5 More Garbage Conspiracy Theories Spreading Right Now
Hi! How are you holding up? Been getting some good exercise lately? We sure hope so, what with these COVID-19 vaccines apparently turning people into cannibal zombies and whatnot. Haven't heard that one yet? Yeah, it's part of the latest fringe theories flying all over the internet and also your mom's group chats.
There's this prevailing idea among a lot of people that what happens on the internet isn't actually real, as pointed out by this piece in The New York Times. This stems from the notion that, while people will say anything online just because they can, it doesn't mean they'll actually do what they say or even believe what they're saying to be true. Which is, quite frankly, also garbage because these "dumb social media posts" have contributed to people getting sick, getting hurt, and even getting dead. This is a real-world problem, folks, whether we like it or not. And the sooner we clear the air of this bullshit, the sooner we can go back to being worried about dancing robots.
Now, about those cannibal zombies ...
FRINGE THEORY 5: People Are Deliberately Being Killed By The COVID-19 Vaccines And/Or Turning Into Cannibal Zombies
One hand up if you saw this coming. The other hand up if you saw these headlines during the entire month of January 2021:
A lot to unpack here, but let's start with the facts. Yes, a small portion of elderly people who received the COVID-19 vaccine in Norway did pass on, but it's not because some evil group of people is out to kill us all with their evil vaccines. Those elderly people were all over 75-years-old, and were either already terminally-ill or had serious underlying health conditions. Taking into account that their bodies were already pretty fragile, it becomes fairly clear what happened here. A vaccine works in such a way that it jump-starts your body into making antibodies that can fight a virus' proteins and destroy it. Our bodies need to work during this process, and if you're healthy, it's a piece of cake. For the sick and elderly, it becomes more difficult, and health authorities are now looking into screening older patients individually to determine whether it's safe for them to receive a vaccine or not. It might be difficult for some people to fathom, but the "one cure for all" belief is just never going to work.
As for the Portuguese health care worker who died, her cause of death wasn't related to the vaccine. Neither was the passing of baseball legend Hank Aaron, even though anti-vaxxers tried real hard to exploit the fact that he received the vaccine two weeks prior to his death, simply to further their anti-vaccine theories and appeal to Black communities who, due to America's history, are skeptical about medical treatments in general. Interesting, that.
Oh, and about those cannibal zombies:
This image first started circulating in late December of 2020, and as you can see by the ... everything, it's BS. The thing about satire is that it's 1) not for everybody, and 2) can sometimes be taken way too seriously. As was the case when the original image, from a 2019 article about treating people with gunshot wounds, received a Photoshopped chyron and got posted to a meme website. Lo and behold, it was soon used and shared on social media to stoke fears of vaccines because, as we all know, nothing is scarier than being turned into a death-obsessed creature who can't think for themselves.
Related: Covid-19 Is Exposing Xenophobia
FRINGE THEORY 4: The December Nashville Bombing Was Actually A Targeted Missile Strike
On December 25, 2020, Anthony Quinn Warner drove his RV into downtown Nashville and detonated a car bomb, killing himself and injuring eight people. Before the bomb went off, Warner played a broadcast advising people to stay away from his van and immediately evacuate the area. In between the broadcast, he played "Downtown" by Petula Clark, effectively ruining the song for everybody.
With an incredible amount of witnesses and evidence at the scene, there shouldn't be much doubt about what had happened here. But, as is often the case, the one thing authorities have yet to determine is a clear motive of the suicide bomber. There was a significant amount of damage done to the surrounding buildings in the area, including a nearby AT&T service facility. It didn't take 24 hours for conspiracy theorists on sites like Parler to jump on the case and claim that the bombing was actually a missile strike. According to the most popular fringe theory, it all has to do with the supposed 2020 election fraud because conspiracy theorists like QAnon love nothing more than to see how many bonkers theories they can collect and call their own. It's like Pokemon GO for people who confuse prejudice with enlightenment.
The claim goes that AT&T apparently had a contract to conduct a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems in Nashville. You know, the company that is now suing everyone from Sidney Powell to Rudy Giuliani for alleging that they were involved in a massive voting fraud operation. The claim further states that a missile strike was ordered to destroy Dominion's machines that were moved to the AT&T facility (they weren't) and get rid of any and all evidence.
