A lie can travel twice around the world before the truth can put its shoes on, says the modern version of a frequently appropriated axiom by Jonathan Swift. And this is especially true when the first thing billions of people do when we wake up is check the news on our phones and social media feeds. This is why, as we’re stuck at home refreshing that doomsday highlight reel of modern dystopia mid-pandemic, we’re bombarded with conspiracy theorists’ latest efforts to convince us that an evil, obviously Satanic cabal is responsible for everything from COVID-19 to the time their car got a flat tire as they were running late for work.
One of their latest and most talked about efforts is the very professionally produced conspiracy series Plandemic, which takes all the greatest hits of the anti-vaccine movement and dials them to eleven before ripping the knob off in invoking COVID-19 because that’s the crisis on which all of us are currently focused. Its main allegation? That the pandemic which has us sheltering in place is a bioweapon designed to scare us into getting vaccinated by amoral billionaires using vaccines as a way to keep us sick and dependent on the evils of science-based medicine.
In short, it’s the anti-vaxxer version of screaming fire in a crowded theater, blocking the exits, then saying “now that I’ve got your attention, you have to look at my pamphlet” with references to the coronavirus hastily scribbled in at the margins. The minute you strip away the tie in to the hottest disease of the year, Plandemic’s allegations are just well worn and long-debunked tropes, and its creator, Mikki Willis, is downright beaming with pride that it’s been removed from Facebook and YouTube for spreading dangerous misinformation, claiming that the very sinister elites trying to vaccinate us into sickness are just scared their nefarious plots are being exposed.
This is, of course, a classic trope of every conspiracy theory. You claim that it reveals some sort of malevolent plot against the viewers, then, when challenged, double down on everything you said and declare that any criticism or refusal to give your views a wider audience isn’t genuine but manufactured by paid for shills and trolls on the villains’ payroll. You, the conspiracy theorist are never wrong. You’re merely opposed by the forces of evil and its minions. That’s the act that Willis and his first guest, Dr. Judy Mikovits, are putting on as they try to rally fellow anti-vaxxers to their defense.
Willis, is deeply steeped in the feel-good woo and cargo cult science promoted by Marianne Williamson, the kind of thinking which sees disease the same way plague doctors did: as an imbalance of the humors. Only while plague doctors had the excuse that they were trying their best in times before germ theory, people like Williamson are outright ignoring 200 years of science and discoveries. So it’s not a surprise that his thesis revolves around evil billionaires pumping us full of vaccines to make us sick and compliant, a thesis he may as well have stolen from conspiracy klaxon David Icke, then omitted the shape-shifting immortal aliens to sell it to a wider audience.
Essentially, the anti-vaccine/natural medicine view boils down to three basic ideas. First, if you eat healthy food, avoid the heavily processed junk on store shelves, and get plenty of exercise, you’ll eliminate not only most sources of chronic disease, but every type of cancer and genetic disorder in existence. Science largely agrees with the idea that healthy diet and exercise habits will keep you alive longer and that there’s entirely too much heavily processed crap pushed into our diets at great detriment to our physical and mental health. It doesn’t agree with the idea that blueberry smoothies and yoga will make you invincible because that’s asinine.
But this attitude is woven into Plandemic from the get-go, as its opening blurb claims that John D. Rockefeller was a secret Nazi eugenicist who brainwashed doctors into declaring “all natural healing modalities” to be quackery and nonsense because they stood in his way of controlling the population with mandatory doses of “immune-suppressive, synthetic, and toxic drugs,” by which they mean vaccines. This is the second core tenet of anti-vaccine conspiracy-mongering. If doctors disagree that some guru can fix a problem with the power of valerian root and positive thinking, they’re secret Nazi co-conspirators in on the plan to poison and sicken you with vaccines and drugs.
And that brings us to the third and final tenet of anti-vaxx dogma: everything wrong with the world can and should be blamed on vaccines and Big Pharma who are making people sick either to cull the population for the evil cabal that runs the world, or to sell them worthless synthetic drugs instead of the “all-natural” supplements and diet plans that could raise the dead if the monsters in charge of Big Science allowed it. According to Plandemic, right now, we’re in a culling period as the malevolent globalist elites are trying to build demand for their evil vaccines with a synthetically engineered virus, and they intend to make the case for this claim with an absolute mountain of nonsensical drivel.
