Coronavirus, conspiracy and bullshit

It’s two days since we were asked to avoid all non-essential social contact, and already I’m sick of the conspiracies and the bullshit. From my mother-in-law, who thinks if you can hold your breath for ten seconds, you’re neither infected nor infectious (FYI, that’s bullshit), to those who keep asking what’s ‘really going on’, there’s ample proof that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has put its socks on.

So here’s the coronavirus bullshit I’m most sick of hearing.

The ‘I’ve heard…’ bullshit

So much discussion about coronavirus starts with, ‘I’ve heard…’

Whenever I state a fact on this site, I try to provide a link to a reputable source that supports it. Anecdotal evidence of the ‘I’ve heard’ variety – usually from a friend who’s a nurse, or an uncle who’s a doctor, or a cousin in Italy – is worse than useless, it’s often dangerous.

Vitamin-C stops you catching coronavirus; if you have a runny nose, it’s not coronavirus; it’s just the flu.

All wrong. This kind of hearsay stuff encourages falsehoods. It dissuades people from listening to sound advice and makes them ignore the very things that’ll help with this pandemic. It leads to them panic buying, stockpiling, pulling their kids out of school, and doing things that go against our best interests. It leads to chaos and individualism, when order and collaboration are how we save the day. It leads to people refusing to follow the steps we need to take to end this because they think they know better.

I often challenge people who make these kinds of statements to provide a source. ‘Google it,’ they respond, as though the onus is on me to find corroborating evidence, not the one making the batshit claim. If you tell me the world’s flat, it’s up to you to bring the evidence, buddy.

So next time, before clicking on that ‘share’ button, do a bit of fact-checking. It’s incumbent on all of us to do our part. If you don’t, you make things worse.

The conspiracy bullshit

The worst, most extreme form of ‘I’ve heard…’ is the conspiracy theory. I’m not going to go into the biological weapon bullshit here. Instead, I want to talk about the significant proportion of society who seem to delight in telling us the outbreak is either much worse than it really is, or else is a minor inconvenience/entirely non-existent virus that’s being exploited to take away our individual freedoms.

The first tends to take the form of, ‘I know a nurse, and she says they’re lying to us – it’s so much worse than they’re letting on.’

I’ve seen that sort of comment, phrased slightly differently, around fifty times already, mostly at Daily Mail Online. ‘The official statistics are wrong’ finds fertile ground among the distrustful minds of this post-truth age. These comments are the height of scaremongering, actively encouraging us not to trust the very government that is trying to help us. I’m pretty sure that, in times of war, this would be tantamount to treason.

But worse is all the NWO crap, that somehow seems to have shedloads of upvotes, hinting at a sizeable body of tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists living among us.

For those who don’t know, the New World Order is a massively popular conspiracy theory that claims a secretive cabal of globalists, Zionists, Freemasons and/or aliens are manipulating the world from out the shadows. Their aim is a totalitarian one world government, often called The Fourth Reich, that will enslave mankind and cull it to manageable numbers. The IMF, the World Bank, the WHO, and the UN are all believed to be arms of the NWO, slowly strangling individual freedoms. Part of Trump’s popularity is because people think he’s fighting back against this ‘Deep State’.

How will the NWO take over? By faking terrorist incidents and mass shootings to increase the government’s power and take away our means to resist (i.e. gun control), and by faking a global crisis that necessitates the suspension of civil liberties and the imposition of martial law. To these believers, Covid-19 is the end-game: all people will now be forced to vaccinate/have chips inserted in their necks to be monitored before being led to the extermination camps. Just go to Twitter and search the hashtag #Newworldorder and disappear down the rabbit hole of nuttiness.

And this would be fine, if it was just a fringe belief, but it crops up in the unlikeliest of places – I’ve even seen it on Asperger’s parental support sites. So every time you say, ‘What’s really going on?’ or ‘They’re lying to us!’ you could be encouraging someone who thinks our alien overlords are about to take over. Stop doing it.

