Sunday, October 25, 2020

Eight Persistent COVID-19 Myths and Why People Believe Them

Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis – Marcella AlsanLuca BraghieriSarah EichmeyerMinjeong Joyce KimStefanie StantchevaDavid Y. Yang  NBER Working Paper No. 27972 Issued in October 2020. NBER Program(s): Health EconomicsPublic EconomicsPolitical Economy

“The respect for and protection of civil liberties are one of the fundamental roles of the state, and many consider civil liberties as sacred and “nontradable.” Using cross-country representative surveys that cover 15 countries and over 370,000 respondents, we study whether and the extent to which citizens are willing to trade off civil liberties during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the largest crises in recent history. We find four main results. First, many around the world reveal a clear willingness to trade off civil liberties for improved public health conditions. Second, consistent across countries, exposure to health risks is associated with citizens’ greater willingness to trade off civil liberties, though individuals who are more economically disadvantaged are less willing to do so. Third, attitudes concerning such trade-offs are elastic to information. Fourth, we document a gradual decline and then plateau in citizens’ overall willingness to sacrifice rights and freedom as the pandemic progresses, though the underlying correlation between individuals’ worry about health and their attitudes over the trade-offs has been remarkably constant. Our results suggest that citizens do not view civil liberties as sacred values; rather, they are willing to trade off civil liberties more or less readily, at least in the short-run, depending on their own circumstances and information.”

Scientific American – Eight Persistent COVID-19 Myths and Why People Believe Them / From a human-made virus to vaccine conspiracy theories, we rounded up the most insidious false claims about the pandemic. Because the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan, China, President Donald Trump and others have claimed, without evidence, that it started in a lab there, and some conspiracy theorists believe it was engineered as a bioweapon….Since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has lied about the disease’s severity, saying it is no more dangerous than seasonal influenzaTrump himself admitted to journalist and author Bob Woodward in recorded interviews in early February and late March that he knew COVID-19 was more deadly than the flu and that he wanted to play down its severity…”

OUPBlog: “The concept of a socially distanced library would be considered the ultimate antithesis of the modern-day library. The past two decades have witnessed the evolution of the library from a mostly traditional space of quiet study and research into a bustling collaborative, social space and technology center. The library has been described as a third place, the home constituting the first place, work as the second place, and then the library—where in addition to research and study, the user can do virtually most things including relax, eat in a library cafe, and even exercise. Public libraries have provided many community benefits, including health and government services, as well as loans of non-traditional items such as tools and equipment.

In 2020, the entire world was thrown into a state of confoundment, as the novel coronavirus ground routine day-to-day activities to a screeching halt. Many organizations, including academic institutions in the United States, made a hasty retreat into an exclusively virtual online environment. Libraries followed suit and most were firmly shut, as was the corresponding access to library stacks, study, and collaborative spaces. This was also the case with public libraries; even the Library of Congress shuttered its physical facilities to the public. How did libraries initially respond to this massive disruption and how would connections to library users be maintained in this new and unprecedented context?…”