Even Willis seems to understand that he’s making a serious leap to conclusions by leading with the now-classic “Nazi billionaires are poisoning you for fun and profit and will destroy you if you disobey” angle — which we’ll get to in due time, I promise — by declaring that it’s not a synopsis for a horror movie with all the believability of a comic book hero declaring that his fight has real stakes “unlike some comic book.” But if we’re truly being poisoned by our evil overlords, how successful are they at making us sicker and weaker? Not very, as the relevant stats will quickly show. In fact, we’re actually healthier than at any point in recorded history.
We’re living longer than ever and our leading causes of death are chronic diseases related to aging, rather than infectious ones of 100 years ago, when Plandemic says the diabolical plans to suppress our immune systems were hatched. In fact, we more than halved the expected annual mortality rate from just about everything since 1910 and doubled our life expectancy. (Which is different from lifespans, a nitpicky but important distinction.) Those in developed nations even gained an average of 10 centimeters in height thanks to better nutrition and medical care over the last 150 years. In other words, our poisoners are absolute crap at their jobs.
But why do people feel like we’re sicker and getting worse? Well, there’s a wide variety of both legitimate and imaginary reasons. Inactivity thanks to inflexible, monotonous desk jobs, poor dietary habits, a lack of exercise, and daily immersion in political turmoil definitely make us feel bloated, sick, and stressed out. TV and social media charlatans do the rest, blaming these ills on “toxins” and invoking scary chemical names in everyday products to get us to buy their snake oil, potions, and lotions. In other words, the very people Willis promotes want us to feel sick so we make them money and prey on our very real health shortcomings.
So, of course, Plandemic completely ignores the successes of medicine over the last century to boldly proclaim that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It’s a popular notion that comes from a grossly misrepresented study that tried to tally all medical errors and came up with a rate of 250,000 unfortunate patients per year. But the real number is closer to 5,200 per year, which is a tenth of lives lost to suicide and intentional self-harm and barely registers in the top 50 of all causes of American mortality. If you were an evil Illuminati minion evaluating the work of the poisoners you hired to cull humanity, you’d be giving them an absolutely scathing review.
And speaking of Nazis, where did Willis get this connection? He’s actually referring to an equity stake Rockefeller, along with some other American industrialists, had in IG Farben, the German conglomerate that would go on to be Nazified and play a pivotal role in creating poisons used in concentration and extermination camps while relying on slave labor. Because those stakes existed, they’ve been used as a jump-off point for countless conspiracy potboilers which desperately need bad guys and decided “screw it, let’s use Nazis.” (Though that said, some Americans’ coziness with fascism in the 1920s and 30s is its own nasty can of worms.)
By making the leap that having invested in IG Farben before the rise of the Nazi Party means that Rockefeller was totally on board with culling and poisoning humanity into the, um, well, the healthiest state humanity has ever been, Plandemic is once again just going down a path paved for it by countless others. Anti-vaxxers would bitterly dispute this, of course, claiming that cancer and heart disease didn’t exist until modern times, and insisting they’re the result of “poisons and toxins pumped into us” despite the fact that cancer was discovered by Ancient Greeks and Chinese mummies have a lot to say about heart disease before the Industrial Revolution, but being wrong about basic science and history is kind of their calling card anyway.
One of the biggest problems with a lot of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists is that they’re usually not researchers or doctors, which is why they need to find someone who’ll launder their cargo cult science for them. In Willis’ case, it’s Dr. Judy Mikovits who was unable to accept that her study on the origins of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was impossible to replicate, likely wrong, and had to be ultimately retracted. She ended up stealing research materials and lab equipment, fled to another state, was jailed for said theft, released when the institute at which she was employed said it was too much trouble to press charges, and ended up becoming an anti-vaccine grifter.
