Canadian believers of COVID-19 misinformation rivals long-established conspiracy theories | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Canadian believers of COVID-19 misinformation rivals long-established conspiracy theories

May 01, 2021 - 2:30 PM

Canadian believers of COVID-19 conspiracy theories are about the same in numbers as those who believe Princess Diana was assassinated, conspiracies around former U.S. president John F. Kennedy and that a cure for cancer has been found.

According to a recent poll by Insights West, a market research company, 37% of Canadians believe COVID-19 was created in a lab and released by mistake, 31% believe COVID-19 was created as a biological weapon in a lab, 15% believe big pharma helped spread the virus, 9% believe the vaccine includes a chip that will track people and 6% believe there is a link between COVID-19 and 5G.

READ MORE: US nurses fight conspiracy theories along with coronavirus

Men are much more likely than women to believe in the top two theories (both 12 percentage points higher than for females). B.C. and English Quebec residents are also less likely to believe them relative to residents in other provinces.

Conservative voters in the last federal election are nearly twice as likely as Liberal and NDP voters to believe COVID-19 was created in a lab and escaped by mistake (44% Conservative voters, 29% Liberal voters, and 30% NDP voters) or as a biological weapon (38% Conservative voters, 21% Liberal voters, and 24% NDP voters), according to the Insights.

In comparison to the percentage of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, 36% believe Princess Diana was assassinated, 33% believe in JFK conspiracy theories, 31% believe a cure for cancer had been found but not released and 29% believe humans have been cloned, according to an Insights West press release.

“It is unfortunate that the pandemic has resulted in a wide array of conspiracies circulating that are believed by believed by a sizeable number of Canadians, not by a fringe alternative segment of society.” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, in the press release.

READ MORE: These Kamloops doctors leveraged the power of social media to curb COVID-19 misinformation

“The proliferation of these theories has been exacerbated by the shareability of these views on social media, which has elevated conspiracy theories to perhaps as high as it’s ever been in today’s world. I believe that the vaccine hesitancy that we are seeing in this country can be widely attributed to these swirling conspiracy theories, much to the detriment of stopping this virus.”

Image Credit: Insights West

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 31 to April 5 among a sample of 1,603 residents across Canada.

Conspiracy theories relating to the pandemic have been around for more than a year and a substantial minority of Canadians think there is truth in these theories, according to the company.

Other misinformation about COVID-19 is believed by a much smaller proportion of Canadians, including 15% who believe the pharmaceutical companies are involved in the spread of the virus. One-in-ten (9%) believe the vaccine includes a chip to track people (9%), and a small number (6%) that there is a connection between 5G internet and COVID-19.

There are also other questionable beliefs that some Canadians hold—including 53% believe UFOs exist. Fewer believe in the Ogopogo (17%) or the Sasquatch (18%), and an even smaller proportion (12%) believe the lunar landings were a hoax.


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