Coronavirus

When an Epidemic Spreads, So Do Rumors

The biggest thing our institutions could do to stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation would be to spread less misinformation themselves.

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Some people thought the disease was a bioweapon. Others were sure the whole thing was a hoax—a story spread, one writer said, so the public would accept "restrictive curbs upon their freedoms." Another tale, fanned at times by the Chinese Communist Party, claimed that the outbreak had actually originated not in China but in the United States. In the U.S. itself, one Asian restaurant after another had to fend off whispers that a staffer had contracted the illness.

If you think those sound like the stories that have circulated since COVID-19 first emerged last year, you're right. But they all come from the SARS outbreak of 2002–03. I lifted them from An Epidemic of Rumors, a 2014 book by the folklorist Jon D. Lee. Lee in turn compared the tales he'd gathered to similar legends from the AIDS crisis.

As these stories recur, they inevitably shift to reflect the specifics of each crisis. Lee notes, for example, that the H1N1 virus of 2009 inspired many more vaccine conspiracy theories than SARS did, probably because an H1N1 vaccine was produced so quickly. But "the nature of the disease itself is almost of secondary consideration," he concludes. "Narratives are recycled from one outbreak to the next, modified not in their themes but in the specific details necessary to link the narratives to current situations."

Some of those stories have roots that go back centuries. Long before modern medicine emerged, medieval authorities were blaming outbreaks on the machinations of Jews, or sometimes Muslims, or sometimes even the diseased themselves. In 1321 in France, the country's lepers were accused of conspiring to infect everyone else. According to the historian Carlo Ginzburg, summarizing the account of the Dominican inquisitor Bernard Gui, the purported plotters had allegedly "strewn poisonous powders in the fountains, wells and rivers, so as to transmit leprosy to the healthy and cause them to fall ill or die." As the story spread, lepers were arrested, imprisoned, compelled to confess, and burned.

Deliberate disinformation goes back centuries too. The authorities may well have launched that legend of the leprous conspiracy, and they certainly fanned the fear once the story took hold. Those efforts paid off when the revenues from the lepers' asylums were seized for the royal treasury.

It shouldn't be surprising that tales like these take off when especially deadly or disfiguring diseases are on the loose. Any period of heightened anxiety is going to produce fearful rumors. Some of those rumors will be absurd, but others will seem plausible; sometimes, as we'll see below, they'll even have some truth to them.

When those anxieties recede, the stories they sparked often disappear from public memory. And so, when another crop of anxieties appears and the old stories resurface in new skin, they're widely seen as something novel. Today rumors travel through social media, and so they are often mistaken for a product of social media. They're clearly much older than that.

That's worth keeping in mind as Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms try to crack down on COVID-19 misinformation. It turns out that all those other ways of communicating haven't gone away; we can still forward emails and text messages. So now the counter-disinformation crowd is worrying about the "hidden virality" at work in private networks they can't see, and NBC is warning us that "there's no sense of how widespread the rumors are, making them harder to rein in." In Kashmir, where the Indian government has shut down internet access since last summer, the inability to go online has made the information ecology less reliable: Karl Bode reports in TechDirt that "rumors and dis/misinformation are spreading quickly via Whatsapp and word of mouth, with no ability for citizens to research and confirm the claims." Maybe rumor-mongering and conspiratorial fears haven't been more common in the social media era after all; maybe they're just easier to observe.

At any rate, we shouldn't focus a disproportionate amount of attention on the stories sprouting from the grassroots. The biggest thing that governments and media outlets could do to stop the spread of COVID misinformation would be to try a lot harder not to spread misinformation themselves. Some inaccuracies are inevitable, especially in the foggy early days of a pandemic, but the failures this time around have been stunning. That's especially true in China, where the authorities tried to cover up the outbreak when they should have been sharing what they knew, but it's true in more open societies too. In the U.S., the most preposterous moment of official misinformation might have been when the president misstated his own policies in a March 11 address, with disastrous consequences. But there have been plenty of other sad examples, even setting aside the deception machine in the Oval Office.

