This is not an easy time for anyone, and you know what makes it infinitely worse? Idiotic theories and ideas that cannot and will not be supported by any sort of valid evidence, ever. You can’t escape them. They’re all over social media, alt media, YouTube. Co-workers reel with them out with little to no provocation. Maybe you’re even hearing them in your own home.
Here are my Top 10 most obnoxious pandemic-related conspiracy memes and how you can address them.
10. Q Distractions. The QAnon crowd is busily knitting together loose theories about how COVID-19 got into the population (Chinese scientists) and how it is affecting the Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats who run the planet. For instance, Tom Hanks wasn’t really sick. He was evading capture because he is one of the leading Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats, and Trump is gunning for him. Or, he is having adrenochrome withdrawal because he doesn’t have a reliable supply of children to murder and devour.
Look, I don’t know what Tom Hanks does in his spare time other than post fun Instagram pics. And I don’t think that anyone hunkered in front of a laptop in rural Tennessee knows shit about his private life, either. You’re really reaching here, Q-guys.
Q and Q supporters seldom make verifiable claims, but when they do they are easily refuted.
9. 5G Hysteria. This is not a new thing. It’s a natural outgrowth of EMF hysteria, which was an outgrowth of electricity hysteria, which was an offshoot of things like “steamship panic” and “railroad sickness.” The truth is, new technology is overwhelming and terrifying for many people. Some of them really are suffering from symptoms like nausea, vertigo, headaches, etc. These are signs of conversion disorders, and they’re very serious. But taking away wi-fi is not going to cure them.
If you’re dealing with a case of EMF/5G conspiracy-mongering in your home or workplace, pull a Saul Goodman trick by concealing some electronic device near the person to see if they respond. If they don’t, deliver the good news that they’re cured.
If you’re dealing with a case online, ask the person why they’re sitting at a computer or using a smartphone to transmit this information.
8. The Silver Panacea. I’ve already written about Jim Bakker’s claims that an ordinary silver colloidal solution he sells can cure COVID-19, and similar claims that have been made by Alex Jones and several others in the past few months. If you see any such claim being made for a product, contact your government consumer protection bureau to report it as a scam.
7. The Bleach Panacea. Trump has taken a lot of flak for suggesting that disinfectants should be examined as a potential treatment for COVID-19, but this batshit idea definitely did not originate with him. For years, the alt health crowd has touted the wonders of chugging bleach solutions and bathing in bleach. They claim it can cure autism, cancer and just about everything else. The CBC program the fifth estate did an excellent show about this “Miracle Mineral Solution” back in 2016.
The Guardian has reported that just before he proposed disinfectant-as-treatment, Trump was contacted by Mark Grenon, a self-proclaimed archbishop who has been aggressively promoting bleach treatments all over the world (seen in the 20/20 clip below).
P.S.: The UV light “injection” that Trump mentioned wasn’t his dumb idea, either. Ultraviolet light really is used in a worthless “treatment” known as ultraviolet blood irradiation. You can read about that and similar bogus UV treatments here.
If you know anyone who is consuming any form of disinfectant, tell them to stop immediately and call poison control on their behalf. If someone is talking about trying it, inform them in explicit detail about the effects of poison ingestion and give them the number for poison control. Tell them that you will miss them and that you will attend their memorial service once it is safe to hold one.
6. “It’s No Worse Than the Flu.” You’ve heard this from at least one friend, right? I recommend that you pull out some numbers for them. Not to scare or depress them, but to impress upon them that COVID-19 is being taken so seriously for a reason. In the U.S., seasonal flu kills roughly 30,000-60,000 people every year. COVID-19 has been in the States for less than three months and has already killed over 60,000. This is not the flu. This is not a bad cold.
5. “It’s Worth Sacrificing the Weak and/or the Elderly If We Can Get the Economy Restarted.” Even though I’ve placed this only halfway down the list, due to its relative rarity, this one bothers me the most. Social Darwinism is alive and well in certain quarters, folks, and I know we’ve all heard a few people boast that they would survive COVID-19. It only kills smokers and seniors and people who were already sick, they’ll say.
Of course, they’re wrong on a scientific level. COVID-19 is no respecter of youth or health. On an ethical level, they’re so wrong that I can’t imagine even trying to engage them in anything like a normal conversation. But if you must do that, I guess your best bet is to remind them that they could join the vulnerable population at any time just by getting a non-preventable disease or condition. Would that make them disposable? Would they deserve to die? If they respond that certainly, they would give their lives so that workplaces may reopen, then leave them alone to read their dogeared copy of Mein Kampf in peace.
