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We train future innovators how to unlearn, and imagine radical futures. Alternative X  Radical Innovation Lab utilizes cutting-edge, evidence-based, and scientific insights from psychology, cognitive sciences, behavioral economics, and social sciences to train radical innovation leaders.



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Why do people believe in fake news and conspiracy theories? 

A workshop on thinking patterns and psychological processes behind Covid-19 misinformation

What is covered in the workshop?  


This 2-hour online workshop will combine evidence-based research with interactive strategies to engage the participants and improve their analytical skills to counter Covid-19 misinformation.


  •  Defining fake news and conspiracy theories 

  • Classification of Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation  

  • Why do people believe in fake news and conspiracy theories?   

  • How to counter Covid-19 and vaccine misinformation?  

  • Behavioural insights for effective Covid-19 communication 


Misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories kill people. The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has warned the world that “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous”. Belief in misleading information and conspiracy theories has health implications: it erodes trust in scientists and governmental institutions, leads to decreased preventive behaviours and delayed treatment. Misperception about vaccines leads to the death of tens of thousands of people and threatens public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 9 out of 10 Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths occur among unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. The reported deaths from the pandemic passed 4.6 million in September 2021. However, misinformation and conspiracy theories about it are still widespread in the world. Australia is no exception: based on the latest survey by The University of Melbourne’s Vaccine Hesitancy Tracker on August 20, vaccine hesitancy remains well above 20% across Australia. A survey by The Guardian and YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project also indicates that 18 percent of Australians believe COVID-19’s fatality rate had been exaggerated; 23 percent think it was developed by some powerful forces in the business world; 21 percent expressed concern about the supposedly harmful effects of vaccines being kept under wraps; 33 percent are convinced a cabal of global elite is running the world; 13 percent think the moon landing was faked; and 20 percent consider global warming a hoax. 

Why are fake news and conspiracy theories so attractive? Why is it easier to believe in misleading information and a conspiracy theory rather than science? Misinformation and conspiracy theories resonate with human intuitive thinking and provide simple explanations and models to complex and multifaceted questions. Their narratives effectively communicate with evolutionarily hard-wired and automated patterns of thought and psychological processes that exist in all of us. In contrast, scientific and critical thinking requires analytical skills, the ability to process complexity, and openness to ambiguity all of which need effort, training, and education.  

This workshop aims to debunk thinking patterns underlying misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 and vaccines. The goal is to provide the participants with evidence-based research insights to understand the automated and involuntary impacts of exposure to misleading information. Further, the participants will be presented with a set of analytical tools to improve their skills in debunking and revealing misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories. 


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