The political bullshit

I’m also sick of all the posts and comments using Covid-19 as a stick with which to beat the Tories in general and Boris Johnson in particular, most notably at The Guardian. They seem to think that the Conservatives want old people to die, and Boris Johnson is doing everything in his power to bring that about. Specifically, they argue that, following a plan drawn up by Dominic Cummings, Johnson is willing to sacrifice the elderly, the sick and the poor, as they’re drains on the public purse, in order to safeguard the economy on behalf of his rich friends.

Do people really think this is the time to play party politics? They seem almost to want thousands of people to die in order to justify their hatred of the government. But though they dress this up under the veil of intelligence – they know better than the rest of us, don’t you know? – even an elementary understanding of politics makes it clear that blaming this on Boris Johnson is ludicrous.

Johnson is not a medical expert. That’s why he’s following the advice of Chris Whitty CB FRCP FFPH FMedSci, a physician and epidemiologist who also happens to be the Chief Medical Officer for England, Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care, and head of the National Institute for Health Research. A senior civil servant and practising Consultant Physician, formerly Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health, I’m rather sure he knows more about public health than most left-wing journalists and the majority of Guardian readers. So why the constant Tory-bashing?

All this achieves is sowing disunity and discord when we ought to be supportive and cooperative. I’ve even seen calls for Johnson and Cummings to be arrested and put on trial, and for the government to be overthrown and replaced, which is patently absurd.

The supernatural bullshit

But more absurd are the supernatural interpretations of Covid-19. I’ve seen many people argue that Dean Koontz predicted this outbreak in his 1981 novel, The Eyes Of Darkness, because the book is about a biological weapon named Wuhan-400, where the coronavirus pandemic began. This is obviously just a coincidence – more so when you discover it was originally named Gorki-400 and came from Russia, before being renamed Wuhan-400 in the 1989 reissue.

Even more have pointed to a 100-year cycle of outbreaks, in the manner of: 1520, smallpox; 1620, plague; 1720, plague; 1820, cholera; 1920, Spanish flu; 2020, coronavirus. This is such an obvious example of cherry-picking that it’s barely worth debunking, but I will – what about the Black Death in the 1340s; 1665 London Plague; the 1855 plague in China; the 1889 Russian flu; or the 1957 Asian flu? There are always outbreaks of disease so you can do this with any year. Indeed, as this 18-month-old article shows, we were overdue a pandemic anyway.

In terms of supernatural belief systems, many Christians seem to think that God won’t allow this virus to get out of hand. Those who believe aliens are guiding the evolution of mankind agree they won’t let us fall victim to this (unless they’re part of the New World Order and this is their plan). There are many more who seem certain that the virus will just disappear.

The evidence? The late celebrity psychic medium Sylvia Browne, from shows like Montel and Sally Jessie Raphael, predicted that 2020 would see a pneumonia-like illness spread across the world and then disappear. And far be it from me to doubt somebody who:

  • in 1999 told the parents of a kidnapped girl that she had been sold into slavery and was still alive (she had been murdered within hours of her abduction);
  • in 2001 told a woman her firefighter fiance had survived 9/11 (one month before his body was pulled from the rubble);
  • in 2002 told parents that their missing girl was alive and working as an exotic dancer (she had been murdered in 1996);
  • also in 2002 told the parents of a missing 11-year-old that their son was dead (he was found alive in 2007);
  • in 2004 convinced a mother that her missing daughter was dead (she turned up alive in 2013);
  • also in 2004 told a pregnant woman she’d have a healthy baby boy (it was a girl and died after being born 5-months premature).

And dozens more. But sure, she predicted this. After all, a stopped clock is right twice a day.

The November bullshit

And speaking of time, I’ve lost count of the number of people who claim they had coronavirus in November, or over Christmas, or in early January. They all speak of a mystery, flu-like illness that laid them low long before the illness left China. The official story is wrong, they say – it’s been here for months already.

You know what other illness has flu-like symptoms and afflicts people in the wintertime? Flu.

Give it a rest, people. This is going to go on for months, and it’ll be far harder if we have to spend them knee deep in bullshit.

3 thoughts on “Coronavirus, conspiracy and bullshit

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