conspiracy theories that the disease was invented by national governments in search of international aid or political power." does not follow from the alleged quote "“I’ve never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor." which is a TRUE STATEMENT.

So, since you haven't seen anyone die of Ebola you think its just a rumour?

You stated you couldn't find any conspiracy theories in the article. One was mentioned. That you do not think it logically correlates to a random quote is a different topic.
 

qed

Senior Member
Let me get you right.
So, since you haven't seen anyone die of Ebola you think its just a rumour?

From the single un-contextualised statement "I've never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor." your feel that there is a conspiracy theory on the loose in Africa that is hampering the management of Ebola? You feel the evidence warrants the claim of the article?

Personally, when I read the article, I concluded that it was valueless, and hence did not bother posting it here.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Let me get you right.


From the single un-contextualised statement "I've never seen anybody die of Ebola. I’ve only heard of it. So it’s a rumor." your feel that there is a conspiracy theory on the loose in Africa that is hampering the management of Ebola? You feel the evidence warrants the claim of the article?

Personally, when I read the article, I concluded that it was valueless, and hence did not bother posting it here.

The article is about the harm conspiracy theories are doing to people dealing with Ebola in Africa. It seems like a perfectly reasonable article. Your opposition to it makes it seem like you read a different article.
 

qed

Senior Member
I accept the harm conspiracy theories cause. But, from what I hear, there just is not this Ebola conspiracy theory running loose the way Chemtrails or 9-11 runs loose in your country. People know Ebola kills and are terrified.

It is
as Mr. Frankfurter notes. Anyone facing such a terrifying outbreak would be panicked, distrustful of outsiders bearing a potential death sentence, and eager for any shred of hope.
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rather than a conspiracy theory as we are used to it on this forum. The communication networks are simple not established for a meme to spread that way. I feel the "journalist" has made a leap that is not warranted. I feel he does not have the evidence to really back up what he is saying, and I even question why he is saying it.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
and I even question why he is saying it.
Because conspiracy theories that say something that is real is not, or that persuade people to not get treatment, are harmful; seems simple.
Are you suggesting conspiracy theories have no consequence in cases like these?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
But, from what I hear, there just is not this Ebola conspiracy theory running loose the way Chemtrails or 9-11 runs loose in your country. People know Ebola kills and are terrified.

All people? Have you been talking to all the people in West Point, Monrovia? Are you sure there's no conspiracy theories circulating there, creating problem?
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Here's a slightly different example of irrational beliefs being a problem -
A British doctor fighting the devastating Ebola outbreak in west Africa has told how belief in witchcraft is hampering the fight to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
Benjamin Black, 32, a volunteer with the charity Médecins Sans Frontières in Sierra Leone, said that some of those in infected areas were not seeking medical treatment as they thought the disease was the work of sorcerers.
...

Another problem, he added, was that the medics’ spaceman-like attire frightened locals. In neighbouring Guinea, some village chiefs have barred medics from entering, claiming that they are actually spreading the disease. Other teams of doctors have been threatened by mobs with machetes.

“Many patients who come to us are already very sick by the time they do so, and so often all people see at the clinic is a doctor sticking a needle in someone for a blood test and then them dying shortly afterwards,” said Dr Black.

“That becomes a conspiracy theory that we are actually injecting them with something that kills them. There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in terms of education on all this, otherwise this epidemic is just going to continue.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...elief-in-witchcraft-warns-British-doctor.html
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KAT

Active Member
Superstitions, especially in cultures where these are widespread, do not equal conspiracy theories.
Witchcraft is as good an explanation as any for something nasty of unknown cause, in places where witchcraft is believed to exist. Or evil spirits ditto.
Government nastiness is not a bad guess, either, in places where hospitals are run by the government and nearly everyone who goes to hospital ends up dead, even though it may be only because only the desperately ill go to hospital.
 

qed

Senior Member
Here is a real African Ebola conspiracy theorist where I would expect to find one (online "newspapers" and blogs). http://dailypost.ng/2014/08/24/femi-fani-kayode-ameyo-adadevoh-ebola-conspiracy/
In an essay titled ”A Virus Called Ebola and the Secret Club From Hell” (Premium Times, 17th August 2014) I wrote that Patrick Sawyer, the American/Liberian that brought the ebola virus to Nigeria ”was an evil man with an evil intention and purpose”. I went further by writing that: ”worst still he was not working alone. Some people, and I mean rich, powerful and well-connected people, were working with him. As a matter of fact they sent him on the mission”.
I stand by those words and I maintain, as I argued in that essay, that there is an ”Illuminati” connection to the whole ebola episode. I urge those that are skeptical about this and that have not read that write-up to google it and do so.
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JRBids

Senior Member.
You may expect to find conspiracy theories on the net, but before the net existed there were still conspiracy theories. Believing the disease is a hoax, or spread by the government, or that people are sent to isolation stations in order to die are conspiracy theories, whether or not they include an element of witchcraft or superstition. Urban Legends are conspiracy theories that went around by word of mouth pre internet.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
False.

