That Other Epidemic

Speaking with a good friend recently, the subject turned to the coronavirus that continues to spread, now infecting 6.5 million and closing in on 200,000 deaths.

“Jim, you need to check out a website a friend of mine sent. It explains about some of the many fallacies about the virus. It also talks about how Dr. Fauci is making money from the drug company that makes Remdesivir. I’ll send you the link,” he says.

Plandemic,” the documentary, has spread as fast as the wildfires that are engulfing the western states.

“Guided by the meticulous work of Dr. David E. Martin,” the website begins, “Plandemic II: Indoctornation, tracks a three decade-long money trail that leads directly to the key players behind the COVID 19 pandemic. Plandemic II connects the dots between all forms of media, the medical industry, politics and the financial industry to unmask the major conflicts of interests with the decision makers that are currently managing this crisis.”

Sounds impressive and scary doesn’t it, particularly when it implies that a cabal “of media, the medical industry, politics and the financial industry” appear to be behind the scheme. What the author of the site has shrewdly done on the opening page is to answer the obvious question from readers in advance – Why hasn’t this been reported by the medical and media establishments?

If you believe the website, they’re all part of the scheme.

However, in researching this theory, I could find no medical journal or science journal reporting such information.

And here’s something else that I found surprising. The two largest social media sites known for propagating past conspiracy theories, YouTube and Facebook, removed the video from their websites because the information violated their standards.

After viewing the documentary, I Google-searched, Chrome-searched and Firefox-searched looking for any site or organization that supports the information in “Plandemic,” and found none.

I did however, find a boatload of reliable sites that offer a starkly different view.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, reports “…virologist Judy Mikovits claims the new coronavirus is being wrongly blamed for many deaths. She makes head-scratching assertions about the virus—for instance, that it is ‘activated’ by face masks.

“Mikovits also accuses Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a prominent member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, of being responsible for the deaths of millions during the early years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The video claims Mikovits was part of the team that discovered HIV, revolutionized HIV treatment, and was jailed without charges for her scientific positions.

Science fact-checked the video. None of these claims are true.”

I found at least 20 sites that debunk the claims. Among them:

Reuters the international news organization that’s been around since 1851 carries the headline, False claim: ‘Plandemic’ video on COVID-19”

National Public Radio: “Seen ‘Plandemic’? We Take A Close Look at The Viral Conspiracy Video’s Claims”

I spent two days researching the claims in the documentary before responding to my friend.

“While the video is compelling,” I wrote, “I’ve read much that runs counter to what is described.” I then offered a list.

“Fact-checking ‘Plandemic 2’: Another video full of conspiracy theories about COVID-19” – Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-check organization that’s part of the Poynter research center.

In fact, Poynter takes you through the process of how they determine fact or fiction in stories like these. “7 methods journalists used to dismantle the ‘Plandemic’ video”

“The Falsehoods of the ‘Plandemic’ Video” – FactCheck.org

FactCheck provides a laundry list of checks on the issues discussed in the video. They also posted a story regarding claims against Dr. Anthony Fauci, “Fauci Didn’t Invent, Won’t Profit from Remdesivir”

The conservative Washington Times: ” ‘Plandemic’ sequel faces swift social media pushback over coronavirus misinformation”

“Snopes Debunks ‘Plandemic’ — One viral video has led to a tidal wave of misinformation”

“FACT-CHECK: Plandemic Indoctrination Video and The Truth Behind the Conspiracy Movie Claims”TechTimes.

The AP (Associated Press) website has links to a variety of stories on the inaccuracy of “Plandemic.” (Type, “Plandemic” into their search engine.)

“Meet the Ojai dad who made the most notorious piece of coronavirus disinformation yet”The Los Angeles Times

Wikipedia has, perhaps, the longest reference list (52) sources challenging “Plandemic.”

And this brings up a good question. How can you trust the fact-checkers? Answer: They are part of The International Fact-Checking Network.

I next searched: “Who supports the documentary, “Plandemic”? I could not find a single organization or individual, other than the site, itself.

The New York Times carries an interesting story about how fast the video went viral compared to other false stories.

Of course, die hard conspiracy fans will simply say that all these organizations are part of the same cabal along with key politicians and financial execs. (How do all these people coordinate their stories? Is there a cabal convention, somewhere?)

I sent this list to my friend.

“Thanks for your input, Jim,” they wrote back. “It’s hard to know who to believe, especially when one side produces so many documents (possibly created for their video), and then all of the counter arguments disclaiming that information. Is it false and then trying to be proved so, or true and trying to be covered up?”

We are in the midst of another epidemic. Conspiracy theories seem to be more prevalent than ever due in large part to social media and those who tend to believe well-meaning friends instead of the experts. That’s not to say that the friend is untrustworthy. It just means that before we believe and pass along such controversial claims, we need to be willing to spend a little time to check the facts.

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