” However, I do wish to prevent the disinformation from proliferating; it is, after all, a matter of life and death.”
It is important to analyse this because this is the cause of the misunderstanding. Each person perceives the world and analyses information in a different way. There is usually a consensus and a spectrum of facts and truths from those that are axiomatic to those that maybe have a 50% chance of being right or wrong. One man’s (or woman’s) disinformation is another man’s truth in this spectrum. If your thoughts belong to the 99.9% consensus then you are more likely to feel vindicated that your beliefs are closer to the ‘truth’. This of course is more likely to occur in things like politics or other social ‘sciences’, but is less likely to apply to real sciences which are more verifiable but also more obscure to the layman, but also with instances of being falsified.
This is unfortunately how doubt is sown and how conspiracy theories can thrive to give the impression that the consensus is flawed and that the spectrum of ideas is equally valid. They base their theory on things like the fact the the earth was flat was the accepted truth and those that argued for a round earth were a minority, or that until 1880 when Laveran discovered Plasmodia as a cause of malaria, that prevailing thoughts were that it was caused by foul air arising from swamps. But the current situation is very different because facts can be verified much quicker now.
The major problem with Covid-19 is that it has both popularized and politicized science and there is a muddle between science and its application and interpretation through the different prisms. This is what gives rise to this wide spectrum of Covid deniers and trivializer’s trying to equate the faulty application of scientific findings with political actions and tarring them with the same brush.
Perceptions can also be deceptive because they are personal interpretations and for the person who is suffering from delusions, are real, even if they appear to be easy to dismiss for others. I am not saying that Covid deniers are deluded but they possess a sense of fixed perception that easily converts all happenings as a proof to confirm their beliefs and perception. That is why it is difficult to indulge in fruitful conversation sometimes with doubters. But importantly, direct challenges, including emotionally loaded ones to their beliefs is unlikely to produce any positive effects and must be resisted in my opinion.