Right now, as you read this, a battle is being waged against an invisible enemy. Not COVID-19, oh no. Those tents set up in Central Park, you think those were for treating coronavirus patients? You poor, blind sheep. Can you handle the truth? It’s all a cover. The quarantine is a cover for a secret rescue operation. The ground beneath Central Park is filled with tunnels where Hillary Clinton and other satanic Democrats have been keeping children as sex slaves, harvesting their adrenal glands, and occasionally feasting on their flesh.
But don’t despair! Our great President, Donald J. Trump, last month gave the order for patriots in our military to rescue the mole children. (Tragically, after being kept underground for most of their lives, some of them are now deformed.) They stormed the tunnels and brought those children out into safety, treating them in the tents and then transferring them to the ships in the harbor under cover of darkness and quarantine. You may have heard stories of earthquakes around that time? Ha. More cover stories. Explosions. They were blowing those tunnels to hell.
What? You don’t believe me? You want to know what evidence I have? I’m so glad you asked!
My source is a government insider with top security clearance. They go by “Q” online to protect their anonymity.
You’ve heard that QAnon is a crazy conspiracy theory? Well of course you have! That’s what they want you to think.
You want to see evidence of a mole child who’s been rescued from the tunnels? The evidence is Q’s word for it, and photos of soldiers setting up pack-n-plays in a tent. Trump can’t let too much proof of this leak out just yet; he’s got a lot more Satan-worshipping pedophiles to track down in preparation for The Storm. (The day he finally has them mass arrested and sent to Guantanamo.) Plus, there are tents. There’s a quarantine. At the same time. What more evidence do you need?
You say I can’t prove there were child sex slaves in tunnels under Central Park? Oh yeah? Why don’t you prove there weren’t child sex slaves in tunnels under Central Park? Were you there? Have you been inside the tents at night? Have you tunneled under the ground in Central Park to see for yourself? Didn’t think so. You can’t prove they weren’t there.
Honestly, I feel sorry for you. Your eyes haven’t been opened yet. You’re not connecting the dots. You’re just following all the other sheeple blindly along.
Okay, that’s enough of that. The above illustration is a real thing that real people really believe. Tens of thousands of them believe it. QAnon is a conspiracy theory that claims that a cabal of liberal Hollywood stars, Democrat politicians, and high-ranking government officials are running an international child sex-trafficking ring, and Donald Trump is secretly taking them down behind the scenes. Now when you see photos of Trump rallies with people wearing or holding up the letter “Q,” you’ll know why. I share this with you because while QAnon is one of the most fringe examples, there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there right now, especially on the far right, and they’re gaining a concerning amount of popularity.
The current President first rose to political prominence due to his pushing of a conspiracy theory: that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Since then, he has repeated debunked antivax claims that vaccines cause autism as late as 2015. He repeated a National Enquirer story insinuating that Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate JFK. He believed so much in the totally baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked DNC emails that it helped lead to his impeachment. He has repeatedly retweeted accounts with QAnon in their bios, and even tweets with QAnon hashtags, lending legitimacy to the movement and cementing their belief that he is with them, that he is allowing this secret information out a little at a time, to those with the wisdom to see.
Add in a constant drumbeat of “Journalists are the Enemy of the People,” “IMPEACHMENT HOAX!” and vague “Deep State” accusations, and it’s not surprising that widespread acceptance of conspiracy theories is growing on the far right.
What is surprising is how acceptance of conspiracy theories—and inability to recognize conspiracy theories—is growing in the middle, far from the fringes. This week, as many of you know, a “documentary” called Plandemic went viral on Facebook and other platforms. I personally saw dozens of my FB friends share the video, and scores of comments ranging from “Big if true,” to “I knew it!”
At first I ignored it, because the subtitle alone could not have shouted “conspiracy theory” any louder.
But so many people posted it, I decided I ought to watch so I could form my own opinion. Only a few minutes in, I couldn’t understand why so many people were sharing the video uncritically. Judy Mikovits, PhD, star of the movie, claims she was arrested, dragged from her home in shackles, and held without charges, all wrongfully, all because she’d written a breakthrough paper that was later stolen from her by colleagues. She claims, straight-faced, that she has no Constitutional rights. I kept expecting, any second, for the filmmakers to produce evidence to back up her claims. A photograph, a document, witnesses. They never did. We were obviously meant to accept her word as gospel truth.
