The Return of Measles Is a Failure of Communication

At its core, the resurgence of the once-defeated disease in the U.S. is a failure of communication. And the major problem is that with conspiracy theories, facts don't matter — especially online.

Research suggests that the reason informed people fall into conspiracy-theory mindsets often has less to do with a lack of information than with social and emotional alignment. Facts are necessary, but not at all sufficient. Websites and YouTube videos where a federal employee in a suit states various statistics are unlikely to be effective against targeted disinformation campaigns that only need to plant the seed of doubt in the mind of people already skeptical of the medical establishment. The work of global inoculation requires first rebuilding a social contract, which means meeting people on the platforms where they now get their information, in the ways they now consume it.


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