Conspiracy Theories of COVID-19
Week of 9th March 2020
Conspiracy theories have been flying around about COVID-19. Theories started with a now-withdrawn Biorxiv publication of an unverified paper by Indian scientists. Their usage of “unlikely to be fortuitous in nature” was not viewed as incorrect observation, but became the basis of a slew of conspiracy theories. The theories can be categorized into the following:
Was the virus man-made or extracted from wildlife?
Who bio-engineered or extracted it?
How was it released (escaped from Lab or brought to China by US military)?
Was this intentionally started as a weapon or spread accidentally?
Step 1 was easily debunked by the scientists, that the virus was not man-made. But steps 2 – 4 were exactly what conspiracy theorists feed on, through imagination and coincidences. Even US politicians with no medical background chiming into this fever of folly.
Such theories, especially when reported by news sites as news, create dangerous environment for governments and WHO to focus on what is important, that is to contain the virus.
Feel free to entertain yourself with the below, but don’t get too imaginative!
From the web:
From our Chief Opinionator:
Question yourself, not the theories
Conspiracy theories are exactly just theories, unproven in real life. Theories are believed because while they haven’t been proven, they also haven’t been unproven. For example, heaven and hell are widely believed to exist by many religious followers not because there are proofs of existence of such celestial universes, but because they have not been proven to not exist.
Conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 are no different. It has always been publicly obvious that there is a war going on between US and China, be it trade, technology dominance or something else. Therefore it should also be no surprise that most conspiracy theories on COVID-19 are either the Americans (including President Donald Trump) blaming it on the Chinese, or anti-US countries blaming the US.
When it comes to conspiracy theories that cannot be debunked, one tends to believe in theories that they want to believe in. If you are anti-America, you will most likely believe in the Japanese news source that the US brought it to China through the Military World Games. If you don’t trust the Chinese government, you most likely will believe in the numerous Wuhan lab theories.
Couple this biased mindset with some imagination, you can have the wildest conspiracy theories that help make the next Oscar winner.
Truth is, conspiracy theories are dangerous. As theories turn to fake news, they distract governments and WHO from focusing on finding a cure or helping countries to deal with the situation. A good example would be in 2003, when Northern Nigeria’s politicians declared that polio vaccination was an infertile drug contaminated with HIV in order destroy the Muslim population by the West.
When a conspiracy theory takes hold, every move or useful announcement by the government is being speculated and doubted by citizens. Distrust between citizens and governments grows. Xenophobia worsens. Assaults relating to discrimination are on the rise. None of these behaviours stemming from conspiracy theories are helping the current COVID-19 situation at all.
So next time when you recognize that you have illogically decided to choose one theory over another without proof, it is time for you to stop yourself and ask, are you just choosing to believe in what you want to believe, or can you stay logical and choose not to believe at all?