For the last nine years, there wasn’t a conspiracy website or video in which she’d refuse to participate, including Natural News, which is basically just a health-focused InfoWars whose editor-in-chief frequently appears alongside Alex Jones and thought he spotted evidence of the Illuminati messing with Saturn. In recent days, she even posted a YouTube video claiming that wearing a mask will make SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain ravaging the world right now, even more dangerous, an idea she based on absolutely nothing at all. Mikovits also claimed that the virus is actually the product of a botched flu vaccine from 2015, again, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
And funny enough, in Plandemic she completely undercuts her assertion that SARS-CoV-2 is just a defective flu shot to claim that it may actually be a biological weapon and that she knows it because she worked on “teaching Ebola how to infect human cells.” You see, the hemorrhagic fever was apparently harmless before her experiments in 1999 at the US bio-defense lab at Ft. Detrick. This would be very surprising to doctors who were trying to treat the first outbreaks of the disease in Sudan and Zaire in 1976, which infected 602 people and killed 431 nearly a quarter-century prior to Mikovits’ supposed weaponization of the virus, and then again in 1995 when it killed 254 more people in Zaire. In short, unless Mikovits also discovered time travel, she’s a spectacularly bad liar.
Given all this, it’s even harder to believe her claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s been trying to coordinate some semblance of a response to COVID-19 despite the sociopathy of President Trump and his son-in-law getting in his way at every turn, stole one of her research papers in a completely bizarre and nonsensical anecdote. And as a decorative bow on this full mental jacket, Mikovits also throws in praise for hydroxychloroquine, which doesn’t work as a treatment for COVID-19 and causes heart problems, because at this point, sure, why not. I’m surprised we didn’t get a rundown of QAnon while we were at it.
You can basically see her bullshit generator hard at work, trying to spout off just about every conspiracy she could think of and connect it with COVID-19, then say that because she had a paper in a prestigious journal once, she knows everything there is to know about the virus, which includes whatever she just said, no matter what it was. Perhaps the completely baseless assertion most likely to catch on from the tsunami of crap she unleashes in rapid-fire mode is the notion that SARS-CoV-2 is a biological weapon because this is exactly what the Trump administration has been implying in some of its statements.
Just like Mikovits, they provided absolutely no proof but they keep on repeating it, hoping it will stick. For her part, Mikovits says that it would’ve taken the virus 800 years to evolve to infect humans, another claim that comes with nothing more than her trying to nail herself to the cross and use her doctorate as a shield from justifiable skepticism. Unless every single disease for the last century or so was a specially engineered biological weapon, it’s taken many viruses as little as five years to jump from animals to humans, something we can see when we analyze their genomes and compare them to their evolutionary siblings.
So why would Mikovits and Trump think that the coronavirus came from China? Well, it emerged from Wuhan, a city which has one of the highest security biohazard labs in the world. If you consider that for conspiracy theorists there’s no such thing as coincidence and every bad thing that ever happens is part of a plan by a sinister cabal to hurt them, you can see how they strapped on a jet pack and made a rocket-assisted leap to conclusions. Meanwhile, China has been accusing the U.S. of the same exact malfeasance so blaming the virus on your geopolitical rivals seems to be a popular multiplayer game for today’s pathologically thin-skinned politicians.
Back in the real world, we’ve been able to trace SARS-CoV-2’s lineage and know for a fact that it couldn’t have been engineered in a lab. While it’s true that it’s the closest relative is RaTG13, a bat virus being studied at the Wuhan facility in question, there are so many differences between the strains’ that it would take thousands of viral generations to fully explain. This means the two viruses parted ways up to half a century ago, with SARS-CoV-2 acquiring a different animal as a host. Were it a biological weapon, we’d expect to see a few glaring mutations which amplify its infectious potential and leave the rest of the genome intact. Anything beyond that would carry a significant risk of compromising its destructive potential.
If the Trump administration and Mikovits stick to their guns, they’re basically telling us that not only did China decide to weaponize a virus, they had the technology and knowhow to accurately simulate thousands of generations of viral evolution and purposefully went on to infect one of its most populous cities at substantial cost to its economy, all because they either wanted to sink President Trump’s reelection chances, or because evil Nazi billionaires told them to do it so they could sell more vaccines. Then, after all that, Chinese cadres went on to accuse the U.S. of doing what they just did because why even try to make sense anymore.
It seems absurd, to put it mildly, for a government in total charge of a $13.6 trillion economy and ready to put its critics in gulags at a moment’s notice to take it on the chin both economically and socially at the call of a few rich people selling basic medicine in a scheme so harebrained, it belongs as a side gag in the Rick and Morty parody of heist movies. It would, however, make all the sense in the world that a large, geographically diverse country with vast levels of inequality and development could be home to conditions ideal for common viruses to jump between a lot of animals and eventually make it to a human in a wet market in Wuhan.
