Nowadays, there are many CORONA CONSPIRACIES on the Internet. To name a few:
The coronavirus was created by the Chinese scientists in a research-laboratory, in Wuhan, China. It got released into the population, accidentally.
A more sinister version imagines an intentional release. Not clear to me for what purpose other than to cause harm to the Chinese people and then to the rest of the world. A government-sponsored bio-terrorism, but starting with its own people? Far-fetched, to say the least.
A Chinese government-official (Zhao Lijian) countered these Chinese-Origin theories by suggesting that the virus was created in a military-lab in the USA, then brought to and released in Wuhan by the US Army, intentionally of course.
Nowadays, this sinister US-Origin theory and it’s various versions have their adherents, even in the US.
Blaming it on 5G: Dr. Thomas Cowan, MD. champions the conspiracy theory that the new internet technology 5G launched by the mobile-companies in 2020 has initiated the coronavirus pandemic. New technology, evil results. Rather obvious and expected, according to many conspiratorial-minds around the globe.
The most bizarre one for me is the conspiracy theory purporting that Bill Gates started the coronavirus pandemic!
Yes, it’s a fact that Gates warned us, in a TED-Talk he gave in 2015 (now watched by tens of millions on the Internet), that a coronavirus-like pandemic was coming, and that we were not ready for it. Moreover, because of our lack of preparedness, it would cause a massive global devastation, both medically and financially.
Now, some conspiracy-theorists are going from that very wise and timely warning by Gates in 2015 to claiming that he started it all. For a rather poorly-specified benefit to himself. May be world-domination? Financial gain?
Don’t ask me how Gates could have done this (technically and morally), but the mind of a conspiracy-theorist works very differently. I bet this is not what the late Steve Jobs had in mind, when he said ” Think Differently”. But, I’m now convinced that if Jobs were alive today, there would be another wild conspiracy-theory out there accusing him of starting this pandemic, too.
When I first noticed the corona conspiracies on the Internet, I tried to deal with them with some humor. Please see my post on March 14th on Facebook : “CORONA, PANDEMONIA, PARANOIA”:
Now, I don’t feel like being humorous anymore about the serious issue of multiplying corona conspiracies. I want to try to figure out how we, the regular, non-conspiratorial folks, can deal with them best. Before they really hurt the legitimate, often heroic efforts to fight this global pandemic.
I’m a scientist by training, therefore I’ll try to approach the question of whether a conspiracy theory is true or false, like a scientist would approach a scientific puzzle: she/he will investigate the evidence; conduct experiments if possible; collect and analyze the data in an unbiased way.
Then, she/he will come to a conclusion and report the results (conclusion subject to further change, if new evidence to the contrary comes forth).
In this process, the tradition is to put significant trust in the scientists’ expertise to solve a particular problem. In their goodwill and honesty, too. We also want other scientists to scrutinize as well as to reproduce and verify the reported results, before we take them as facts.
At every step of the way, this scientific process is challenging, it is open to error, and even to cheating. But, through this tried-and-true process, the truth eventually emerges, as the history of science proves.
Science keeps moving forward with a better understanding of how the Universe really works. Not to mention the steady arrival of new science-based technological and medical advances that can benefit all Humanity.
What I described here is not just a hypothetical process for me: As a young biochemist, and with the help of my close laboratory-associates, I had the good fortune to actually solve a fundamental scientific-problem in bioenergetics at it’s time (1977): the enzymatic-mechanism of ATP synthesis in living-cells.
If you’d like to find out more on this, please watch the recent documentary-film on YouTube (12 min): “Celik Kayalar on his ART and SCIENCE. Interview by Prof. Peter Selz” :
All well and good, but how does this apply to solving a problem like a given corona conspiracy theory being true or false? There, It’s not just the difficulty of gathering reliable evidence, but deciding who the “gatherers” would be.
We can always put together a commission, a group of expert investigators, but what if they were part of the conspiracy themselves, and/or have a big stake in the outcome of their investigation.
Conspiracy theories are always about big, consequential events with high stakes, otherwise nobody would bother talking about them, right?
Furthermore, those who are investigating a particular conspiracy may be intimidated, threatened or simply bought by the original conspirators, presumably a powerful group or individual who is up to no good, to begin with.
The dangerous futile-cycle of a conspiracy theory could be very difficult to break, indeed. Therefore, let’s not give into any of the corona conspiracies out there. Let’s not try to pull any scientists into this futile-cycle either. Right now, we need all the scientists available out there for fighting the actual pandemic, itself.
I’d like to end by re-stating what I believe how the coronavirus pandemic got initiated and spread (based on the consensus among the majority of highly respected scientists around the world).
Quoting from my post on Facebook/The Traffick, on April 10th, 2020:
“The spread of the coronavirus originated from wild-animals – such as bats – where it does not cause disease, then jumped to humans where it does. The initial jump most likely occurred in Wuhan, China.
This kind of dangerous pathogen-jump from animals to humans happens frequently and at many areas around the world. It’s not restricted to just one area. In the case of the coronavirus, it became a deadly global pandemic for humans, spreading very fast from it’s center of origin. Traveling humans as the carriers of the virus led to it’s global spread“.
Oh, oh! I can almost hear a new conspiracy-theory coming! Or, am I just being paranoid?
Wishing you all good health, safety and peace of mind in these challenging times.
Celik Kayalar, PhD.
Former research-associate and faculty in life-sciences at MIT, UC Berkeley and UCLA.