Amplification of Denial – Overview

How Amplification of Denial Spread COVID Misinformation and

Undermined the Credibility of Public Health Science

Robert D. Morris (in press, Journal of Public Health Policy)


Denialist scientists have played an outsized role in shaping public opinion and determining public health policy during the recent COVID pandemic. From early on, amplification of researchers who denied the threat of COVID and/or the benefits of intervention (denialists) shaped public opinion and undermined public health policy. The forces that amplify denialists include 1) Motivated Amplifiers seeking to protect their own interests by supporting denialist scientists, 2) Conventional Media outlets giving disproportionate time to denialist opinions, 3) Promoters of controversy seeking to gain traction in an ‘attention economy,’ and 4) Social Media creating information silos in which denialists can become the dominant voice. Contrarian amplification poses an existential threat to science relevant to public policy. It is incumbent on the scientific community to create a forum to accurately capture the collective perspective of the scientific community related to public health policy that is open to dissenting voices but prevents artificial amplification of denial.

For full text, go here.