"It is difficult to express how badly almost all legacy 'expert systems' simultaneously underperformed during the initial phases of the crisis," writes Adam Elkus, a PhD student in computational social science at George Mason University. Meanwhile, he adds, "the global COVID-19 response depended on an enormous amount of information developed and shared often in defiance of traditional media." If you can't always trust official sources, you can't always reject the rumor mill either. Sometimes it knows things that the official sources don't.

And that's been true for a long time too.

"Last week there were rumors that an exotic new disease had hit the gay community in New York," the New York Native announced in May of 1981. It was the first sentence of the first known press report about the disease that would come to be called AIDS. The article didn't predict the plague to come: It interviewed an official from the Center for Disease Control—that's what CDC stood for back then—and assured everyone that the stories were "for the most part unfounded."

The CDC soon realized that this was wrong, and within a few weeks it would be offering a rather different story. The press followed suit. But before the mainstream media, before the CDC, before even that gay newspaper in New York, there were those rumors. They hadn't been relaying an urban legend that time. The street had sensed something happening.

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ADDENDUM: This article originally quoted a Twitter thread by the disinformation researcher Renee DiResta to show how these recurring legends are sometimes framed as an artifact of the "the social-media-news era." DiResta writes to clarify that she is aware that such stories are not new and that she has often written about their pre-internet roots elsewhere.

NEXT: The Thoroughly Modern Spinoza

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  1. Now do religious figures.

  2. Of course, when the media spreads disinformation and incomplete information, the rumor mill isn’t needed.

    1. We see the media spreading outright lies.

      The MSM finally got called on all their lies when Americans hate them almost as much as Congressmen.

      Now the Gatekeepers want to et back in our good graces with more lies.

      Suck a bag of dicks!

  3. Another pathetic ‘Orange Man Bad’ piece….really? This is the very best that Unreason can do?

    In the face of the greatest pandemic threat of the last century, all this asshole can do is carp from the sidelines. Pathetic POS JournoList. Of course, nothing in this article contains any misinformation or bias…no sirree. What a chump.

    1. Greatest threat . . . or hoax? It varies my moment, depending on the President’s self-interest and the moods among his slack-jawed, disaffected, half-educated base of anti-social malcontents.

      1. “disaffected”

        Ah back to the repetitive verbiage I see. Try a thesaurus.

        1. Are you the clingers’ language police?

      2. But enough about your fellow Democrats.

      3. Not surprising, but nice to know you parrot debunked talking points from out-of-context quotes.

        You’ll never find any combination of words Trump said that called the virus a hoax. He called the Democrat criticism of his actions a hoax, ie the absurd theory that he is solely to blame for the existence and spread of this disease.

        1. You lose

          You’ll never find any combination of words Trump said that called the virus a hoax.

          If you never look. Or refuse to see.

          He called the Democrat criticism of his actions a hoax

          Why do you people swallow even his craziest lies?
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5TZ6fTYrsE

          Don’t worry, you’ll still get a cookie/

          1. And you’re still a raving lunatic.

            1. *sneer*

            2. Only psychos deny undeniable proof. *sneer*

              Why do you people swallow even his craziest lies?
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5TZ6fTYrsE

    2. What are you on? Do you paste this in whenever your meds run out?

      1. Is that the explanation for why you shit up threads SQRLSY?

    3. This “Unreason” fad has really taken off like a rocket thanks to LC1789. Hey XY, can I be OB1Kenobe next so i can wave my little hand across the face of Trumpicans while I lie to their face?

      1. Sure…knock yourself out. Literally please. 🙂

      2. Poor unreason staff. So upset that they fucked Reason up and are getting called on it.

    4. You know, sometimes Trump does say shit that is stupid and wrong.

  4. in May of 1981. It was the first sentence of the first known press report about the disease that would come to be called AIDS. The article didn’t predict the plague to come: It interviewed an official from the Communicable Diseases Center—that’s what CDC stood for back then

    No, it hadn’t been called that since 1970. Stop spreading false rumors.

    1. Ha. The Native article used the old name and I followed suit. Fixed.

      1. What a strange way to avoid admitting your error and that you look like an asshole now.

        1. What you feckless cunt. Go cough your sputum on your cat.

          1. Aww I made you so upset you couldn’t speak properly!

        2. What a strange way to avoid admitting your error

          I agree: Admitting my error and correcting it is a strange way to avoid admitting my error.

