Cognitive Dissonance and COVID-19. Some Disturbing Stories

There are a couple of stories in the press this past week about the disturbing affects of disinformation of COVID-19. This post wants to use those stories to explain the problem of disinformation. The United States is dealing with some forms of information or psychological warfare. If you are on the front lines of COVID-19 this blog respects and supports you.

“I have said that propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation have always been part of political warfare. Social media and other new platforms have given it a new life and reach through which the fake news phenomenon can reach everywhere.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari


This blog has written quite heavily on how some evangelicals are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now to be fair this blog wants to point out that there are some who are following the guidelines, wearing face masks and know the seriousness of the situation. There are many churches that are doing the right thing. And yet there are many that do not which appear to be on the Baptist side, Calvary Chapel or Pentecostal side. 

The other day I saw two articles and Twitter threads that stunned me. Turns out there are some people who watch conservative or alternative media who believe that COVID-19 is not bad, and that its just the flu. And yet some of these people are contracting the disease and dying while in anger, and denial. Watch the clips below. 


South Dakota Nurse on How Patients are Dying of COVID-19 While in Denial and Angry

Jodi Doering is a nurse in South Dakota who did a Twitter thread that caught attention on Twitter about COVID-19 in South Dakota. It put this nurse on the map in talking about the pandemic in her state. Read what she wrote below. 

In addition this has been written about by several publications. Check out the following articles. 

  1. London Daily Mail, “South Dakota ER nurse says some COVID-19 patients insist the virus isn’t real even as they’re dying from it, spending their final breaths ‘filled with anger and hatred’ rather than saying goodbye to their families.”
  2. Yahoo News, “South Dakota ER nurse recalls how dying coronavirus patients spend last minutes insisting virus isn’t real.”
  3. HuffPost, “South Dakota Nurse: Dying COVID-19 Patients ‘Still Don’t Believe The Virus Is Real’
  4. USA Today, “‘It’s not real’: In South Dakota, which has shunned masks and other COVID rules, some people die in denial, nurse says.”


A Nurse in El Paso, Texas Who Resigns After Dealing with a Lot of Misinformation

A COVID nurse in El Paso, Texas resigned after expressing hwo frustrated she was in dealing with disinformation. She detailed a conversation with a COVID patient who called the disease, “fake news.” Read below the Twitter thread and also check out this Newsweek article in, “Nurse’s Emotional Encounter With COVID-Skeptic Patient Who Later Admitted ‘I Was Mistaken’ Goes Viral.” 

Information/Psychological Warfare is Harming People in the United States

When I read stories like the ones above I ask myself, how is this happening? In a fatal pandemic how are people attacking masks, or dismissing the danger of COVID-19? This is the answer I have arrived at. I think some parts of the media and alternative media are engaging information or psychological warfare against parts of the United States population. They are cranking out such a volume of disinformation its became censorship through noise. What do I mean by that? I think some organizations are cranking out so much disinformation and alternative facts that it leads to some people giving up. Or that the factual information is suppressed and censored by disinformation, which can be believed. In writing this blog I have noticed disinformation accelerate over the past few years. The internet has turned much darker as a result. Information warfare is what foreign militaries or the intelligence community has done. A classic example I am thinking of comes from my study of 20th century history. It is the information or psychological warfare campaign the CIA conducted in Guatemala in 1954 that led to the removal of the Arbenz government. If you want to read more about it you can do so here and here


A Note to Medical Workers on the Front Lines of the COPVID-19 Pandemic

This blog wants to thank you. This blog understands the challenges of what you are going through. I grew up in a medical family. It was a family that took medicine and science seriously. It has rubbed off on me and I take those topics seriously as well. For those working in the ER’s and ICU’s across the United States. This blog wants to say thank you. Thanks for your selfless work and my hope is that you can hang on until we have a method to deal with the pandemic. I am confident and encouraged that things will improve. When the pandemic is over if there are any medical workers who pass through the D.C. area hit me up and I will buy you a coffee as a way to say thanks. Stand strong and know that you are loved and respected. 