The fact that SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus isn’t even much of a surprise since years ago, this branch of viruses was eyed as a prime candidate for producing strains which could cause major pandemics. While we have bacteria and most strains of influenza under control with cocktails of antibiotics, antivirals, and vaccines, we had no treatments for coronaviruses. And sure enough, they ended up giving us SARS and MERS in less than a decade, and now SARS-CoV-2 in less than eight years after that. Just to add to the similarity, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are both viruses that started in bats, then jumped to other hosts — likely civet cats — before gaining the proteins which allow them to attack human cells.
Of course, this is not to imply an eight to ten-year pandemic cycle, but to show that we have ample proof of how dangerous coronaviruses are and how they evolve some 80 times faster than Plandemic claims they do. I can only suppose that Mikovits and Willis will probably tell us that Bill Gates and the ghost of Rockafeller is controlling viral evolution on Earth in another episode since this is just the world in which we live. The loudest, most outrageous, and most brazen voices on social media get top billing and determine how millions of people see the world, proof, facts, and reality be damned.
Ultimately it all comes down to anti-vaccination activists, their all-consuming fear of things they don’t understand and refuse to try to, and their hatred of doctors, experts, and the government. By themselves, anti-vaxx views are nothing new. Refuseniks have been around since vaccines were first invented, first arguing that they undermined God’s will that some people should die, then going the Social Darwinist route to claim that vaccines made it harder for nature to cull the weak and are undermining human evolution. Yes, this is essentially the same idea, that they’ll be fine since they’re superior stock while those who got sick and died are the dregs of humanity clearly meant for such a fate.
As people’s trust in their governments waned, often with good reason, conspiracy theories about vaccines being used for biological experiments, implantation of tracking chips, and poisoning us for both profit and population control took hold. Though again, as we discussed, if vaccines are dangerous poison, they somehow managed to help nearly double our life expectancy, and if their goal was population control, they failed miserably as well since our numbers also doubled over the past half-century. And while it’s true that population growth in developed nations has stalled, it’s due to longer lives, incessant factory-style work, lower birth rates by choice, and far better odds of survival for our kids.
Of course, when Bill Gates pointed this out in a speech and said he saw the same effects in the developing world after the introduction of modern technology, sanitation, and medicine, he was very quickly labeled a eugenic genocidary since we’re apparently supposed to want to populate our world until bursting. This is why he’s been such a big target for ever more unhinged and vocal conspiracy theorists on Facebook and Twitter, filling replies to his team’s updates with foaming at the mouth vitriol, and why he will undoubtedly make an appearance in Plandemic as a villain.
Driven by social media echo chambers, today’s anti-vaxxers are a hodgepodge of people who believe that they know more than doctors and experts because they have access to Google and know how to find opinions they agree with in the blink of an eye, anti-government conspiracy theorists, and religious zealots who still believe that God should decide who lives and dies, not doctors and scientists. Some even think their children were “injured” by vaccines since they’re hypersensitive next steps in human evolution, or “indigo kids,” which is a hell of a paradox. Your child is an ubermensch developing psychic powers but at the same time is too sensitive for a flu shot? Really? Come on.
Even worse, no amount of evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy can sway them. Even when they designed a study to test every hypothesis of how a vaccine could harm children, they went berserk the minute the results found no evidence for their claims. Luckily, their kids have been sneaking out and getting vaccinated, so there’s hope for future generations, although the fact that teenagers are now rebelling by getting their flu shots and boosters is a sad commentary on where social media addictions have gotten modern societies spoiled rotten by experts, doctors, and politicians waiting on them hand and foot.
But these anti-vaxxers are still with us, COVID-19 and social media are making them more unhinged than ever, and they’ll latch onto Plandemic like a drowning person onto a lifeboat. They’re angry, they’re scared, they don’t know who to trust, and refuse to listen to the people who actually know what they’re talking about, convinced that experts are agents of evil cabals and cults using them as guinea pigs or sacrifices in ever more complicated and asinine plots, and while Plandemic just repeats what they already believe, it gives them what every conspiracy theorist wants in a crisis: easy villains and a false sense of empowerment through a barrage of ridiculous pseudoscience.
[ this article was originally published on Rantt Media, on 05.08.2020 ]