COVID-19 virus (file photo).

COVID-19 virus (file photo).

OPINION: Those who spread conspiracy theories get too much attention

As the fourth wave of this insidious global pandemic is upon us, the voices of dissent get louder.

But just as we don’t compare apples and oranges, we should be careful not to pay too much attention to those spreading disinformation, sharing misinformation, or otherwise spouting opinions based on false premises and lies.

To those claiming they’ve done their own “research” while providing links to dark corners of the internet, no, your opinion is not as valid as that of experts in the medical field.

This week has not been a good one for COVID-19. Several weeks ago we hoped we would be entering step 4 of the province’s reopening plan by now.

Instead, this week, the province reinstated indoor mask wearing and announced vaccine passports for sports, movies, restaurants and other activities.

READ MORE: Proof of vaccination to be required for B.C. sports, movies, restaurants

At the same time, anyone on social media can’t help but have noticed the backlash of rage. Frustration is understandable as the world continues to try to keep the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus at bay. But the conspiracy theories being spread would be laughable if they weren’t dangerous, tricking many naive, vulnerable and uneducated people.

Back to my point at the outset of this column: anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy theorists might be loud and proud, but they are actually very small in number.

Before Premier John Horgan announced the so-called B.C. Vaccine Card this week, results from an Insights West poll found the vast majority – 79 per cent – of B.C. residents said they support the idea of double vaccinations to participate in many public activities.

It depends on the activity, but more than 80 per cent of respondents think vaccination proof should be required for flying or going to concerts. Sporting events: 79 per cent. Attending university: 77 per cent. Then there are the 68 per cent who say vaccine proof should be required for eating at a restaurant and 62 per cent for shopping at a mall.

Throwing around statistics is not always helpful, but comparisons help. Here’s one: In this staunchly federal Conservative riding of Chilliwack-Hope, Mark Strahl easily won the 2019 election with more than two-and-a-half times as many votes as the second-place finisher. Still, he only received 49.6 per cent of the votes cast. Yet close to 80 per cent of British Columbians accept the concept of vaccine passports.

Eighty per cent of people rarely agree on anything.

“As the fourth wave is upon us in Canada, there seems to be a growing divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in our country,” Insights West president Steve Mossop said in a press release accompanying the poll results. “There seems to be increasing pressure on our politicians and lawmakers to protect the growing COVID-19 wave by imposing rules around the requirement for double-vaccinations, and our poll shows overwhelming support for the direction this is moving.

“Unfortunately though, opinions are very polarized between the two groups, and there seems to be increasing conflict and division between the two sides.”

Polarized indeed, but calling it “two groups” over-simplifies, and gives too much credence to those spreading disinformation and those tricked by it.

Remember, this is the vast majority of us disagreeing with a very small minority who refuse to accept the findings of health scientists, doctors, medical professionals and the politicians who follow their advice to create policy to try protect us all.

And while my point is that we should stop paying too much attention to the “COVID-is-a-hoax” crowd as they selfishly squeal from the rooftops, I get the irony that I’ve just given them too much attention in this column. Sorry.

Just know there will always be a tiny minority with odious views, and the amount of attention they receive should be directly related to their grasp on reality.

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