How to deal with "in your face" misinformation around Covid

So, today a co-worker (who actually reports up to me a few levels down) told me about a friend that died from Covid. But she didn’t blame the virus. She said the friend died from the treatment. She thinks that the ventilator & the remdesivir is what killed her friend…not the virus itself.

Her friend caught Covid a few years ago - before the vaccines were available - and complained of shortness of breath, and went into the hospital. The rest is history. The doctors tried to save her, but couldn’t.

I didn’t argue with my co-worker. The workplace isn’t meant for those types of discussions. I didn’t agree or disagree with her openly, even though I knew she was full of nonsense.

But it shocked me to come face-to-face with such self-assured nonsense. It’s strange to hear someone be so sure they’re right, when you know they’re 1000% wrong. I had to change the subject to keep a straight face. So, we started talking about work stuff again.

You’re probably better than me, I tend to explode at such people and start tearing apart their dumb unscientific “theories”.

Sadly this isn’t effective typically and doesn’t help me either.

My immediate response would be to ask them which medical professional was their source? Did a licensed physician tell them this? While they stammer to explain that a dear friend whom they trust told them, it puts them on the spot to provide an authoritative figure or other legitimate source of medical information, which they can’t. That should quickly end the discussion without having to be mean-spirited about it.

I think people construct very tight internal defenses against factual data when they want to believe something so, so much. It’s almost impossible to penetrate those defenses. Trying only frustrates those of us in the fact-based world.

A young man comes to do work for me around my place from time to time. He was raised in a very strict religious environment. He is active military, though only part- time. He struggles to parse information in a critical way. His religion and the military molded him into someone who takes information that comes from authority at face value. But for some reason, he likes talking with me.

Early in the pandemic, he teased me about my masking and getting vaccinated as soon as vaccines were available. I gently explained that science is all we have to battle a new disease, and while some of it might not be entirely correct, I trusted it beyond what right wing politicians were saying so would follow the guidelines.

A couple months later, his father came down with COVID and died. His dad was younger than me. Worse, his dad waited to go to the hospital. By the time he went, the family members were told he had waited too long and was beyond saving.

My young friend was devastated. He’s still dealing with the emotional repercussions of his cavalier attitude about COVID.

Nothing I ever said made any difference – but this traumatic event did. He and his whole family are now ardent vaccine advocates. I’m afraid that’s often the only thing that works. Everything else is just noise to them.

TL;dr, your co-worker is likely beyond your reach. You handled it the only way you could. If her friend dying before vaccines were available didn’t give her pause, nothing will.

How to deal with “in your face” misinformation around Covid

I put on my mask.

Well, I knew arguing with her was going to get me nowhere, and just make her angry. It jarred me a little. But I just felt like there was no point in getting into the science behind Covid & how it’s treated, etc. She’s beyond reach. Otherwise, she’s a good employee. Just horribly misinformed on this topic.

Yeah, I’m sure having his own father die made an impact. For some people though, it sends them even deeper into conspiracy-land. I’m glad your friend took the right lessons and was pro-vaccine. That’s a big thing. The anti-vaxx stuff cost a lot of lives.

@Aspenglow nailed it. And this applies to lots more than just COVID of course.

My take:

  1. If I’m in a position of authority over that individual my reaction is “That’s not pertinent to our work. Quit talking about it on company time and we’ll all be fine.”

  2. If it’s some rando stranger I’ll walk away, express disgust, or something in between. But trying to engage in a discussion about the topic is pointless.

  3. If it is a friend or relative try a variant of Door #1. If that doesn’t work (and it usually won’t) it’s Door #2. If that doesn’t work (and it usually won’t) they quickly become ex-friends or ex-relatives.

Life is too short to spend time engaging with delusional people. No matter how much they are or are not purely innocent victims of professional propaganda.

I’ve developed a philosophy – one that I frequently struggle to follow:

  • If people don’t ask my opinion, they really don’t want my opinion
  • If people do ask my opinion, they probably don’t actually want my opinion anyway :wink:

I might have simply replied to this cow orker with, “I’m so sorry about your friend.”

And … scene.

I think it’s more important to maintain a constructive relationship with a coworker than to attempt to persuade them in a situation like this. The odds of your succeeding in changing their mind are low, and the odds of damaging the work relationship are high.

I would offer condolences on the loss of the friend and try to change the subject. If that doesn’t work, I might even say that my opinions on medical treatment are different from theirs, and therefore we’d probably do best to not talk about that. I’d try (and probably fail) to keep the shocked expression off my face.

“I’m sorry? Are you implying you do not follow corporate COVID-19 policy and procedures?”

A far right client of mine’s wife died of Covid. For months, he would rail about how the doctors were idiots who killed her because they wouldn’t give her ivermectin.

When my father died last year of a sudden heart attack, I was talking to one of my clients that I actually like about it, he overheard and told me that it was the vaccine that killed him.

For some, tragedy opens their eyes. For others, it just makes them dig deeper.

Rereading your post, i guess I’d do exactly what you did, including

Right. I respect my co-worker in terms of work-related items. So, I just steered the conversation back to work. I wasn’t going to probe anymore on that topic or offer up my own view of the treatments and that the ventilator itself didn’t kill the other person.

At some point, I did offer condolences, too. I truly am sorry that other person passed away. The “covid” part of the conversation lasted about 3 or 4 minutes, mostly with her talking, me listening, and me plotting how to change the subject.

In a professional capacity, if a person reported to me (directly or indirectly) I would follow this:

  • say that you are sorry that her friend died, and if you need any support, please talk to me,
  • then say (in a friendly way). “We need to remain profesional about this, we are not medical professionals so we must all follow the guidelines and be careful to encourage everyone else to follow the guidelines.”

Then wrote down what you have said.

You cannot make them think differently. You cannot stop them talking in this way OUTSIDE of work. You may, legally, have difficulty stopping her saying these things to colleagues. But you have given her a friendly warning, which is always the starting point.

Because they may misrepresent what you said, I would do this in front of a witness.

I have had to do this in school with a teacher.

This seems like a good place to post this. It doesn’t merit a new thread.

I went to get my hair cut today, and my long-time hairdresser told me that she heard :roll_eyes: that the people who got the covid vaccine are now getting “real sick.”

I told her that was bullshit.

ETA. She meant sick from the vaccine, not sick with covid.

The lies and misinformation never end. You can try to kill it with facts, but it ambles on, a zombie lie eating people’s brains.

A top source for medical information (Natural News) assures us that “hundreds of thousands” of the fully vaccinated are dying every week. Where They are hiding all the bodies remains a mystery.

Remember that the criteria established by obituary ghouls to prove a person died from Covid vaccination are exquisitely specific:

  1. Someone died.

One good way to immunize yourself against virulent denialism, antivax hysteria and dogged stupidity regarding Covid is to avoid Twitter.

I mean, billions of people are fully vaccinated. If course a lot of them die every week. People are mortal.

So apparently YOU would be the one to “stammer to explain” when they tell you that they did, indeed, get that information from a person of authority.

You see, there are a few actual doctors who are spreading this nonsense. Exhibit A is Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who is a licensed D.O. I’m quite surprised that you have never heard of her.