          1. Nothing short of self flagellation will suffice!

            1. “Apologies, my mistake” is fine.

              In fact, anything that is in fact an acknowledgement of his error instead if lamely ducking it like he did would be fine.

              But hey, being a salty bitch about it because I called him out is something too.

              1. Actually, in retrospect, getting him to bitch at me about it is actually better, because it shows he knows I’m right.

                “Apologies my mistake” would have ended it and now I can ride him in perpetuity.

                1. “Apologies my mistake” would have ended it and now I can ride him in perpetuity.

                  I look forward to this future entertainment.

                  1. It would be more entertaining if Jesse were more prolific.

                    1. I am very prolific 😉

                2. “ Actually, in retrospect, getting him to bitch at me about it is actually better, because it shows he knows I’m right.”

                  He likely doesn’t care and neither does anyone else with a life outside this commentariat.

                  1. You did. Enough to post and cry about it.

          2. You admitted your error?

            “Ha. The Native article used the old name and I followed suit.”

            Hmmm not seeing it, but I do see you passing the buck and trying to pretend you admitted your error.

            And then coming at me because I called you on it.

            1. Had an ex like this. Never got her to say she did anything wrong just an explanation of why it happened like Jesse did. She couldn’t bring herself to actually admit wrong-doing or mistakes. Ever. Turns out she was a Borderline and a Sociopath.

              ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. Lol I was just breaking balls because he clearly knew he fucked up and getting called out by the commentariat is a kick in the nuts but you took it to a whole different place

              2. Yup. Its the, I got caught but I didnt do anything wrong so I dont have to change, character flaw.

                See that in old people all alone with no family that will talk to them.

          3. Thst wasn’t really an admission of error so much as an admission of not checking your sources information.

  5. The CDC has spent much of it’s budget and research efforts over the last several decades on non-disease “public health” issues (guns, violence, obesity, transgenderism…) It’s hardly surprising that they were unprepared for an actual infectious disease.

    1. No, the CDC was prepared as best they could be. But like any bureaucracy, they required several weeks of lag time before they could get their apparatus in motion.

      In retrospect, it will be obvious to everyone that coronavirus took every country “by surprise” because every country has a public health bureaucracy, which by their nature, are not “nimble” in any sense of the word, and which ultimately require the blessing of whichever politician is in charge at the time before they even can take serious action.

      1. When you comment, are we supposed to imagine the words in Spock’s voice? i tried that, and it sounded so… logical.

      2. What annoys me about this comment is it is literally the best analysis of the beginnings of this situation. Yet, not a single media source puts it this way. Instead, we get ad nauseum amounts of Monday morning quarterbacking by people in the media who have no real idea what was and has been going on.

        1. He ignores the tragic consequences of Trump refusing to take leadership — for well over a month … no crisis (to him) until 16 days ago.

          And now, he REFUSES to provide tens of thousands of ventilators, which governors ate begging for.

          All of these failings, and more, have allowed hundreds of needless deaths, and will continue allowing thousands more?

          Did YOU believe it was all a Democrat hoax?
          Did YOU swallow that it would just go away magically.
          When we had only 10 infections, did YOU believe it would be “nearly zero” in just a few days?

          1. So you’re like at Alex Jones type conspiracy levels I see.

            1. COWARDLY DIVERSION
              REVISED FOR GOMER

              Did YOU believe TRUMP that it was all a Democrat hoax?
              Did YOU swallow TRUMP’S claim that it would just go away magically?.
              When we had only 10 infections, did YOU believe TRUMP, that it would be “nearly zero” in just a few days?

              To be fair, I understand your cowardly refusal

            2. His mental capacity has degraded well beyond Alex Jones level shit.

              Hihn’s likely to wake up with dirty diapers in the am.

              1. Did R MAC believe TRUMP that it was all a Democrat hoax?

                Did R MAC swallow TRUMP’S claim that it would just go away magically?.

                When we had only 10 infections, did R MAC believe TRUMP, that it would be “nearly zero” in just a few days?

