A self-proclaimed "mystic" may have got it wrong with his prediction for a Covid lockdown in New Zealand, and experts say his antics are highly damaging to society.
The prediction, posted to the popular video-sharing app TikTok, claimed that New Zealand would be plunged into lockdown on the 10th of August, after community cases emerged on the 8th or 9th.
The timeline fits with Government promises to deal with any Delta outbreak, lending an air of credibility to the claims.
The wannabe prophet, who calls himself Mystic W, amassed over 1.3 million followers for his predictions.
He claimed that visions came to him in dreams and asked his followers to suspend their disbelief until the given date.
When news broke on Monday of the 11 confirmed cases on board the container ship Rio De La Plata, social media was flooded by those who took the news as proof that Mystic W was correct.
Giulio Dalla Riva, who leads the Data with Relations research group at Canterbury University, told the Herald conspiracy theorists and those who make wild baseless predictions are damaging and are creating distractions away from the real issue, a global pandemic.
In response to the "mystic's" false prediction, he said: "Making a right prediction is easy. All you need to do is make a lot of predictions and then eventually you'll get one right.
"The danger is people only remember the predictions these people are getting right, not the ones they are wrong about.
"These people think they are changing the world and looking at very important issues, but they are not. Unfortunately, they are unfocused.
"They are creating distractions and people get confused. It's not easy for everybody to understand who is reliable and who isn't. It's quite easy to fall for these.
"All these conspiracies are damaging as they create distractions from the real issues. We end up talking more about conspiracy theories rather than deep structural issues within society.
"People get wound up by their claims [in their search for truth] and it nurtures polarisation. Often they can end up hijacking societal discussion points for political or monetary gain."
Dalla Riva says while it is important to debunk conspiracies, the academic community needs to be proactive in the information it shares rather than spending efforts putting out false information fires.
He told the Herald he believes the Government is doing a good job in sharing reliable data.
"[Conspiracy theorists'] information can [muddy the waters] and society has a hard time elaborating the truth. En masse, it can come across as relatable and clear even if the message is completely false.
"We need the academic community to take responsibility. The role of debunking is sometimes critical but we cannot just spend our time running after conspiracy theorists and misinformation. We need to be proactive in increasing the quality of what we publish.
"The Government is doing a very good job in being reliable and transparent with its information. We can, however, always do better by having more accessible data. However, it is also extremely important we are critical and call out when we make mistakes.
"The issue with the TikTok video is it distracts from the main issue and instead points the finger [rather than looking for solutions]. We have a huge challenge facing the Covid response. So it's important to be critical of misinformation but respond with an accurate representation of reality."
A survey earlier this year found that half of Kiwis believe in some form of Covid-related misinformation and almost 20 per cent hold at least three false beliefs.
The findings came in a report from Te Mana Whakaatu, the Government's Classification Office, by examining the landscape of virus-related misinformation in Aotearoa.
A survey of 2301 people between February and March this year found that 82 per cent were concerned about how misinformation was spreading in New Zealand with 90 per cent believing it influenced people's views about public health.
More than 80 per cent thought misinformation was becoming more common as almost 60 per cent claimed to have experienced misinformation in the past six months, 21 per cent noticing it daily or weekly.
The report also estimated half of all Kiwis held at least one belief associated with misinformation, with as many as 19 per cent of respondents holding three or more such beliefs.
Massey University senior lecturer Dr Jagadish Thaker was not surprised by half of Kiwis believing some form of misinformation and said even those aware of the risk could be susceptible.
"This points to a double-edged sword of self-belief in identifying misinformation — we choose to believe in information that aligns with our prior beliefs and discard other information as misleading."