Of course, there was no audit, and there was no missile, even though some internet randos tried to convince everyone that a grainy piece of film captured the missile right before the explosion. Forget the numerous other, better footage that captured the bombing and showed absolutely no sign of even a falling goose turd kind of resembling a missile. (Or the people who were actually on the scene when the detonation happened.)
FRINGE THEORY 3: Biden Has A Chinese Communist Spy Bodyguard
Oh, hello xenophobia, there you are! What we basically have here is a bunch of Trump supporters who watched President Joe Biden's inauguration with so much scorn that they almost choked on their hatred when they spotted David Cho, a Korean-American Secret Service agent part of Biden's security detail. Naturally, they flocked to the internet boards and social platforms to point out what they and only they had figured out:
This wasn't the first time people were complaining about Biden having a "Chinese bodyguard" either. In December 2020, video footage of Biden attending church alarmed some folks when it showed him being escorted by Agent Cho. White supremacy mentality aside, if they just did the minimum amount of research, they would've learned that Agent Cho also served as part of Donald Trump's security detail. Not only that, but he was awarded a gold medal for excellent service under Trump, thanks to his efforts in negotiating the security during Trump's visit to North Korea in 2019. But no, Trump supporters will not question the motivations of their supreme leader. That would be treasonous.
FRINGE THEORY 2: Nostradamus Predicted The Fall Of The Western World Under Rule Of A "Feeble Man" And A "Jezebel."
Seriously, who would've thought that people today would put so much importance on predictions made by a 16th-century French astrologer who worked for the rich? Nostradamus and his so-called prophecies have been dissected and quoted only second to the Bible, so it's no surprise then that this image started circulating on social media following the US 2020 presidential election (and is still being shared):
Here's a less subtle version:
Oh and look! Here's one with both a Bible and a Nostradamus quote, zing!
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - Harry Potter
We're sure you've already deduced that this is not, in fact, a Nostradamus quote. The word "Jezebel" doesn't even appear in any of his writings, and researchers couldn't find a semi-similar quatrain in any of his works. It's just another case of people twisting words and giving false attributions to serve their own diabolical agendas (while being sexist, because, of course, they are). It's the sort of thing false prophets do. So, you know, irony or whatever.
This idea that the Biden presidency will cause the fall of everything is kind of a super spreader belief in these circles. Far-right blogs and news channels have been pouring out content that fits this tone for a good year now, and it only escalated once Biden became president:
But fear-driven rhetoric like this isn't that surprising because it happens every time a political party tries to cling to power. It's a strategy to keep their followers scared and, therefore, on their side because power-hungry folks love nothing more than to make people believe they're the only ones who can save them. During the final weeks of his election campaign against Biden, Trump tweeted, "It's a choice between a TRUMP BOOM or a BIDEN LOCKDOWN. It's a choice between our plan to Kill the virus - or Biden's plan to kill the American Dream!" Melania Trump went on about Biden's "socialist agenda," and, at one point in 2020, Trump said that a Biden presidency will "hurt God, hurt the Bible." It could be argued that such a statement is kind of blasphemous, but who has the energy anymore. False prophets bore false prophets. We think Maggie Simpson said that.
FRINGE THEORY 1: China Is Taking A Cue From Trump, Says Virus Came From An American Lab
Yes, the great Rock of Blame is being thrown back to the United States as Chinese government officials and their media are now saying that the virus could have come from a U.S. military lab. Thanks to some strong anti-American sentiment in China, this theory has gone viral, with the social media hashtag "American's Ft. Detrick" having been viewed by local citizens more than a billion times. This after a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry called for the World Health Organization - that's currently in Wuhan investigating the origins of COVID-19 - to go and investigate Fort Detrick, the biological weapons lab in Maryland. It's all PR and distraction from China's own shortcomings in handling the crisis to date.
On top of that, Chinese media are also spreading misinformation about the Pfizer vaccine to distract from their own poor testing outcomes. They've also cited the Norway incident mentioned at the start of this article as a sign that vaccines from other countries are dangerous and shouldn't be trusted. It really doesn't take much to see a pattern here: Make a decision, decision backfires, blame someone else. Many countries are guilty of initially downplaying the virus only to point fingers and play the Blame Game when it all went belly-up.
This is also not the first time China has tried to blame the U.S. for unleashing the virus. It's just the first time people are actually believing it. It could be because people are impatient and desperately want answers, and it could also be that it just fits their worldview narrative better.
Anyway, here's a video of robots dancing better than you.
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Top image: C-Span, M-Fotp/Shutterstock