              2. It really seems to be at a level that clinical help really should get involved.

                1. Did Inquisitive Squirrel believe TRUMP that it was all a Democrat hoax? (before Trump reversed himself)

                  Did Inquisitive Squirrel swallow TRUMP’S claim that it would just go away magically?. ( (before Trump reversed himself)

                  When we had only 15 infections, did Inquisitive Squirrel believe TRUMP, that it would be “nearly zero” in just a few days? (156,000 confirmed cases, and the dumbass did not even acknowledge it as a threat, UNTIL SEVENTEEN DAYS AGO TWO WEEKS AGO ….

                  But NOW Trump says 100,000 DEATHS would be a great accomplishment, since 2.2 MILLION deaths are possible (except for his ‘genius’ leadership *snort*) Puppets dancing on a string, mind controlled.

        2. the media types are cheerleaders for big government, at least when liberals run it. they aren’t going to call the CDC to task for responding too slowly, or the FDA to task for canceling home testing kits for COVID-19.

          1. So, you agree with Trump
            1) There was no crisis until 17 days ago.
            2) It’s all a Democrat hoax, to bring him down.
            3) It will just go away magically.

            Trump’s shameful delay of over a month, his failure to show leadership, has caused hundreds of needless deaths, soon thousands.

            And you somehow missed all the media reporting that you deny happened. Yet another conspiracy?

          2. It is interesting to watch them walk that line, trying to make sure all critique is because Trump ran the show so poorly, not that the ingrained internal bureaucracy was the reason for the most significant errors.

            It is ironic too, they complain that Trump is a dictator, but their political need to blame everything on Trump and not government creates a dictator persona for Trump. They literally feed that which they despise.

            1. Umm, he could have issues executive orders six weeks before he FINALLY admitted a crisis, 17 days ago.

              He REFUSES to use his executive powers to address the severe shortages of masks, ventilators, protective gear for medical professionals (over a dozen dead, and climbing).

              On a recently released tape, he told Mike Pence that he would not return phone calls from Governors desperately seeking help … unless they’re nice to him … while Trump ignores the mounting deaths in their states.

              IF THAT’S NOT THE MIND OF A DICTATOR, WHAT IS?

              Trump’s delays, denials and lies (Democrat hoax) have allowed at least 2/3 of our 2800 deaths, eventually thousands.

  6. Social media monopolists are cracking down on information they disagree with by calling it misinformation.

    1. Yup.

      Those that run these Lefty companies might be ignorant of history but they should heed the warnings of the past.

      Scared people dont always act rationally. So when you start censoring the exchange of ideas because you dont like the Narrative, you might find some serfs with pitchforks outside your castle.

      There was already a problem with Lefty companies going after non-Lefty information which got non-Lefties upset. Now Lefty companies are going to spend their time censoring non-Lefty information instead of dealing with the KungFlu?

      Makes an average person wonder why you’re saying KungFlu demands money and sacrifice but you are still doing the same old thing.

      1. If disaffected clingers and half-educated bigots want to start going “the full LaVoy” . . . be my guest. The timing of replacement is not so important as its continuation.

        1. “disaffected”

          God damn dude what’s with you and the crutches.

          1. He’s one of those people that thinks he’s smart, but he’s not. So he learned a few smart sounding words, and uses them repeatedly.

            It’s his way of compensating for the feelings he developed as a boy, when the bigger, stronger boys gave him thrashing’s on a daily basis.

            1. The way he talks about having things forced down his throat makes it clear he got a lot more than thrashed.

              1. Possibly. But he’s admitted to the thrashings.

                1. Stomping your deplorable kind in the culture war, then watching you whimper about your failures and mutter about turning the tables, is always fine entertainment.

                  I guess if conservatives ever become competitive in the culture war, the fun will be over for the liberal-libertarian mainstream, so . . . do your slack-jawed damnedest, clingers.

                  1. You haven’t stomped shit you racist piece of shit.

                  2. Do you ever find it interesting that your winning of the culture war is based on authoritarian group-think?

                    1. That would be LOSING the cultural war, and the Christian Taliban instituting a new unHoly Inquisition,

        2. Haha. Ah yes, the timing. Been waiting a long time, eh rev? That can make a person bitter.

          Explains a lot.

  7. So those silly, ignorant people of the first millennium used to believe in evil spirits and facile conspiracies, and were manipulated by government and other powerful entities (Catholic church, anyone?).

