COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories and Why They're False
Since December, 2019, coronavirus has spread rapidly around the globe. Not only has the virus caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, it has also given rise to various rumors and controversies. Conspiracy theorists on social media platforms have spread false information about COVID-19, paving the way for wilder and wilder claims.
In light of this, let's analyze some of the most popular COVID-19 conspiracies and take some time to debunk each of them.
COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories
- The 5G Saga
- The Bill Gates Conspiracy Theory
- The Money Conspiracy Theory
1. The 5G Saga
This is the most talked about conspiracy theory surrounding this pandemic. The theory suggests that 5G technology alters the human immune system, causing COVID-19's vast array of devastating symptoms.
How the Lie Spread
In Birmingham, U.K., some angry protestors have taken the 5G conspiracy so seriously that they set 5G masts ablaze, claiming that the wavelengths emitted by this technology caused the spread of COVID-19. In fact, according to a recent press release, Nightingale Hospital’s 5G mast was destroyed by arsonists, linking the virus to 5G waves.
The issue has been trending on various social media platforms for months. Even when people seek to debunk it, new people begin to believe it. Amazingly, in response to this insanity, governments actually launched investigations into the issue. Obviously, they discovered that the claims were false.
Why It's False
According to a report by the Australian Health Department, the spread of COVID-19 has nothing to do with wireless technology. While all of the affects of wireless technology are not fully understood, no immunologist would ever suggest that 5G could destabilize the human immune system. It's well known that the virus mostly spreads through water droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated surfaces, including hands or various other objects.
The science is confusing, but the World Health Organization, noting decades of research, has found no significant health risks from low-level electromagnetic fields. Yet amid a broader tech backlash—against screens, against social media, against power consolidating in a handful of companies... faster than we can keep up or argue with... it’s just big enough to seem, to many, like the obvious explanation for so much being wrong.— Kaitlyn Tiffany (writer for "The Atlantic")
2. The Bill Gates Conspiracy Theory
In mid-March, Mike Sonko, a Kenyan politician who served as the second Governor of Nairobi, published a TED talk video in which Bill Gates spoke about the threat that viral pandemics pose for our coming future. Sonko´s post generated so much traction that it remains the most viewed Bill Gates video in the COVID-19 era. Naturally, conspiracy theorists couldn't ignore this connection.
How the Lie Spread
Social media is a double-edged sword. While it spread public awareness of important issues, it can also spread horrible misinformation and stoke violent outrage. Nothing spreads fake news faster than social media. A viral video on social media, which linked Bill Gates to the spread of COVID-19, garnered attention from millions of conspiracy theory enthusiasts.
Why It's False
In these turbulent times, it's important for us to remember that Bill Gates has been highly supportive of improving world health. In fact, over the past 10 years, Bill Gates has donated billions of dollars to various African countries to fight against viruses and diseases.
While it is true that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested heavily in the production of various vaccines to control diseases and viruses (even before the existence of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), that doesn’t mean that Bill Gates invented the virus just to provide its vaccine. So, it's clear to see that the claim linking Bill Gates to the current pandemic is totally baseless.
'It is good to know which kids have had a measles vaccine and which have not,' Gates said, adding that 'there are needed systems,' like health records that should be in place to help healthcare workers identify who has been immunized, but that no microchips are involved whatsoever.— Tyler Sonnemaker (writer for "Business Insider")
3. The Money Conspiracy Theory
This is probably the most surprising conspiracy theory to come from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its believers think that the virus was invented as a way for China to cripple the world economy, then somehow profit off the downfall of other countries. Its believers also tend to think that China actually has the cure, but is intentionally allowing other countries to become stranded before releasing it.
How the Lie Spread
Once again, social media is the culprit here. Conspiracy theorists used social media platforms to spread disinformation about the desires of the Chinese government.
Why It's False
Many of China's trade partners are falling into economic ruin. This does nothing for their GDP. In fact, withholding a cure only hurts their economy further. If they had one, they'd want to profit off it as quickly as possible. In fact, China lost hundreds of billions of dollars within the first 90 days of the pandemic. While the virus might have originated in China, that doesn’t mean it was invented just to make money.
...wet markets are notorious breeding grounds for disease as stressed animals from all corners of the world are caged close together, trading unfamiliar diseases, and then handled and butchered by humans. It happened that way with SARS, the first deadly coronavirus outbreak of the modern era, and then again with the second, MERS, this time along camel trade routes and slaughterhouses in the Middle East.— Sherryn Groch, Chris Zappone and Felicity Lewis (Writers for "The Sydney Morning Herald")
Conspiracies Are Nothing New
Five years back, conspirators feared refugees were taking over the West. Today, they are of the idea that evil forces are gaining power amid a global pandemic. People can come up with endless intriguing narratives. The quote below sums it all up:
History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.— Zbigniew Brzezinski (former U.S. National Security Advisor)
- Tyler Sonnemaker, "Bill Gates said it's hard to deny vaccine conspiracy theories involving him because they're 'so stupid,'" Business Insider. June 4th, 2020.
- Kaitlyn Tiffany, "Something in the Air," The Atlantic. May 13th, 2020.
- Sherryn Groch, Chris Zappone and Felicity Lewis, "How Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19 Went Viral," The Sydney Morning Herald. April 20th, 2020.
Which conspiracy theory you liked the most? Your thoughtful comments are welcome.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Bilal Fazal