Not Reading mainstream media and opting for alternative sources can cause heart attacks, according to new research reported by the mainstream media.
According to a pilot study led by Manchester Metropolitan University, those who do not read legacy mainstream media and opt for alternative sources of information demonstrate unhealthy symptoms of physical and mental stress, which can lead to heart attacks.
The research study used so-called “sophisticated techniques” to monitor how people use media websites to measure their reactions to online information.
The researchers claimed people with a low ID have a flawed ‘threat’ response when presented with misleading information in a stressful situation, which they say brings on cardiac responses and erratic reading behavior.
The study also found that participants with low IDs also lacked self-confidence.
It also claimed that reading alternative media from “unverified” sources (i.e., not reading CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ect) could negatively affect a person’s health and well-being.
Senior Lecturer in Information and Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University and principal investigator on the study, Dr Geoff Walton, said:
“Those who aren’t very good at making judgments about information they read or see in newspapers, TV, or social media, especially misinformation such as fake news, experience a negative physical response to it. This means that misinformation is actually bad for their physical health.
“On the other hand, those people that are very good at making judgments about information tend to have a much healthier physical response when they encounter misinformation,” he said.
“Given the constant barrage of fake news that we come across every day of our lives, it clearly shows there is a worrying public health issue emerging.”
“However, our previous research has shown that we can change this through teaching and training so that people get better at making judgments about misinformation such as fake news.”
“By doing so, they will have a much better physical response, which will positively affect their well-being.”
“This shows it is now time for school teachers and lecturers to be given the right tools, devised in our previous research, to develop ID in their learners.”
The results will be presented at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) later this year. A peer-reviewed journal article is in preparation, and a larger study is planned.
“Given the constant barrage of fake news that we come across every day of our lives, it clearly shows there is a worrying public health issue emerging.
“In the pilot study, 18-24-year-old men were asked to answer questions on how they consumed news and information.”
This also included how they consume news, checking for sources, and fact-checking.
The participants were connected to a Finometer to measure cardiovascular reactivity – arterial blood flow and heart rate – and also captured eye-tracking data.
They were then asked to read six news stories with a religious theme.
This revealed how “low information discerners” read much less of an article than those with high ID.
The lower ID group concentrated on the first few paragraphs, while the high ID group scanned the whole page.
Participants were asked to describe their feelings about the task after their physiological data was captured.
Results revealed that those with a low ID received false information; they had poor cardiovascular and emotional responses, while those with a high ID had healthier responses.
Similarly, a WHO study from 2022 claimed reading so-called “misinformation” can have a negative effect on health.
The official website of the WHO reported:
Incorrect interpretations of health information, which increase during outbreaks and disasters, often negatively impact people’s mental health and increase vaccine hesitancy, and can delay the provision of health care, a new WHO review shows.
The authors conclude that the effects of infodemics and health misinformation online can be countered by “developing legal policies, creating and promoting awareness campaigns, improving health-related content in mass media and increasing people’s digital and health literacy”.
The systematic review of published studies found 31 reviews that analysed fake news, misinformation, disinformation and infodemics related to health.
Misinformation was defined as false or inaccurate information deliberately intended to deceive, while disinformation also included misleading or biased information, manipulated narratives or facts, and propaganda.
The authors gathered, compared, and summarized this evidence in order to identify ways to address the negative effects of false health information on public health.
“Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are critical in disseminating the rapid and far-reaching spread of information,” the systematic review explains.
The repercussions of misinformation on social media include such negative effects as “an increase in erroneous interpretation of scientific knowledge, opinion polarization, escalating fear and panic or decreased access to health care”.
The increased spread of health-related misinformation in a health emergency is accelerated by easy access to online content, especially on smartphones.
“During crises such as infectious disease outbreaks and disasters, the overproduction of data from multiple sources, the quality of the information and the speed at which new information is disseminated create social and health-related impacts.”
The authors found that social media have been propagating poor-quality health-related information during pandemics, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies at an increasing rate. They note, “Such spreading of unreliable evidence on health topics amplifies vaccine hesitancy and promotes unproven treatments.”
All the more reason not to read mainstream media.