    How is that different for people today? Sure, the average person on the street “knows” the earth is round instead of flat, but is that only because the common dogma has changed? Similarly, modern people seem to accept the germ theory of disease, but are just one rumor away from beliefs that deny centuries of scientific advancement.

    As for new age technology (which most people have no knowledge of inner workings) we seem to confuse the superficial aura that comes from reading a tweet from your ignorant neighbor instead of hearing the same thing from the same neighbor over the fence. Stupid is stupid no matter how delivered.

    1. Ancient Man was more intelligent than modern Man, modern Man has more information.
      Progressives are for the most part fucking idiots, no matter their IQ, so they insist upon the narrative that ancient Man was dumber.
      When you see that argument made, that ancient Man was defined by ignorance and stupidity, you know that the one making such an argument is an absolutely worthless piece of shit who can be eliminated from existence without loss.

      1. Lefties are spreading this hysteria and falling for it at the same time.

        The USA has 104,865 confirmed cases of KungFu and 1,709 deaths. That is less than 1% death rate.

        Factor in that there are clearly tens of thousands of Americans who had/have WuhanFlu and were never tested, so that lowers the death rate even more.

        The 2017-18 Influenza killed 79,000 Americans.

        Our serious problem with Lefties will work itself out during this time of hysteria.

        1. “The USA has 104,865 confirmed cases of KungFu and 1,709 deaths. That is less than 1% death rate.”

          Um….

          1. Haha. Yeah, “around a 1% death rate” for that would have been better. Since it’s actually .016 in fact.

            1. They are basically at the flu death rate without the excess testing for the flu. But… panic?

              1. Flu sometimes has 100 deaths a day – we hit 525 deaths yesterday. Probably hit 1,000 later this week.

                Still think it’s just the flu?

                1. Numbers again.

                  The CDC says that as of mid March about 59,000 have died this year from flu so far. Flu season starts in November. That’s 160 days ago.

                  That averages to 369 EVERY DAY since flu season started.

                  And flu season’s not over yet. It ends in May.

                  So, no, I don’t think it’s ‘just’ the flu.

                  1. THIS IS AZATHOTH’S THIRD DESPICABLE LIE ON CDC DATA.

                    MARCH 21ST

                    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
                    CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 39 million flu illnesses, 400,000 hospitalizations and 24,000 deaths from flu.

                    As bad as Trump. 🙁

                    1) 100% of Americans have been exposed to the flu.
                    2) MAYBE 2% have been exposed to coronavirus.

                    Such disrespect for human life is deplorable.

  8. As of March 27, 2020, a Bloomberg article titled “Abbott Launches 5-Minute Virus test for use almost anywhere”. I will not link because there is a data/pay wall. To quote:
    “Abbott has received emergency authorization from the FDA for use by authorized laboratories and patient care settings”.
    In other words, the FDA is withholding use of a device (the size of a blood pressure wrist cuff) from the general public and businesses.

    1. What is the false alarm rate? Many of these quick tests are shit.

      1. From the article:
        “Abbott Labs is unveiling a cvirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, & is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting.
        The medical device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting 4/1, said John Frels, VP of R&D at Abbott Diagnostics.
        The molecular test looks for fragments of Cvirus genome, which can quickly be detected when present at high levels. A thorough search to definitely rule out an infection can take up to 13 minutes.
        The test starts with taking a swab from the nose or back of throat, then mixing it with a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its RNA. The mixture is inserted into an ID Now system, a small box weighing under 7 pounds that has the tech to identify and amplify select sequences of the Cvirus genome and ignore contamination from other viruses.
        The tech builds on IL based Abbott’s ID Now platform, the most common point of care test currently available int he U.S., with 18,000 units spread across the country. It is widely used to detect influenza, strep throat and respiratory syncytial virus, a common bug that cause cold symptoms.”

        It seems like they have to ration it to the hardest hit areas. This does not say anything about false positives. (Although the ID Now platform has been used for years.)? Glad the FDA is getting out of the way.

        1. Said nothing about the false alarm rate.

          1. That’s because the false negative rate matters a lot more here. If you get a false positive but do another type of test that takes longer but had a lower false positive rate, you’ve corrected it. But if the test had a high false negative rate, that’s a bigger problem because you’re clearing infectious people.

            Do you’re asking about the wrong rate.

        2. Two realities.

          12:36 PM, 28th
          “In other words, the FDA is withholding use of a device (the size of a blood pressure wrist cuff) from the general public and businesses.”

          2:27PM, 28th
          “Glad the FDA is getting out of the way.”

          But it’s the librul media fomenting hysteria?

      2. even a 90% accurate test is better than not having a test.

  9. There’s one important difference between the current disease outbreak and all those previous outbreaks: in the previous outbreaks, the media’s attempts to create mass hysteria failed. As bad as the media is, the current hysteria can’t be blamed on them–they’re just doing what they’ve always done. The current hysteria only happened because people have been getting steadily more and more cowardly and pathetic.

    1. There was a thread that showed the media for H1N1 vs now… media forgot about H1N1 by the third week. Almost never showed up on the front page.

      1. But Trump wan’t in the White House then, was he?

        1. Pandemic management pointers from the knuckle-dragging right-wing fringe are always entertaining.

          1. Are they you fucking asshole piece of racist shit?

        2. it’s not a Trump vs. Obama thing, it’s a snowflake thing. Cities shut down schools now if an inch of snow is forecast, they don’t even wait to see if it hits. Subways are shut down because a big rainstorm is coming. People want government to protect them from everything, even if it means the government cutting off their own sales tax receipts.

          1. I’m not saying coronavirus is nothing, it’s a serious new virus. But we’ve had serious new viruses before without shutting down half the economy.

            1. This one is 25x more deadly than the swine flu.

      2. Didn’t H1N1 turn out to be less serious than the regular seasonal flu?
        This one could be getting more attention because it is in fact more serious. I’m not sure of anything, but that seems likely.

        1. It’s more serious than H1N1, but about as serious as the flu.

          1. Bullshit.

        2. As someone who had h1n1, no it was not less serious than the regular flu.
          It was bad, at least if you caught it

  10. NBC is warning us that “there’s no sense of how widespread the rumors are, making them harder to rein in.”

    I heard a rumor that the rumors are being spread by Russia. Of course, as far as you know, it could just be a rumor that there’s a rumor that the rumors are being spread by Russia.

    1. It’s just as likely that NBC is involved in some gas-lighting here – informing us that there’s a lot of false rumors floating around out there being spread by some untrustworthy sources so don’t trust anything you hear from anybody other than us, you can certainly trust the false rumors we’ll be spreading.

  11. I don’t think I would be too quick to dunk on the CDC for what they know about AIDS in May 1981, especially since they published the first reputable description of the disease in June 1981. At the time the official was asked, stories of the disease were just rumors and “for the most part unfounded” because no one had published any data yet.

    Nor would I be so quick to praise the wisdom of the Gay Street in 1981. When public health authorities finally determined HIV was sexually transmitted and attempted to shut down the bathhouses and put brakes on the anonymous-sex-with-hundreds-of-strangers-per-year gay culture, they were denounced as anti-gay and met with angry protests by…gay men.

    And this is not unusual behavior during the first stages of an epidemic either, nor is it restricted to the uneducated or gullible in society. People in general refuse to take an outbreak of disease seriously until they or someone they know personally is affected by it, and until that point other concerns weigh more heavily in their minds than a disease that affects “other” people.

    1. Not dunking on them for that at all. Just pointing out that the truth often starts to manifest itself in the rumor mill before the professional knowledge-gatherers pull the pieces together.

    2. I can beat this, I think! In the mid-1980s, the Dutch government tried an anti-AIDS campaign aimed at gay men: “It’s best to avoid anal sex entirely, but if you want to have anal sex, use a condom every time.” (Note the implication that oral sex very seldom transmits HIV, which has long since been confirmed by data.)

      Anyway, though, this particular campaign didn’t last very long, because some gay activists objected to the idea of singling out anal sex as inherently more risky than oral sex, vaginal sex, or mutual masturbation.

      1. Which is absurd because it is. More risky, that is.

    1. You *DO* know that crackpot thinks that COVID-19 is caused by the roll out of 5G, right?

  12. Pretty obvious to me that covid19 is not nearly as dangerous as the media outlets are hyping it up to be. And even if it is, so what? Millions of people all around the world die every year from various causes. What exactly makes covid19 so special that it warrants drastic actions like shutting down societies and the global economy. For example, heart disease actually kills millions of people every year, being responsible for 20-30% of all global deaths annually. I don’t see any morons saying we should take drastic measures to “save lives” from heart disease.

