Deconstructing Disinformation

Throughout the pandemic, an array of contradictory information has been thrown at the American population. We are living in a political sphere that uses information not simply to inform but to advance ideologies. Specifically, we are part of an era where misinformation and disinformation are falsely recognized as the truth.

While “misinformation” is an inaccurate interpretation of information that may result from a lack of knowledge, “disinformation” is false information spread with the intent to confuse or deceive, often contradicting information that has already been proven. Ultimately, both have dangerous consequences.

In the beginning of the pandemic, as healthcare professionals adjusted to the novel situation, misinformation regarding mask-wearing, asymptomatic cases, and transmission of Covid-19 was frequent—though also somewhat expected. However, this is not to be confused with the disinformation that has also been widespread throughout the past several months: false speculations suggesting that Covid-19 was a manmade disease created in a lab in Wuhan; masks and social distancing being unnecessary safety measures; the suggesting of hydroxychloroquine and the injection of disinfectants. All of these instances and more have counteracted the public’s ability to protect their health.

As Andover prepares to welcome back Lowers and Uppers, doubling the current number of bodies on campus, it is more critical than ever for us to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Beyond following Andover’s health guidelines, which should be the bare minimum, we should also take steps to improve our news literacy. When reading or watching a segment of news, we should seek the potential sources of bias behind the words that may be presented as fact. We should always remember to interrogate the information we see and hear before accepting it as true. Who is presenting the information? How is it being used, and who is it really for? From recognizing specific buzzwords to understanding the fuller context behind any quote or “fact,” we can and must take action to help ourselves and others consume information in the most productive, honest way.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLIII