U of G Expert Talks Public Trust and Conspiracy Theories During Pandemic


Prof. Maya Goldenberg

Why are conspiracy theories that the coronavirus pandemic was planned and that the virus was developed in a laboratory gaining traction without scientific evidence to support the theories?

University of Guelph Prof. Maya Goldenberg said people are drawn to conspiracy theories because we live in a fear-filled climate with uncertainty and unknowns about the COVID-19 virus.

She also said health officials and governments worldwide are continually adjusting their responses to the pandemic by introducing new policies to prevent the virus from spreading. The constant change creates a sense of insecurity and anxiety among the public, she said.

She was featured in a CTVNews.ca story discussing the topic of the pandemic and conspiracy theories.

The philosophy professor and expert in public trust said Canadians initially put their trust in experts, accepting the shelter-in-place directives that unrolled in March — thanks in part to the easily understood messaging of “flatten the curve.”

However, the “stay home” directives have extended longer than many had expected and “the initial solidarity has, predictably, worn thin,” Goldenberg said, particularly because each province is taking a different approach to lifting those restrictions.