    Of course, one should be prudent with covid19 and take basic prudent precautions as with any other risk. However, what is happening now is a completely bullshit fiasco.

    1. We do spend beaucoup bucks protecting against and treating heart disease. You just don’t realize it because the buildup of expense happened very slowly. And heart disease is not contagious so societal measures are different – admonishments to refrain from smoking and eating red meat – instead of changing interpersonal activities.

      525 Covid deaths in the USA yesterday. Likely 1,000 per day by next weekend.

      Just the flu?

      1. OMG! We are all going to die!

    2. What’s different about COVID-19 is that it’s new, and there’s no immunity yet, and compared to the flu, a much higher percentage of the infected require hospitalization. I suspect the death rate is much lower than reported (since most cases aren’t tested yet), but this is still a big deal if people need intensive care and can’t get it because thousands of other people in their city need it at the same time.

      Which is why a short-term shutdown (2 or 3 weeks) made sense, to flatten the curve and give the hospitals time to prepare. It doesn’t make sense to keep things shut down indefinitely and put millions out of work.

      1. Near the end of THAT shutdown, which you say is sufficient, our total deaths DOUBLED … in only TWO DAYS.

        Obviously the curve did NOT flatten.

  13. Even if covid19 does end up killing millions of people (which could happen on a long enough timescale though it’s not plausible based on current numbers), it still would not be a serious threat when one looks at the hard percentage number (i.e. total deaths / total global population at the time of the pandemic). The fact is that many more millions will die from various other causes.

    1. Influenza killed 79,000 Americans in 2017-18 and infected 45 million Americans.

      We probably have tens of millions of Americans exposed to KungFlu with barely over 2,000 deaths. Millions of Americans have likely had wuhanvirus and recovered. Millions of Americans probably have it and are asymptomatic or have minor symptoms.

      Government is driving us to civil war 2.0 over tyrannical government.

      1. Your hysteria misses the point.
        The whole purpose of lockdowns is to reduce the number of deaths to the bare minimum, while a vaccine is developed and tested.

        Trump’s many failures have thus caused several hundred needless deaths, and thousands more. Did YOU believe it’s a Democrat hoax? That it would just magically disappear?


        81% of Americans want social distancing to continue, including “shelter at home” orders, despite “the impact to the economy.”

        And most follow the advice of … medical professionals (66%), CDC (64%), their governor (51% ) and local police (46%) . Those “very likely” to follow President Trump’s advice and instructions, 31%

        P.S. Be my guest. Launch your civil war, by fewer than 19% of Americans!

        1. Fact – the CDC was responsible for testing, and they initially only allowed tests on sick individuals who had traveled. CDC regulations prevented private labs from performing tests. But sure, something something something Trump.

          Hihn doesn’t realize the fact that Cuomo and the Korean president spent most of February and even early parts of March reassuring their people everything was fine. Cuomo and Blasio delayed closing down schools and didn’t cancel Lunar New Year celebration. NY is now the new epicenter, but sure, something about trump.

          If the country was ran by Hihn and Chemjeff, they would about 100,000 migrants in the country and additional resources to be committed to quarantine them. And we would have to chase around a few hundreds that slipped through the system. And who knows if they would restrict travel? That’s racist.

          81% of Americans favor distancing and blah blah blah. Every Walmart and 99 cent stores in town are packed.

          1. Non-responsive.
            Did YOU believe it’s all a Democrat hoax, and would just go away magically?

            When we had only 10 infections, dis YOU believe it would fall to “near zero” in a few days?

            Did you, like Trump, deny it was a serious problem until …>16 days ago?

            Some of us know the facts. Some just recite memorized soundbites, under mind control of the elites.

        2. We’re not shutting down a 20 trillion dollar economy for the 12 to 18 months it takes to develop a vaccine. We should be shutting it down for 2 or 3 weeks to flatten the curve and give woefully unprepared hospitals time to gear up.

          1. Are you paying attention? Even a little?

            We should be shutting it down for 2 or 3 weeks to flatten the curve and give woefully unprepared hospitals time to gear up.

