As evolved and advanced as the human brain is, it sure has some dumb coping mechanisms in times of global uncertainty and distress. As COVID-19 went from something that would "just go away" to an actual medical threat, many people turned to the warm blue glow of their phones to Google what was really going on. And boy, did the internet have answers. COVID was created in a lab. Coronavirus is just a way for Big Pharma to pump us with toxic vaccines. COVID is spread by 5G and Bill Gates!
Even though these have been disproven by scientific data and plain ole common sense, many people still cling to their precious pandemic conspiracy theories like a security blanket. It feels safe to find one person or group to blame instead of facing the idea that there are things, like amoral viruses, don't have an agenda or explanation. The thing is, the corona pandemic isn't the first time that people have reached for disease conspiracies ...
"HIV Is Just A Collective Guilt Dream!"
When the AIDS crisis began, folks were understandably panicked about a lethal disease with an unknown mode of transmission. Conspiracy angles were popping up, quicker than Alex Jones looking wack-a-moles, as to where this sickness emerged from -- ranging from "divine retribution" against the gay community, nuclear fallout poisoning, and a contaminated polio vaccine. As far-fetched (and homophobic) as some of early AIDS conspiracy theories were, none of them are as wild as HIV Denialism.
Even though the international scientific community had ample, conclusive evidence linking HIV to AIDS by 1983, some people weren't entirely convinced. In 1984, psychiatrist Casper G. Schmidt proposed a different reason as to why people were suddenly dying in droves: a group fantasy. You know the set-up to your virus explainer belongs in the trash when it's basically the same as the series finale reveal of Lost. That same year, he published "The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS" in the Journal of Psychohistory. Schmidt, who was also gay and HIV-positive, was convinced that the gay community had taken on a collective shame, which caused "an epidemic of depression with psychogenically-reduced cell-mediated immunity." He also posited that leprosy in the Middle Ages was also all just a bunch of hysterical, guilt-ridden peasants making their own skin melt off in agonizing pain.
James Le Palmer"You're only as unclean as you feel."
Schmidt died due to complications caused by AIDS in 1994 but was survived by his bullshit. There are still plenty of HIV/AIDS "Rethinkers" that took on the baton and managed to continue passing it on, despite the fact that all of these Rethinkers are dying. Leading to some HIV Denialists attributing their fallen comrades' demise to Big Pharma, drug addictions, or anything that wasn't the actual cause of their death.