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Conspiracy theories find fertile ground during Covid crisis

Siddie Friar, Reporter

What do the death of Jesus, the death of Princess Diana, JFK’s assassinaton, Bigfoot sightings, aliens, and 9/11 have in common? They each have interesting, if not wild, conspiracy theories connected to them. 

Around the world there are scores of people who believe that the government, large organizations, or secretive companies are colluding in hiding ‘the truth’ from the public. While the Covid-19 pandemic has swept the globe, some new conspiracy theories have been gaining traction. 

A survey of 2,500 people done by Cambridge University Press looking at how people perceived these theories found that 25 percent of those questioned showed “a consistent pattern or very high levels of endorsing those ideas.”

5G and Covid-19

A popular theory has linked 5G to the spread of COVID-19. The theory suggests that the millimeter wave spectrum used by 5G technology helps to spread the virus, and points to reports about Wuhan installing 5G towers before the outbreak. Some believers went so far as to set cell phone towers on fire in the United Kingdom. 

Theories suggesting 5G is dangerous have been around for years, but what’s new is the linking to the spread of the virus which some say is part of a ‘depopulation project.’ None of these claims have been proven and the Journal of Medical Internet Research published a study about this theory in particular, how it spread and how to combat ‘fake news’ in the future. 

Bill Gates wants to microchip the planet through vaccines or use vaccines for depopulation projects

Bill Gates has been the recipient of some special attention through the pandemic. Anti-vaxxers, members of QAnon and right-wing pundits have used footage of Gates in 2015 talking about the Ebola outbreak and the potential for future outbreaks to support their claims that Gates had prior knowledge of the Covid pandemic and helped to purposely cause it. 

Conspiracies about vaccines have been around for a long time, the latest suggest that Bill Gates plans to use future Covid vaccines to microchip the population. (photo from unsplash.com)

A variant on this suggests that Gates wants to use this opportunity to vaccinate the global population and secretly implant microchips to track and control us somehow. While The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does do global work on vaccination programs, Snopes says the rest is not true but many people still believe it. 

Covid-19 itself is a hoax – “Plandemic”

This one has been touted by famous conspiracy theorists like David Icke and Alex Jones who suggest that the pandemic is just a plot by the globalist elite to ‘take away our freedoms.’ There are other theories similar to this but they acknowledge the virus does exist but that it is part of a plot by the ‘deep state’ to undermine the president, or by big pharma to make us buy drugs. The 22-minute long ‘Plandemic Documentary’ first hit the internet May 4 and racked up millions of views on YouTube and Facebook before it was taken down. It weaves a wild tale about a murderous government plot spearheaded by infectious disease expert Anthony Facui as a sort of puppet master. One of its main premises is that masks activate the virus, which is why it was ultimately taken down. 

Several outlets have verified that these allegations are indeed false, but that hasn’t stopped a surge of so-called ‘Covid Parties,’ where someone who has been diagnosed with the virus throws a party to see if others actually get infected, to see if it’s real or not. Most recently a 30-year-old man in Texas died after contracting the virus at such a gathering. 

Pizzagate and Adrenochrome

The pizzagate theory originally surfaced in 2016. The premise is that Hillary Clinton, and others from the ‘ruling elite and Hollywood’ were running a child trafficking ring in various places across the country. Perhaps the most well known location was that of Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, in Washington D.C. where a man drove from North Carolina, assault rifle in hand, to ‘free the children and expose the corruption.’ He arrived, fired a few shots hoping to be a hero, only to find your run-of-the-mill pizza joint. This theory has since been debunked by numerous sources but hard-core believers are not dissuaded and the theory has regained popularity with some new caveats. 

Perhaps the most interesting is the harvesting of ‘adrenochrome.’ The adrenochrome conspiracy is that Hollywood/the liberal elite are torturing children to stimulate their bodies to produce adrenochrome, which is then consumed by drinking their blood. Adrenochrome is either addictive or part of a Satanic ritual — opinions differ on this. Many believers think that a slew of Hollywood celebs have come down with Covid after ingesting a tainted batch of the stuff. There is no evidence to support these claims. 

Wayfair joins the child trafficking ranks

Theories around elites being involved in child trafficking schemes are rampant, which is understandable considering the facts that were revealed in the high-profile Epstein case last year. 

Screenshot of the suspiciously priced cabinets on Wayfair’s website.

Unconnected to that, the new theory is that Wayfair, the home goods and furniture seller, is now also selling trafficked children via high priced cabinets carrying the names of missing children. 

Wayfair has denied the allegations, and Snopes has declared this theory false but that hasn’t stopped its proliferation.

Police and/or government agencies use fireworks to punish protestors

This theory emerged after a series of large scale firework displays during May/June in New York. It suggests that the fireworks were meant to cause sleep deprivation, leading to tension and confusion in neighborhoods that have been protesting police brutality, as well as being used as a desensitization tactic to get the population used to incredibly loud noises.

A fireworks retailer that was interviewed by The Atlantic stated that his company has seen a 60 percent increase in sales and suspects that “amateur pyrotechnics have become popular because fireworks shows have been canceled, vacations are off, and there’s nothing to do. People have been stuck inside. They want to set things on fire.” There isn’t anything conclusive on this yet, but some people suspect since most fireworks displays were cancelled this year everyone set off their own, including large displays. 

75-year old man at NY protest was an antifa agent provocateur 

Trump’s tweet echoed a OANN segment about a report from a website called the Conservative Treehouse, which alleges Gugino “was attempting to capture the radio communications signature of Buffalo police officers.” The report states that the “capture of communications signals … is a method of police tracking used by Antifa to monitor the location of police.” Neither OANN nor the Conservative Treehouse offered any evidence to support their claims about Gugino, who is a longtime peace activist from Amherst, according to The Buffalo News. It has since been laid to rest, but that hasn’t stopped the continuation of the demonization of antifa by Trump and his supporters. 

While some theories go viral, others are relegated to the darkest corners of the internet, but even the most far-fetched theories may be able to help us learn about ourselves.

The BBC suggests that “there are patterns hidden in their strangeness. The latest thinking suggests that conspiracy theories are filtered by a kind of natural selection, which allows those that fit certain requirements to spread rapidly through our societies.”

They found that the most popular theories have a tendency toward the following: they have convincing culprits, they tap into collective anxieties, they promote a kind of tribalism that makes us feel connected to something larger, they pander to uncertainties or gaps in knowledge, and they promote the idea of ulterior motives by a select group. 

While some theories are largely harmless, some can be damaging to individuals and groups. When navigating the strange corners of conspiracies it may be useful to keep this guide to conspiracy theories written by professors from The University of Bristol, and The University of Western Australia. It was originally written as a response to climate change denial but has application across conspiracy theories. 

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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1 Comment

One Response to “Conspiracy theories find fertile ground during Covid crisis”

  1. David L Howells on July 16th, 2020 8:43 am

    Inclusiveness is a rallying term among the rising masses. This article can rest under that umbrella given how many seemingly different but hauntingly similar conspiracy theories we are exposed to. I’d imagine Y2K would snuggle in under that blanket.

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Conspiracy theories find fertile ground during Covid crisis