4. “But Look What Sweden Is Doing.” The people who point to Sweden are usually the same people who will tell you that pox parties for COVID-19 are a great idea. They seem to think that Swedish health authorities were attempting to create herd immunity by letting people get infected.
That is not the case. Health authorities in Sweden didn’t respond any differently to COVID-19 than their counterparts in the rest of the world did. They strongly recommended social distancing, and most Swedes followed their advice. It’s just that non-essential businesses were allowed to remain open and public gathering places were not shut down.
At any rate, there is no guarantee of herd immunity with COVID-19. Period.
By keeping businesses and parks open, Sweden took a tremendous gamble and won…for now. Sweden could still be hit hard by the pandemic.
3. Germ theory Denial. Germ theory denial is one of those impossibly weird, somewhat fascinating rabbitholes of derp that makes for interesting reading. Until a pandemic hits. Then it becomes impossibly frustrating and somewhat dangerous. Obviously, people who believe pathogens are a byproduct of disease rather than the cause of disease are not going to take any preventive measures that make any sense during this time. They’re not going to self-isolate, wear masks. or sanitize surfaces they’ve used. Maybe they’ll wash their hands, but only because they like clean hands. Stay away from these people and use their social media posts to educate people about germ theory, just in case there are any fence-sitters reading the comments. Don’t engage the deniers themselves, though; that will just drive you insane.
2. People who think the economy can magically “reopen” if restrictions are lifted. If every travel restriction was lifted tomorrow and every non-essential business opened its doors, the economy would still not revive to pre-pandemic levels. The vast majority of people will continue to self-isolate. They will not be going to movies, joining golf tournaments, traveling to resorts, taking the kids to theme parks or trying on clothes at The Gap – not in large enough numbers to make a real difference, anyway. If someone you know insists that the economy is only suffering because of draconian health orders, ask them when they’re booking their next flight to Vegas or having their next spa day in a roomful of sweaty strangers. Chances are you’ll hear “Uh, I’m not quite ready for that.”
1. People who think restrictions are designed to limit their freedoms. This group includes people who think Bill Gates planned the pandemic, based on a modeling exercise. It also includes people who compare self-isolation to the death camps of the Holocaust, refer to facemasks as “Communist burqas”, etc. The theories vary, but the central idea is the same: THEY are using a bogus (or exaggerated) pandemic to control you and strip away your rights, while deliberately tanking the economy so that Communists can take over the world.
There isn’t much you can do with these people who decide to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones by joining public protests (though Alex Jones’ ex-wife is pushing for legal action). The most you can do is stay the hell away from them. Once someone close to them dies or they get sick themselves, they might start to take the pandemic more seriously and shift their priorities. That’s what happened to the family of Gerald Glenn, a Virginia pastor who defied public health orders to keep his church open shortly before his death from COVID-19. They are now begging people to take all the health precautions they can.
Bonus! Meat Freakouts. Yes, there probably will be meat shortages in some areas as processing plants close due to COVID-19 outbreaks. And the meat that remains will be expensive. The good news is that unless you’re an athlete or a combat medic or in some other high-performance field, only about 10-30% of your daily diet needs to come from protein, and there are countless sources of it.
If you’re living with a meat freaker, I suggest gently easing them into the world of legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, soy-based products, etc. You won’t run out of ideas. There are so many veg recipes online that you could eat a different meal every day for years. Remember, in some parts of the world meat has never been a staple food because of poverty and/or religious restrictions. You’re going to survive a temporary low-meat diet. I promise.
If you have to deal with someone who refuses to even try soy products only because they think soy causes hormonal disruptions and feminizes men, do the following:
- Point them towards studies that show soy does no such thing, as well as studies that indicate health benefits of soy consumption.
- Get better friends.
Bonus Bonus! “I Refuse to Live in Fear!” There are people who, while they might not be germ deniers or protesters, still refuse to refuse to wear masks or gloves because they think it shows weakness, fear or paranoia. They don’t want their kids to become nervous, antisocial homebodies. They believe that someone or other is trying to make them feel ashamed of their body’s natural excretions and functions.
I get what they’re saying, to some degree. I mean, you want your kids to wash their hands, but you don’t want them to become lifelong germophobes. You don’t want them to get the impression that their bodies are filthy and scary, or that every cough or sniffle is a lethal weapon. That’s why it’s important to sit your kids down and explain that we’re not doing any of these things out of fear. We’re doing them because we love other people and want them to be just as safe and healthy as we are.