40 Percent Of Czechs Believe COVID-19 Related Hoaxes
According to a recent study, about 40% of Czech internet users believe conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. The most commonly believed myths are that the COVID-19 virus was created artificially in laboratories, or that the pandemic is being used intentionally by governments to control society. Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative photo.
Czech Rep., March 4 (BD) – According to recent research by the non-profit organization Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), about 40% of Czech internet users believe unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. The results were taken from a survey of 1,400 people carried out this year between January 20th and February 4th. The study found that a significant minority of Czechs believe that the COVID-19 virus was created artificially in laboratories, or that the pandemic is being intentionally used by governments as a way to control society. About 6% of those surveyed themselves contribute to the dissemination of conspiracy theories and information not confirmed by official sources. The distrust of official information is reflected in people’s adherence to basic anti-epidemic measures, although only 2.5% of respondents stated that they reject the basic measures of wearing masks and social distancing as a protest.
The results suggest that 40% of Czech internet users find some of the conspiracy theories about COVID-19 to be credible. About 10% of respondents believe in extreme misinformation, such as the claim that vaccination will lead to population control using microchips. A significant part of Czech society has doubts about whether the government has been clear enough about the side effects of vaccines. 36% suspect that Czech hospitals are exaggerating numbers of COVID-19 patients in order to obtain more funding. Half of respondents believe that the COVID-19 virus was artificially created in a laboratory. About 38% of respondents said they have lost confidence in government information about COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. On the other hand, over 70% said they trust the information shared by doctors and epidemiologists.
The aim of the study was to shed some light on public opinion, which can be useful for public institutions and organizations that share information related to the pandemic. The research was carried out in cooperation with the organization Transitions, which deals with media education, and with the support of the British Embassy in Prague and funding from NATO. “The level of misinformation in society is relatively high. The motivation of those in this group to follow the basic measures is low and not based on understanding the situation and clear beliefs, but rather on habit or social norms,” said Nikola Hořejš, the co-author of the research at STEM.