Refuting lies about vaccines peddled by those in leadership positions may be less about trying to change their minds and more about protecting those who might be listening.
What is the best way to fight misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines (of which there has been plenty in South Africa) spread by leaders?
Attacking them directly by correcting their myths or scepticism with scientific information is simply not the answer, research shows. Rather, we should focus on the people they're trying to reach and expose the techniques influential people use to distribute the wrong information.
In December, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was asked to speak at a thanksgiving celebration at Tembisa Hospital. At the podium in front of a sign emblazoned with the Gauteng government seal, Mogoeng told the crowd gathered in prayer:
"If there be any [Covid-19] vaccine that is the work of the devil meant to infuse 666 in the lives of the people, meant to corrupt their DNA... may it be destroyed by fire."
Many Christians associate the number "666" with the devil.
In the address, some in the audience respond with a chorus of "Yes!"
Let's be clear: vaccines are not made by the devil and do not...