6 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance and COVID-19. Some Disturbing Stories

  1. There has always been a “ant-science” bent in evangelics, since evangelicals grew out of fundamentalist, which are strongly anti-moderinst,which is by default generally anti-science… Opportunistic right-wing politicians have exploited this, and Trump has taken it to a new high. Now, people are dying do to it. As a practicing scientist engineer, that grew up in fundamentalism, I have personally experienced it off and on most of my life…

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Science” falsely so-called or WORD! OF!! GAWD!!!

      The difference between me and GUBAs (“Grew Up Born Again”) inside the Evangelical Christian bubble) is that I spend my formative years in a primarily secular environment, a natural-talent speedreader with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Then exposure to heavy-duty Fundagelicalism in the Age of Jack Chick and Hal Lindsay.

      I have nothing in common with them.


  2. To begin with, I’m no psychologist, but I’m not sure the purported statements of these patients counts as “cognitive dissonance.” Perhaps denial in one way or another. But not cognitive dissonance, which as I understand describes a situation where a person hold contradictory beliefs or acts in ways which contradict their beliefs. For a patient to deny that he has the Wuhan flu may indicate he is in denial. But to be an example of cognitive dissonance, the patient would have to deny that he has this virus and then ask to be put on a ventilator. But again, I’m happy to defer to the judgment of a trained clinical psychologist as to whether your assessment is valid.

    In addition, were a patient dying from this virus and approaching the end of their life, I doubt they would be able to shout at anyone. The end state of a viral pneumonia makes breathing almost impossible, let alone inhaling sufficiently to shout at anyone.

    More important, there are discrepancies with Nurse Doering’s statements widely reported in the media (as in the CNN clip you linked to). According to the medical center where she worked on a temporary basis, not as a regular employee of the facility, she was an ER nurse, and would only have worked in the ICU as needed. At the time of this nurse’s appearance on CNN, I believe there was only 6 non-critical COVID patients and only 1 patient in the ICU at the facility where she was working, and none were on ventilators.

    Perhaps more problematic is this person describing her conversations with patients. Arguably by discussing their medical condition with non-medical personnel like the CNN reporter, this is a violation of HIPAA’s privacy regulations. Again, I’m not a lawyer and will happily defer to a qualified ERISA attorney for their opinion. But on its face, any disclosure of personal health information without the patient’s written consent is a violation with significant monetary penalties attached.

    Finally, while I wear a mask, I do so without any expectation that it will prevent me from contracting this, or ay other, airborne respiratory virus. The size of the aerosolized virus particles compared to the size of the “holes” in a piece of cotton cloth draped over my nose and mouth make it ridiculously ineffective as a barrier to either my transmitting the virus if I am infected, or as a barrier protecting me from virus particles floating in the air around me. It is like trying to stop a mosquito with a chain link fence. If my analogy is wrong, I would appreciate a “scientific” response which shows where my analogy breaks down.

    To this last point, there have been various scientific studies which have challenged the effectiveness of universal masking. And these studies were not conducted by evangelicals susceptible to what you characterize as “conspiracy” theories. They were conducted by medical professionals with the relevant expertise. The fact that Europe, where masking is more widely practiced than here in the US, is experiencing a surge in infections confirms this.


      The term “Wuhan flu” (aka “China Virus”, aka “COMMUNIST Chinese Cough”) raises a yellow alert.
      Not since HIV has a virus been so politicized.


  3. I think you have it exactly backwards: this virus has been de-politicized. The thought police have declared that it is COVID-19, and no other descriptor shall be allowed. But the virus originated in or near Wuhan, China. So calling this the “Wuhan flu” is no more a “yellow alert” than talking about the Spanish flu, or the Hong Kong flu, or the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or the Ebola virus. Indeed, your reference to a “yellow alert” may betray a subliminal racism on your part, i.e., “yellow” as a dog whistle for “Asian” or “Chinese.”

    More to the point, you don’t address any specific points I raised. You simply defaulted to an ad hominem response, which is not a response at all, but merely displays your intellectual laziness.

    So don’t bother with any more comments until you are ready to address the substance of the points I raised.


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