Homeroom Thinking Exercise Teaching & Learning with Dr. JellSoL
Students have to learn how to evaluate online information they access and peruse for different reasons. This activity is a quick exercise supporting two PSHS Learner’s Profile Attributes: being Inquirers and Thinkers.
Students all stand in the middle of the classroom. Before reading the statements from WHO and Vox below, the homeroom teacher chooses the side where students have to move if they think the statement read is a fact or the opposite side if it is fiction. The homeroom teacher reads the statements twice. After s/he reads the statement the second time, s/he says “Fact or Fiction” to signal the students to make a choice and move to the side reflecting their response. The class is given 30 seconds to decide. Staying in the middle to say “maybe” is not permitted. Before stating the answer, the homeroom teacher reads the explanation. Students move back to the center area to get ready for the next statement.
(1) FACT: Cold weather and snow cannot kill the new coronavirus. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
(2) FICTION: The novel coronavirus sickness is caused by 5G. One premise is that 5G technology can weaken the immune system and make the common cold more virulent. Another promotes the idea that the 5G technology itself is causing the symptoms that have been attributed to the novel coronavirus. One version of the theory pushes the idea that the technology absorbs oxygen in the lungs, which “causes coronavirus.” That idea has been flagged false by a UK-based third-party fact-checker, called Full Fact that works with Facebook. There’s no evidence that 5G impacts the immune system, and no proof that it has any link to the novel coronavirus.
(3) FICTION: There’s a plot to “exterminate” people infected with the new coronavirus. Some individuals have floated the claim that China sought permission from the country’s Supreme Court to kill people infected with the novel coronavirus. Several fact-checkers, including Snopes, have determined these reports to be false and to have originated from a website with several “red flags.”
(4) FACT: Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease. Taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
(5) FACT: The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 cases. Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.
(6) FICTION: Scientists have proven that humans got the novel coronavirus from eating bats. BuzzFeed reported that a prominent video about the novel coronavirus in Hindi that’s attracted more than 13 million amplified the claim that eating bats caused the coronavirus outbreak. There is no evidence that eating bats caused the coronavirus outbreak. Jonathan Epstein, a veterinarian and an epidemiologist EcoHealth Alliance, told Vox earlier this month that it’s “still not known” whether this outbreak started with bats at an animal market.
(7) FICTION: Scientists predicted the virus will kill 65 million people. “We modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction,” the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said in a statement. “We are not predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people.”
(8) FICTION: China built a biological weapon that was leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Experts have told the Washington Post that there’s no evidence to support it. The lab itself said in a statement that misinformation had “caused severe damage to our researchers who have been dedicated to working on the front line, and seriously interrupted the emergency research we are doing during the epidemic.”
(9) FACT: The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
(10) FICTION: Chinese spies smuggled the virus out of Canada. Social media posts are pushing the unproven premise that the novel coronavirus found in Wuhan was smuggled from a lab in Canada as part of China’s clandestine quest for a bioweapon, a theory debunked by Politifact. It’s a theory that seems to be somewhat related to the Wuhan lab conspiracy.
(11) FICTION: Hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
(12) FICTION: Ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the new coronavirus. UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
(13) FICTION: A coronavirus vaccine already exists. While researchers in several countries are working to develop a vaccine, no such vaccine has yet been developed, according to FactCheck.org and Politifact. But this has not stopped people from going online and claiming otherwise.
(14) FICTION: There were 100,000 confirmed cases in January. Many popular posts on social platforms spread statistics that served to scare people with numbers that do not match the official count. Some of these posts cite medical workers in Wuhan, without evidence. At least eight people have been arrested by the Chinese government for spreading hoaxes, according to reporting from the Poynter Institute in January. When trying to figure out the scale of the virus’s spread, it’s worth looking to reputable, official sources, such as the WHO.
(15) FACT: Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus. Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.
(16) FICTION: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill the new coronavirus. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth).
(17) FICTION: Pets at home can spread the new coronavirus. There is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.
(18) FACT: Vaccines against pneumonia cannot protect you against the new coronavirus. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.
(19) FACT: Rinsing your nose with saline cannot help prevent infection with the new coronavirus. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold.
(20) FICTION: A teen on TikTok is the first case in Canada. TikTok appears to have deleted the original viral video which had over 4.1 million views, but a similar video, posted by the same user, showed a teen alleging a classmate had contracted the virus remained up as of February 20. That morning, the company said it released a feature directing users to trusted sources of information, like the WHO, when they search for coronavirus-related content.
(21) FICTION: The Chinese government built a hospital overnight. It’s worth noting that the Chinese state media has also been spreading false information. As BuzzFeed News first pointed out, two state media outlets — Global Times and People’s Daily — circulated an image of a newly constructed building and claimed it was a hospital in Wuhan that was constructed in just 16 hours. In fact, the building in the image was an apartment building more than 600 miles away. This is just one example of how the Chinese government and state-backed organizations have used false or misleading information to portray the outbreak being under control.
(22) FACT: Eating garlic cannot help prevent infection with the new coronavirus. Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
(23) FACT: Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are more vulnerable to become severely ill with the new coronavirus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus; for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
(24) FICTION: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus. The new COVID-19 is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
(25) FICTION: There are specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.
Ghaffary, S., & Heilweil, R. (2020). Facebook doubles down on removing coronavirus conspiracy theories. Vox. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/31/21115589/coronavirus-wuhan-china-myths-hoaxes-facebook-social-media-tiktok-twitter-wechat
WHO. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters