As coronavirus continues to spread, conspiracy theorists have a field day

Conspiracy
Conspiracy theories spread and become popular topics of discussion because of the spread of misinformation online. It’s important to remember conspiracies are theories and are not fact until proven otherwise. (Photo courtesy of 123RF.com)

The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most unexpected things to come out of 2020. Months ago, we heard about a new virus that was breaking out in a small Chinese village, but we never thought it would affect our lives in Sacramento.

Many people still don’t believe it actually has.

There is an entire community of “truth-seekers” out there that are always looking for ways to dig deeper and understand all the aspects that surround something as big as a worldwide pandemic. When people aren’t satisfied with answers, misinformation spreads and the sleeping conspiracy theory giant awakens and spreads lies across social media and conversation.

Conspiracy theories are spreading faster than the disease itself and the fact is, nobody can set the record straight. We just have to simply acknowledge that we don’t know all the answers and we may never know. Conspiracies always stem from fear of the unknown. When people are anxious and isolated, they tend to go fishing for answers and are highly likely to believe a slew of inaccurate information.

Below are some of the most interesting conspiracy theories circulating the web right now involving the coronavirus’ origin and purpose. It’s important to remember conspiracy theories are not fact. They are just theories that sometimes can sound convincing enough to stir up entire online and social communities. Many of these theories have already been debunked by professionals.

 

1. The coronavirus was predictively programmed through novels, TV shows and films.

When the coronavirus hit and began to spread, the “truth” community couldn’t help but notice that this virus had some similarities to the fictional virus that was part of the plot of Dean Koontz’s 1981 novel “Eyes of Darkness.” In the novel, a deadly virus called “Wuhan-400” was created in Wuhan, China, which is where the COVID-19 coronavirus originated from. Although this is slightly disturbing, this theory was debunked after comparing the two viruses. There are essentially no similarities between Wuhan-400 and COVID-19. In the novel, the Wuhan-400 virus has a 100% fatality rate and eats away at brain tissue. COVID-19 has less than a 2% fatality rate with breathing related symptoms, so this is very far-fetched.

Apparently, the conspiracy community also believes the “Simpsons” predicted the coronavirus back in 1993, since “The Simpsons” have been known for their bizarre predictions over the 30-plus years they’ve been on the air, including the Donald Trump presidency. In the episode “Marge in Chains,” an outbreak of a mysterious illness called “corona virus” is reported by a newscaster. This theory was debunked very quickly, when observers noticed the screengrab used to prove this theory on social media had been altered. The actual plot of the episode focuses on an illness called “Osaka flu,” not coronavirus, and the screengrab that read “corona virus,” when reverted to the original actually read “apocalypse meow” and was from an entirely different episode. This was merely the clever work of Photoshop.

 

2. If you can’t hold your breath for 10 seconds, you have the coronavirus.

This myth came from a “self-check test” that started circulating through social media in March. The original post was written on an iPhone notes application, which should have waved red flags from the get go. The post gave a list of ways you can self-check yourself for the coronavirus. One of the checks stated if you can’t hold your breath for 10 seconds, you have fibrosis in the lungs, which is an indicator of the virus.

While some of this is true and patients with coronavirus may experience fibrosis in the lungs, this is in no way an exact indicator of contracting the virus. Some people who have tested positive can hold their breath for much longer than 10 seconds, so this is an inaccurate test.

 

3. The coronavirus was bio-engineered in a Wuhan lab as a weapon to wage war on the United States.

This theory has probably gained the most attention in the news media, because Sen. Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) publicly endorsed this theory on Fox News in February.

“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” he said in a Fox News broadcast. “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level four super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”

A British tabloid also published a story acknowledging the lab’s existence and strongly implied it was responsible for the outbreak in Wuhan. This speculation sounds convincing on the surface, however, Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, disproved this possibility with scientific fact. He told the Washington Post there’s “absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” claiming this theory could be firmly excluded.

Although science has disproved this, government officials continue to fabricate this theory, even suggesting the creation of the virus was funded by Bill Gates, who allegedly has connections to the biosafety lab outside of Wuhan.

This theory has the most attention most likely because of the spread of misinformation from both sides, since China recently declared that the United States’ military is to blame for the virus’s arrival and spread. This very well may be the U.S.’s stab back at China for falsely pointing the finger.

 

4. The coronavirus will become an excuse to declare national martial law.

This theory seemed to originate from a text that began circulating in March, claiming that with the declared state of emergency and under the Stafford Act, the president would declare martial law and institute a mandatory lockdown on the entire nation.

While the Stafford Act (a 1988 disaster relief law that allows the federal government to hand power over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its resources), is real, it does not give the president authority to issue a nationwide lockdown. The National Security Council declared this false, but it hasn’t stopped citizens who are convinced the lockdown is coming, from panic-buying and hoarding supplies. No wonder there is a nationwide toilet paper shortage.

 

5. The coronavirus is actually not real, and the sick are actually experiencing symptoms from the effects of 5G towers.

This theory is definitely one of the more far-fetched theories that is hard to believe people are falling for. Even celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, John Cusack and Wiz Khalifa are supporting the possibility of this theory on Twitter and blasting out to their millions of followers 5G may be linked to the coronavirus.

On April 1, Harrelson posted his findings on Twitter with a report titled “Role of 5G in the Coronavirus Epidemic in Wuhan China”, citing Martin L. Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, who said in his report, “5G: Great risk for EU, U.S. and International Health! Compelling Evidence for Eight Distinct Types of Great Harm Caused by Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Exposures and the Mechanism that Causes Them” that “putting in tens of millions of 5G antennae without a single biological test of safety has got to be about the stupidest idea anyone has had in the history of the world.”

On April 3, Khalifa tweeted “Corona? 5G? Or both?” implying he may be in support of this theory as well.

When this theory began to gain traction, arsonists in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe began burning down cell towers believed to have 5G technology. The Guardian reported that some of these arsonists were accidentally destroying the wrong towers that only had 3G or 4G technology. Now, at least 20 towers have been vandalized throughout Europe.

This theory originated from an article published in a small Belgian newspaper, “Het Laatste Nieuws,” where a reporter interviewed Dr. Kris Van Kerckhoven, a Belgian general practitioner with no known credentials. The headline read, “5G is life-threatening, and no one knows it.” Van Kerckhoven claimed in the interview that 5G is dangerous technology and may be linked to COVID-19.

The newspaper has since deleted the article from their website, but the conspiracy still continues to spread rapidly through various social media posts, videos and blogs.

This theory has been disproven several times, since no medical or scientific professionals have found any evidence that 5G is helping spread the coronavirus or that exposure to 5G signals, mimic or create life-threatening symptoms.

 

6. The disease was planned and funded by Bill Gates.

This theory gained traction from a Q-Anon supporter. Q-Anon is an over-the-top, far right-wing, Trump-supporting political group, and is known for stirring up massively controversial and false conspiracy theories.

The supporter, Jordan Sather, posted a link on Twitter to a 2015 patent for a coronavirus vaccine filed by the Pirbright Institute, a U.K. based organization, that suggested the government planted the virus to make money off of vaccines.

Sather than followed his post with another post with information that supposedly connected the Pirbright Institute to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The post included a link to a 2019 press release that announced the foundation would be helping to fund a project to study livestock and disease control. This speculation was set straight by Pirbright representatives.

Rolling Stone reported that Pirbright confirmed with media outlets that the 2015 patent was intended to aid the creation of a vaccine for a very specific strand of avian coronavirus found in chickens, which has not been cited in any professional records as a potential cause for COVID-19. Pirbright also confirmed that Gates had no ties to the funding of that 2015 patent whatsoever.

 

7. The virus came from consuming bats.

This was one of the first rumors that started circulating after the virus broke out, but the fact is, it has actually not yet been proven exactly where, or what animal this virus originated from. Wired reported that those who originally tested positive at the pandemic’s inception did not have any contact with live animals prior to contracting the virus.

One medical journal, the Journal of Medical Virology, suggested the virus may have actually originated from snakes. In reality, professionals have not pinpointed where this strand of coronavirus came from, and we should not be characterizing this virus by an entire country’s eating habits.

 

8. The virus is treatable by household items.

This ridiculous theory also developed out of the Q-Anon community. Q-Anon had been spreading an announcement through social media that told people to drink Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a bleach-based product, to treat and prevent coronavirus. The product contains toxic chemicals that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and acute liver failure if ingested in large amounts.

On April 26, the New York Times reported Trump started yet another bogus conspiracy that injecting disinfectants into the body could help combat the coronavirus. Any rational human being would have the capacity to recognize that form of “treatment” would not help in any way, but could be very foolish and harmful if taken seriously.

There is also information now circulating online that the coronavirus can be treated with lysol, oregano oil, oil and by gargling bleach, which have all been proven false and even hazardous since their circulation.

 

9. Hand dryers can kill the coronavirus.

This bizarre theory for treating the coronavirus originated from Chinese social media. The various posts claimed that using a hand dryer for 30 seconds is effective in killing the virus. This myth was debunked and proven false by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

10. The coronavirus is an elaborate hoax to remotely arrest hundreds of pedophiles and child sex traffickers involved in a Satanic Hollywood cult.

This was by far the most bizarre and elaborate conspiracy that has come out of this pandemic. This is a conspiracy that came out of the Q-Anon community yet again.

Q-Anon supporters started a rumor that celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenerous, Madonna, Tom Hanks, members of the royal family and high-ranking government officials are actually involved in a massive pedophile and child sex-trafficking ring, and the coronavirus is just a cover-up to distract the public and keep them unaware of the hundreds of “house arrests” taking place of the celebrities and officials involved in this Satanic pedo-cult.

Mother Jones reported that the rumor gained traction when a random YouTube user filmed a live stream saying he was personally witnessing Winfrey’s arrest at her Beverly Hills home. Critics were quick to note the footage appeared to be bogus and the house did not appear to be a residence that billionaire Winfrey would live in, and this raid was most likely unrelated police action.

Still, the video gained the attention of several Q-Anon Facebook groups who took the theory and ran with it, with essentially zero evidence of its relevance. Winfrey tweeted in response to the ridiculous accusation.

“Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE,” she tweeted on March 17. “Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self-distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.”

According to the Millennial Source, another Q-Anon post began circulating with loads of other outlandish claims including that Harvey Weinstein had made a deal exchange with the courts regarding his prison sentencing, in return for his testimony against hundreds of top Hollywood celebs involved in various illegal crimes, namely pedophilia and child sex trafficking.

Various Q-Anon Instagram pages are supporting the theory as well, and have even cited Timothy Charles Holmseth, an investigative journalist based in Minnesota, who claimed the tents being erected in Central Park in New York City to treat individuals with coronavirus, are actually there to treat hundreds of children and babies being rescued from sex-trafficking.

This theory came out of nowhere and went viral because of its obscene nature, but it has no legitimate news outlets reporting on its relevance. This is just whacky Q-Anon spewing out their twisted pedophile conspiracies through YouTube and Facebook. While this theory has not officially been debunked, its origin and fabricated details have no credibility whatsoever, and should not be taken seriously.

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