A new survey done by a group of researchers at the University of Oxford found that one in five English people think coronavirus was constructed by Jews to topple the economy for financial benefits.
“Increasingly as the lockdown has gone on the signs of conspiracy beliefs forming has become greater. In the UK there has even been the setting fire of mobile phone masks linked to a particular coronavirus conspiracy belief,” study leader Daniel Freeman told The Jerusalem Post.
The study surveyed 2,500 adults that were “representative of the English population according to age, gender, region and income, on their attitudes toward the government narrative on coronavirus and related conspiracy theories between May 4 and May 11,” according to the Jerusalem Post. (RELATED: New York Sent More Than 4,500 Coronavirus Patients Into Nursing Homes After Cuomo Order: AP)
It was given to gauge public response to measures implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and found a strong inclination towards distrust of official advice.
Respondents were also asked if they agreed with a range of conspiracy statements covering general theories about the origin and spread of the virus to responses made by the government. The statements were designed with influences from both mainstream and alternative sites, The Jerusalem Post reported.
When asked to respond to the statement “Jews have created the virus to collapse the economy for financial gain,” 5.3% of respondents “agreed a little,” 6.8% “agreed moderately,” 4.6% “agreed a lot,” and 2.4% “agreed completely,” while 80.8% did not agree at all.
The researched found those who support conspiracy theories were also less likely to comply with government containment guidelines.
“The findings are truly concerning. Rates of coronavirus conspiracy beliefs were higher than we anticipated. Only half of the population appear completely unaffected by such ideas. Highly disturbing ideas were endorsed by a significant minority,” Freeman told The Jerusalem Post.
“It looks like a fracture in society is exposed, just as we need a collective response to combat the virus. The coronavirus conspiracy theories appear to have built on long-standing prejudices and distorted ideas. Mistrust appears to have gone mainstream.”
The researchers have plans to expand the study in hopes of discovering “ways to reduce the coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and make accurate information more effective,” Freeman said.