Top 5 COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories: ranked and debunked
There’s a whole lot of nonsense, hysteria and confusion doing the rounds right now, and it’s probably leaving you wondering whether science or critical thinking was even on the curriculum for most of the population. Nowhere is this stupidity and ignorance more apparent than in meme and tweet conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19. So I’ve made a list of my favourite ridiculous theories and ranked them from 1 to 5. You’re welcome.
1. ‘The Chinese government created the virus to wipe out their elderly population, who were a huge drain on their communist economy. That’s why they tried to stop that doctor speaking out too early.’
Even if we overlook the fact that the virus appears to have a pretty conclusive lineage to coming from human consumption or exposure to an animal at a wet market, this would be a particularly stupid way of reducing the population of the elderly.
For one thing, it’s not going to wipe out enough of them, pragmatically speaking. Nationally, to date, China has reported that 3,339 people have died from the outbreak. While I’m the last one to suggest that those figures are accurate, or that China hasn’t got a pretty dodgy history in tweaking the truth a little, we simply don’t have any alternative evidence to suggest it’s made a significant dent on the elderly population. That and it just doesn’t make sense, economically or logically.
Why risk massive economic shut down for at least three months, not to mention international anger, vengeance and demands for reparations? The reason they wanted to shut the doctor up is far more likely to be linked to a very famous phenomenon of communism and dictatorship: fear of being punished from above for bad news. Officials were likely terrified of being blamed for not handling an outbreak as well as was demanded of them. We saw it with Stalin and the great famines, Mao and the Great Leap Forward, and just about any communist state you want to point at. Disasters are covered up, at any cost. And would you look at that? The Wuhan officials were severely demoted and publicly shamed. Did they deserve it? Probably.
2. ‘It’s an American plot to destroy China. Trump wants to punish China for being a successful communist country to avoid Bernie winning.’
Those darn happy communists, being wealthy and prosperous, right? Undermining capitalism a bit, aren’t they? So why not create a virus that massively hits their economy? That’ll show them, right?
Well, that’s a pretty dangerous plan, if not a downright stupid one. For one thing, the coronavirus is incredibly contagious. In just under six months, it has infected every continent in the world (apart from Antarctica). It has crashed Wall Street, killed thousands, forced the government to bail out millions of workers and companies, weakened the USA’s intelligence and security forces and brought up serious questions about whether capitalism has actually failed. Which, in all, seems to have backfired pretty badly if that was America’s plan.
Which it wasn’t. If it was, why did the USA continue accepting flights from China for so long? Why did it behave with such a lax attitude for three months after the virus was picked up in the States? None of this theory makes sense. Apart from the bit about humans blaming other humans.
3. ‘The virus was engineered to kill black people, immigrants and muslims by the whites. That’s why it disproportionately kills minorities.’
This one is rife at the moment, and I can understand the vectors behind it. Historically, white western science has a terrible record on the care, treatment and compassion received by people of colour. Biological warfare, the complete abuse of medical ethics and using minorities as lab rats for diseases like syphilis, smallpox and of course, tuberculosis are all rampant and easily found in the simplest research session. However: this particular conspiracy could actually be costing lives.
The figures seem to suggest that the majority of people ending up in intensive care live in multigenerational housing (maybe with their children, their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren) attend regular religious ceremonies, have poor health from sustained poverty (diet, housing, exposure to disease and stress) and may not speak English well enough to communicate symptoms early enough to help them. Most, if not all of this, of this stems from inequality, a lack of integration and education, and racism, but those are all products of a system that kills people of colour, not a virus made to kill them.
In fact, this cause and causation hysteria is not helped by deeply politicised thought pieces in national publications might in fact make people hesitate about trusting the hospitals to treat them or their communities. It might provoke a lack of adherence to life saving measures such as social distancing, isolation and staying at home. Be wary about spreading this one, even as a joke.
4. ‘The virus is fake! The government wants to sterilise us using a vaccine so the rich benefit and don’t have to put up with overpopulation and poor people!”
The virus is definitely not fake: and if you don’t believe me, then I’d love to hear your explanation on what over a million people suffered through. This is an ancient conspiracy that basically stems from the total misunderstanding of how economics (or wealth) works.
Labour, and the cost of labour, basically fluctuates off supply and demand. If I have 1000 peasants living on my land, and I need 800 to farm it, I can pay them a small wage for doing so. Why? Because the market is over saturated. I’m not having to attract workers. They need the job to eat, and they will settle for less to do it. It’s in my interest to have too many peasants. If a horrible plague happens (Black Death, google it) and I lose a third of my peasants, suddenly I need to attract labour to meet the shortage. I need to raise wages for the same work. If I don’t, my peasants will move to similarly affected lords who are offering higher wages. It’s not in my interest to wipe any of them out. As a factory owner, farmer or businessman, I want a large, surplus and agile working population so I can profit as much as I can.
That’s why most big business figures are pro-immigration: it’s in their economic interest to have more workers and a bigger pond to select workers from. At the other end of it, if you peasants aren’t working for them and making them money, you are buying something from them and making them money. Similarly, governments make their money off people working, buying stuff and paying taxes. Not dying.
This whole ‘kill the poor’ motif would be astoundingly bad business sense for the global leaders, financiers and investors. So yeah. Debunked.
5. My personal favourite, if only because it’s so silly: ‘Israel was behind it, because so many medical and pharmaceutical companies are based there. They wanted to make a lot of money.’
I’ve seen this one a lot doing the rounds in Middle Eastern and South Asian circles, and I have to admit it made me laugh out loud. Israel’s economy has been absolutely smashed by what is essentially a disease from a fish market in a non-important city in China. Stocks are down, shares are down, businesses are closed. Most areas are in lockdown. Thousands are sick and dying. Companies are going bankrupt. The government is getting raked across hot coals by the press on what to do about it.
If Israel’s plan was to profit off making a vaccine or medication, their entire economy has come to a screeching halt while they compete with every nation on earth, including medical giants like Germany, the USA and Canada for a cure. It’s also under discussion that any vaccine or cure might be seized and stripped of patents given the circumstances and potential global death toll.
So yeah: sorry zionist-bat fans: this one looks like it’s been debunked.