I really don’t want to write about the novel coronavirus a/k/a COVID-19. Really. I’d rather be writing about new movies or TV shows coming out, fun things people are doing, fun things I’m doing, even the murder hornets that are headed our way. At least they’re different. Okay, just for a moment, let me address the murder hornets. They kill bees, not people. So there’s that. Praying Mantises can kill them. That’s true. However, covering the west coast with praying mantises is a staggeringly bad idea. Praying mantises are meat eaters. While not known to attack in swarms, they’d need to eat something when they ran out of murder hornets so they could attack larger prey. That would be a horrible way for you to lose Fido, so don’t do it. These fun loving hornets have done millions of dollars in damage to agriculture in Italy and France. And those are countries with counter measures in place. Our government gutted the EPA so no one seems to know who to call to deal with this. A small swarm of hornets can wipe out a complete bee hive in a day. They continue at that rate until they’re killed. And, just for shits and giggles, you should know they also come from Asia.
Okay, back to COVID-19.
Please quit sharing PLANDEMIC. It’s an unctuous pile of feces designed to spread baseless fear.
Marshall Shepherd over at Forbes takes a, very serious, look at this crap.
It took me a while to write this because I spent most of the morning trying to stand up a broom while searching the television for insight on NASA’s mysterious cloud generation machine and the chemicals the weather control experiments. Ok, I usually hate sarcasm, but conspiracy theories are so rampant these days that I couldn’t resist. The latest one making the rounds on my social media feeds is a You-Tube “documentary” called Plandemic. I wasn’t even aware of it until a Facebook friend shared it yesterday. Another friend then messaged me asking for my opinion about it, and it immediately didn’t pass my smell test.
According to Derek Beres’ blog “The Anti-Vaxx agenda of Pandemic,” my smell test detector didn’t let me down. The video, which continues to be taken down by social media sites, features an activist, Judy Mikovits (click this link for more on her) and lots of disingenuous information. Beres writes, “This agenda-based film features contradictory evidence and false claims while being championed as a beacon of truth.” At least it is a non-partisan pile of misinformation as both conservative and liberal friends seem to be sharing it. According to the BBC, other conspiracy theories linked to religious groups, software moguls and immigration have been propagated by extreme political tribes. Honestly, I will leave it to folks like Beres and the numerous other outlets to debunk video. My goal is to explore why people are more enamored with conspiracy theories than science.
And this is where things get fun.
Mr. Shepherd isn’t just a whimsical satirist. No sirree bub, he’s also a NASA scientist with twenty-five years experience dealing with idiots. And he does an excellent job of laying out the issues.
(M)y experiences as a meteorology professor, atmospheric scientist, and former NASA scientist have revealed some more “common sense” reasons. I hear all types of wacky theories and narratives about climate change or why people don’t evacuate from a hurricane. My 25+ years of doing science, testifying before Congress, and monitoring social media have also revealed the following factors in why people migrate to conspiracy theories:
- Lack of or failure to apply critical thinking skills
- Dunning-Kruger Effect (overestimate of one’s knowledge of particular topics)
- Healthy skepticism because of previous events (See Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments)
- Sharing content without reading it and the inability to grasp the credibility of the source (Everything on the Internet is credible, right?)
- False equivalency. While healthy skepticism and careful thought should be always be given in science, many people mistakenly give equal weight to counter arguments when there is often a clear consensus on the other side. I see this all of the time with the climate change discussion. My Forbes colleague Stephanie Sarkis writes an excellent piece at this link on false equivalency.
I am always amused at how many of the odd conspiracy theories or viral claims seem to be linked to NASA. I can only conclude that the conspiracy originators view NASA as viewed as a credible source. I am surprised that the Plandemic documentary didn’t interview a disgruntled former NASA scientist instead.
Plandemic’s many false assertions are based on a premise that no scientist has endorsed, Basically, the pandemic was planned. That’s how it got it’s catchy name.
Judy Mikovits has been discredited at every position she’s ever held, and with good reason. She’s a lying fraud who doesn’t care if people die as long as she makes bank.
As to planning this sort of thing, it’s not as easy as it seems on FOX News. First of all, any man made virus would have markers simply so scientists manufacturing the sucker could track it and see its effect on whatever it got into. If you can’t follow it you won’t know if you concocted the black plague or a new Viagra. It’s important to be able to tell the difference.
Anyway, no markers in COVID-19.
Secondly, COVID-19 has been through several mutations since it began to scourge the globe. Some are less lethal, others more. Creating a virus that would be stable enough to span the planet without weakening as it disperses would truly require more luck than science. And, believe it or not, killing all life on the planet is still limited to evil aliens, which seem to be in short supply at the moment.
Oh, as a side note, don’t drink disinfectants of any type.
Ever. Just don’t do that.
So what do you do? A couple of things. First, and it pains me to say this, don’t listen to our president. Whether spitballing unproven concepts, to potentially lethal ones, or helping his friends’ pharmaceutical companies, his advice has ranged between horrible and bad. His recent decision to shitcan the CDC’s guidelines for opening up the country should scare the hell out of everyone. The guidelines posted by the White House are woefully inadequate and vague and come with zero enforcement, an no encouragement from the executive branch in any case. Thus Georgia and Texas are racking up cases at an alarming rate. As is rural Illinois.
It all comes down to this; Stay safe, sane, and inside.
Happy Pandemic everyone!