Not once is the word "conspiracy" mentioned in the Wikipedia article on urban legends.
The lack of mention doesn't really prove the assertion false.
I would say sometimes urban legends involve conspiracy theories, but not all UL's are CT's.
Are myths about the disease the same as a conspiracy theory?

Depends on the specifics. If it involves authoritarian malfeasance in some way, then yes.
 

qed

Senior Member
You are correct and I am wrong. There is evidence in the article that people latched onto conspiracy theories.

From the original sources.


The two fundamental components of the national response—rapid isolation and quick transfers to Kenema hospital—had unexpectedly induced a panic that ultimately contributed to the disease spiraling out of control.

The rumors proliferated. In Kono, in early July, I received a call from one of our staff in town that I shouldn’t meet him for lunch as we had planned. A rumor had spread through town that two children had died after receiving routine vaccines during a national in-school vaccination campaign. The entire city descended into panic. In the waiting area of our women’s center, a woman yelled into her cellphone. “Go pick up Kumba! They’re injecting Ebola and killing patients!” In Kailahun, Ebola continued to spread as villagers reportedlystoned health workers. Ambulance drivers described youth building ditches toprevent them from entering into communities where the nurses had reported Ebola patients, and in another village a medical store was burned to the ground
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the atlantic

Despite a rising death toll, many of Liberia's residents are convinced that the virus is a government conspiracy. "It's a rumor," said Patrick Brandy, an electrician in Dolo Town, one of the nation's hardest-hit communities. "I've never seen anybody die of Ebola. I've only heard of it. So it's a rumor."
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wall street journal


Doctors and nurses are not only fighting the disease, but a deep mistrust in communities often in the thrall of wild rumours that the virus was invented by the West or is a hoax.

"They broke down the door and looted the place. The patients have all gone," said Rebecca Wesseh, who witnessed the raid in the Liberian capital's densely populated West Point slum.

The attackers, mostly young men armed with clubs, shouted insults about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and yelled "there's no Ebola," she said, adding that nurses had also fled the centre.

...

In Monrovia, residents had opposed the creation of the quarantine centre, set up by health authorities in a part of the capital seen as an epicentre of the Ebola outbreak.

"We told them not to (build) their camp here. They didn't listen to us," said a young resident, who declined to give his name. "This Ebola business, we don't believe it."

...
Former Sierra Leone youth and education minister Lansana Nyallah, who lost nine of his family to the virus, tried to address myths about it head on, saying: "To those who still believe that Ebola does not exist, please take heed."
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AFP
 

qed

Senior Member
Yet again on Thursday.


A crowd of young men, some armed with clubs and knives, set up barricades across Nzerekore on Thursday and threatened to attack the hospital before security forces moved in to restore order. Gunshots were fired and several people were injured, said Youssouf Traore, president of the Guinean Red Cross.

"A rumour, which was totally false, spread that we had sprayed the market in order to transmit the virus to locals," Traore said. "People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to intervene."

Local Red Cross workers had to flee to the military camp with their medical equipment.
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Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea

There clearly is an "instinctual" psychology behind the immediate inventing of a conspiracy theory in the face of horror and powerlessness.
 

Bill

Senior Member.
Maybe not, but as an example I would use the urban legend about people who supposedly woke up with one kidney cause someone stole it cause "they" are stealing organs. That IMO is a conspiracy theory.
But where do you find the conspiracy in the the story of the lady with the spider eggs in her wig, the killer in the closet or car with the JATOs attached to the roof that drives into a cliff face? Urban Legends are much more encompassing than conspiracy theories. I think the headline of the original article is misleading and chose to use the term conspiracy theories because it is much more attention getting than just saying misinformation or myths. The first paragraph is a more honest approach the topic:
Misinformation about politics may often seem silly — the immigration bill will give out free cars! — but the consequences of false beliefs in public health can be deadly.
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NoParty

Senior Member.
As much fun as the media's (esp. one or two cable channels...wink wink, nudge nudge) attempt to
scare the Hell out of Americans with the threat of Ebola running rampant across the country was...

I think the release of the last guy in America (Craig Spencer) who had Ebola is past it
(meaning 0 Americans dead) might be a good time to put to rest the mass "Ebola in U.S." scare.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/eb...ola-patient-cured-dr-craig-spencer-be-n245586
http://www.newser.com/story/198475/last-us-ebola-patient-free-of-the-disease.html
 
J

Joe

Guest
There are plenty of CT going around in Liberia and have only made things worse in Liebria @7:00 conspiracy theories in Liberia
 
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