Decmeber 15, 2016
Folklore, Rumors (or Rumours), Urban
Organized Misinformation Campaigns
Interfering with Development &
Aid/Relief Efforts, & Government Initiatives
(& how these are overcome)
There are lots of obstacles that can stand in the way of human, community
and institutional development, or government health initiatives, or even
elections, but there is one that rarely gets discussed: widespread
misunderstanding and myth-spreading. Folklore, rumors (or rumours) and urban
myths / urban legends, as well as organized misinformation campaigns,
often interfere with relief and development activities, and government
initiatives, including public health initiatives -- even bringing such to a
grinding halt. They create ongoing misunderstandings among communities and
cultures, prevent people from seeking help, encourage people to engage in
unhealthy and even dangerous practices, cultivate mistrust of people and
institutions, have even lead to mobs of people attacking someone or others
for no reason other than something they heard from a friend of a friend of a
friend, motivated legislators to introduce laws to address something that
doesn't exist, and influenced elections. And with the advent of social media
like Twitter and Facebook, as well as just text messaging among cell phones,
spreading misinformation is easier than ever.
Since 2004, I have been gathering and sharing both examples
of this phenomena, and recommendations on preventing
folklore, rumors and urban myths from interfering with development and
aid/relief efforts and government initiatives. I do this entirely on
my own, as a volunteer, with no funding from anyone. I update the information
as my free time allows.
Please note that I'm not interested in just urban legends but, specifically
misinformation that interferes with relief or development efforts or
government initiatives. This includes countries with conflict zones,
post-conflict countries, under-developed countries, and even donor
countries, like the USA. And most especially, I'm interested in ways
that such misinformation has been countered successfully. If you have
related information or examples,
please contact me.
What I'm also wondering: are their any efforts in developing and
transitional countries similar to the myth-busting Straight
Dope column by Cecil Adams in the USA? Or truthorfiction.com?
Or hoax-slayer.com? Or MythBusters?
If you know of such, please contact me.
If you are interested in updates to this section of my web site,
subscribe to my
blog. I blog about this subject frequently.
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