The entire movie went on that way. One woman’s claims, a few anecdotes, and some YouTube videos whose makers were never even identified. That was the sum total of the “evidence” of a sinister global plot to take over our lives.
The rest of the day, as I watched person after person after person share that video unquestioningly, all I could think was, “Public education has failed us.”
It took me 30 minutes of Googling to learn that Judy Mikovits is a darling of alt-right conspiracy theorists, appearing on the antivax misinformation website, Natural News. The breakthrough paper she touts in Plandemic was withdrawn due to errors, and because it was impossible to replicate (a fatal flaw, which we all learned about in school studying the scientific method). She was fired from her job. (She later filed a suit against her former employer, which the court eventually dismissed when she repeatedly failed to comply with court orders.) She was arrested, and while she claims she was held without charges, a website that tracks “the scientific process” has had an article up since 2011 citing the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department website as listing her being arrested and charged with “a felony violation of California Penal Code section 1551.1,” a “Fugitive from the Law” statute. (It seems she had gone on the run with lab items she’d stolen from her former employer, and which they’d already sued her to recover.) I also learned that the claims of two doctors featured prominently in the “documentary,” that we shouldn’t wear masks and should immediately end the lockdowns, have already been thoroughly debunked by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, an epidemiologist from UC Irvine, a biologist from the University of Washington, and other ER doctors.
This woman and this film are plainly untrustworthy.
And yet, the video spread like a virus.
Confirmation bias is one heck of a drug. We are all susceptible to it. I know I am—though since I’ve been in the wilderness, I think it has been easier to withstand. Yourbias.is puts it frankly: “We are primed to see and agree with ideas that fit our preconceptions, and to ignore and dismiss information that conflicts with them.” If you think the lockdowns have gone on too long, if you think the WHO has bungled the response to this virus, if you don’t trust the government, if you think there’s corruption in Big Pharma—all of which are rational beliefs to hold—you’re primed to agree with a “documentary” that confirms your beliefs. You may just watch it, nodding your head, saying “This all rings true,” and hit share, never noticing that there wasn’t an ounce of evidence to back it up. It felt right.
Then, when somebody points out that Ms. Mikovits was fired, you feel defensive. “Of course she was!” you say. “She was a whistleblower!” When they point out that she was arrested: “She was falsely accused! They had to keep her quiet.” When they tell you she’s unreliable and has credibility issues: “Well, it makes sense that there would be negative information about her out there. Powerful people want to make her look bad.”
This is a hallmark of conspiracy theories. They are out to get the truth-tellers, so any evidence countering the truth-tellers’ claims or calling their credibility into question is automatically dismissed. It becomes quite literally impossible to argue against; the claimant becomes bulletproof.
“But if even half of this is true…!” I saw this yesterday. Why would half of it be true? If your source is not credible, if you’ve already caught them in multiple lies, why would you assume any of what they’re telling you is true? And even if it is, how can you possibly determine which half is true and which half is crazy talk?
“Well, it doesn’t mean that every single thing she says is false. Why don’t you refute her claims instead of her?” I saw this, too, and this one is a doozy. On the surface, it sounds reasonable. Until you realize that in order to comply, you’d have to spend days and weeks of your life researching the wide array of accusations she made in that video, everything from patents that Anthony Fauci may or may not hold, to whether Bill Gates’s participation in vaccine development is philanthropic or nefarious, to whether there are beneficial bacteria in the ocean that boost our immune systems when we swim. This is where Brandolini’s Law comes into play (please pardon the French): “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” Put more colloquially: A lie is halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on.
I’m not going to spend days and weeks of my life refuting Judy Mikovits’s claims. I shouldn’t have to. She has no credibility. The burden of proof is on her and the filmmakers, and they offered none. Why should I be expected to prove a negative? Why should anyone?
How about this: I’ll prove there’s no global plot to take control of our lives just as soon as you prove there were no child sex slaves imprisoned in tunnels under Central Park.