The Corona Virus pandemic has caused a number of issues to be raised, not so much to do with the medical side of things, but how information, social media and thinking interact to produce practical outcomes or not, public concensus or not and trust in leadership or not!

Today, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (btw someone living who allows an institute to be named after him?....) declared that, "...all governments must choose one of three undesirable outcomes: an overwhelmed health system, economic shutdown, or increased surveillance" but this is demonstrably wrong.

Not only is it a false choice - you could choose a blend of more than one of them, but it also creates the missing alternative fallacy. You don't have to choose any of the options and you could choose something else entirely like better testing or removing the lockdown in a more measured way.

This kind of stuff makes me angry because passions are high, livelihoods and lives are at stake and what we don't need is poorly thought-out or articulated information. The people at the institute are presumably intelligent but they either lack careful logic or they are so political that they don't care.

This is happening all over the place with all kinds of outlets.

A common problem is confirmation bias - people are hungry to find "experts" that agree with their viewpoint, becasue it makes us feel intelligent. We lean towards what we agree with and away from what we don't. This is a known problem and also extends to people who lean towards a view that has the same politics as ours even if we don't have a view on what the person is actually talking about.

Why do people believe David Icke talking about radio interference when it is based on nothing but opinion? Because people don't trust the establishment and neither does David Icke so my enemy's enemy is my friend - it must be true because his basis is that we cannot trust what the government says, of course they would lie because of a cover up.

The problem with conspiracy is that it can never be disproved. If you disprove it then you must be covering up! If one of your own disproves it then they have been corrupted.

So how do you deal with misinformation?

You need a number of things, none of which should be surprising, to gain a foothold over the more fringe views we seem to lap up.

You need credentials. No point having someone who is not a doctor talking about medical things or a non-eonomist talking about the economy. Even if you are right, if you aren't qualified, you are very easy to discard.

You need confidence. Not the confidence of an MP, estate agent or salesman who can make a hurricane sound like good news - but close! I have heard some experts speak who sound like they don't believe what they are saying. People smell it and interpret it as, "It is a lie so the opposite must be true".

You need evidence. Rather than just poo-pooing an idea like 5G causing corona virus, why not explain in a simple and non-patronising way, what Corona virus looks like, what electromagnetic radiation is and why it cannot create viruses.

You need empathy. People can be scared and God-forbid, some people are not intelligent. It doesn't take too much grace to articulate this to people and say, "I know you're scared, I know that using a mask sounds like an obvious thing to do, I understand that you are losing work but if we don't do this, we could lose 200,000 people. I don't know this number is correct, it is the best guess for now...."

You get the idea.

You would think that anyone who makes public statements would need training etc. to be able to do this. You would also think that briefings were written by people who write poetry and novels to make them read well, get to the point and balance information with conciseness.

You would think.