Karolína Bánomová: Saste Roma – Info pal o koronavirus can be trusted about COVID-19, ignore the brainwashing conspiracy theories
The virus that causes the disease COVID-19 is a genuinely new type of coronavirus. Scientists have been researching it for just four or five months, which is why they are unable to answer all of the questions we have about it - they are far from having all the answers yet.
The basic facts, however, are agreed on by all scientists at reputable universities and by all doctors at renowned hospitals. Such institutions and their accumulated knowledge is what we all rely on when we need to be examined by medical professionals in accordance with the findings of science.
We need this knowledge to survive anything from diabetes to a burst appendix - not so somebody can make money on our illnesses. Currently these doctors and scientists are unanimously warning us against exposing ourselves to the novel coronavirus.
The disseminators of conspiracy theories know exactly how to produce an apparently credible article or video. They will use an old photo or numerical data that has no logical association with their claims and add that material to an article because it helps them influence readers' minds.
For example, they will take an old video that was originally meant to inform the public about the importance of vaccination (for example, an interview with Bill Gates), and use just the part that exactly fits their conspiracy theory, doing their best to demonstrate the alleged "truth" of their theory to the public by doing so. They know visualization (whatever can be seen) is one of the most influential factors influencing the human mind.
Psychologists explain the current phenomenon of even clever, educated people falling for conspiracies as due to the fact that the more an allegation appears in the media, including on the Internet, then the more people will believe it. The more the same allegation repeatedly appears before people's eyes, then the more it seems to be true, and it becomes absolutely irrelevant to them who authored and published the allegation.
Conspiracy theoreticians have a comfortable answer to everything for all of us: They justify all their claims by saying that somebody else shared the allegations with them, and in that case we no longer feel the need to look for a credible source of information on our own. It is sad that most leaders are dedicating so little attention to this issue today.
Romani people have a tendency to mainly ask their family members or others whom they know and trust for "the truth" about the novel coronavirus. I am reflecting on the degree to which the elite members of the Romani community are aware that during this crisis, it is necessary to inform Romani people about how dangerous these conspiracy theories about COVID-19 can be.
This is about human lives being at stake, not about popularity or scoring political points. Nobody knows yet when and how the second (or third, or fourth) wave of infection will arrive in our populations.
In this context, some of us felt an obligation to establish a group of volunteers on Facebook called Saste Roma – Info pal o koronavirus. Among other sources of information, we are drawing from the website www.covid19vuk.org, which was created by the Romani web designer Kamila Plachetková to combat disinformation, and it uses only scientifically-verified sources.
The members of our group live in Canada, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, the USA and other countries. Each of us has had the personal experience of being contacted by acquaintances, friends, relatives, and now by Romani people whom we don't know at all with questions about whom to believe today about COVID-19.
Many Romani people apparently do not know where and how to find out the truth about the novel coronavirus. Social media is overflowing with conspiracy theories, and it is exactly because Romani people are seeing these fictional messages fly around Facebook and YouTube in such numbers that they frequently believe they are true.
For these Romani people, just as for many people around the globe, Facebook or YouTube is their main source of information. When ideas flow smoothly, people have a tendency to agree with them, and unfortunately, the current conspiracy theories feed on that fact.
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- Slovakia: Three Romani communities in Krompachy out of COVID-19 quarantine, movement restrictions only remain in Žehra
- Slovak PM says local Roma who completed COVID-19 quarantine are role models for the country
- Petra Gelbart: COVID-19 can quickly get out of hand and spread to those who believe they are immune
- Amnesty International criticizes closures of Romani settlements in Bulgaria and Slovakia as part of COVID-19 response
- Bulgaria: Educational assistants on the front line help Romani children during COVID-19 crisis
- Greece approves crisis fund for Romani settlements during COVID-19
- Adriana Kotlárová, educator at school with many Romani pupils: Families have no Internet access, personal contact unavoidable even during COVID-19
- Czech Foreign Affairs Minister tells ROMEA TV that Brexit and COVID-19 are causing problems for UK residents hoping to return
- Associated Press: Holocaust survivors reminded of WWII by COVID-19 pandemic
- Czech Interior Ministry centre refutes most frequent disinformation about COVID-19 online
- Slovak Government says COVID-19 has been confirmed in 14 Romani settlements
- Slovak NGOs respond to PM, allege Romani settlement closures will accelerate spread of COVID-19
- Slovak PM harshly attacks critics of Govt approach to COVID-19 in Romani settlements, says measures are life-saving
- Romani woman on the front lines of COVID-19: Interview with a nurse in the Czech capital
- Slovakia: At-home quarantine not functional in Romani-inhabited settlements, COVID-19 infected persons to be taken to state-run facilities
- Interview with Romani man in Czech Republic recovering from COVID-19: This was not like the flu
- Slovak NGOs call on Government to stop discriminating against Romani people in the context of testing for COVID-19 and closing settlements
- Slovakia: Five Romani-inhabited settlements are being closed for quarantine, 30+ COVID-19 infected persons found so far
- Romani musician in Czech Republic regrets believing COVID-19 was fake now that he's had it
- Conspiracy theorists, disinformation followers and football hooligans to protest Czech Govt COVID-19 measures tomorrow in Prague
- Civil society skeptical as to whether EU Member States will align with European Commission's 10-year Roma Strategy
- Facebook will delete posts denying or distorting the Holocaust, ignorance of it among youth one reason
- European Commission VP Věra Jourová: Not enough was done during the last decade for Roma, the EC is launching a new 10-year plan
- Commentary: What are the Romani candidates running for the fascists in the Czech Republic thinking?
- Romani candidate in Czech regional elections says politicians don't have to be corrupt
- COMMENTARY: Romani actors should refuse to perpetuate stereotypes in Czech television programs
- Commentary: Czech journalists stoke hatred of Romani people to distract from failed pandemic response
- Czech capital to see new Center for the Roma and Sinti, meant to serve the general public
- Commentary: The Czech and Slovak Romani community on the battlefield that is Facebook
- Czech MP publishes long-refuted fake video purporting to show "refugees" attacking a police vehicle