            FLATTENING THE CURVE FAILED … three days before you typed that!

            Our total deaths DOUBLED … in TWO days.

  14. Total U.S. coronavirus deaths double in only two days, as Trump threatens to make it even worse. Latest updates

    It took 26 days to reach 1,000 deaths. (Feb 29 – Mar 26)
    The next thousand died in only TWO days (Mar 27 – 28)
    And that’s with the President’s lockdown. How much worse if the current lockdown ends, or is weakened?

    Each infected person infects 2.5 others. So we now have 2,000, who will infect 5,000, for a total of 7,000 deaths. How long will that take? Depends.

    The PACE of increased deaths depends almost solely on human contact, which is why every country recommends social distancing … enforced by police, in a growing number of countries.

    81% of Americans want social distancing to continue, including “shelter at home” orders, despite “the impact to the economy.’ Why? Because they could be infected and risk death.

    Coronavirus can be a “silent killer.” New infections show no symptoms at all, for 5-14 days. Then, many still have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms.

    As of now (Saturday)
    124,385 confirmed cases (20,205 today)
    2,211 deaths (505 today)
    3,231 recoveries (844 today)

    1. You just can’t quit us, can you Mary?

      1. You just can’t accept absolute facts, can you Jennifer?
        Our deaths double, to over 2,000, in only two days.
        And you still go snarky.
        Have you no humanity at all?

      2. A lot of his stuff is crazy, but in this case LTT is on the mark.

        This bug is deadly for the immunocompromised. If you know anyone in that category you should consider how your actions and words are endangering their lives.

        525 dead in the USA yesterday.

        Flu??

        1. (bows deeply)

        2. BigT, you need to seriously consider your information sources, your level of personal panic, and your mental health if you find yourself in agreement with Hihn.

          I’m not saying this as hyperbole. He posted something once that sounded sane. But it was Hihn. So I dug. And got to the truth.

          Which was, as with all things, not what Hihn said.

          1. So I dug. And got to the truth.
            Which was, as with all things, not what Hihn said.

            I LINKED TO THE SOURCE. *SNEER*
            YOU WHINE LIKE A PUSSY

            ***The same Hihn who PROVED you full of shit on CDC’s flu deaths through March?
            https://reason.com/2020/03/28/when-an-epidemic-spreads-so-do-rumors/#comment-8187756

            AZATHOTH: 59,000
            CDC: 24,000

            Despicable

    2. it’s just a new virus, a bad one no doubt, but shutting down the economy will do much more harm, and won’t stop it completely anyway.

      1. Even Trump says deaths could hit over 2 million. At what point do people refuse to leave their house, in fear.

        So, your way, the economy is shut down, by citizens, after a million or more needless deaths. And that’s the best you’ve got?

  15. REUTERS: The March 26-27 opinion poll, released Friday, also showed that the public is much more likely to heed the advice of doctors and local government officials than President Donald Trump.

    66% said they would follow the instructions of medical doctors
    64% said they would follow the advice of the CDC,
    51% said they would follow the advice from their state’s governor
    46% would follow healthcare directions from local police.
    Only 31% are “very likely” to follow President Trump’s recommendations and advice

    Trump has now boxed himself into a corner, with no way out. He loses WHATEVER he does by Easter … loses BIGLY

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-poll-idUSKBN21E3FQ?utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner

    REUTERS: The March 26-27 opinion poll, released Friday, also showed that the public is much more likely to heed the advice of doctors and local government officials than President Donald Trump.

    81% said the country should continue social distancing initiatives, including “shelter at home” orders, “despite the impact to the economy.”

    Only 19% said they would like to end social distancing as soon as possible “to get the economy going again,” including 11% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans.

    66% said they would follow the instructions of medical doctors
    64% said they would follow the advice of the CDC,
    51% said they would follow the advice from their state’s governor
    46% would follow healthcare directions from local police.
    ***Only 31% are “very likely” to follow President Trump’s recommendations and advice

    Trump has now boxed himself into a corner, with no way out. He loses WHATEVER he does by Easter … loses BIGLY.

    Just in: In Trump’s latest flip-flop to medical exports. He’s NOW not likely to re-open the country by easter. He’s NOW considering stricter> measures.

    As of Saturday, total US deaths doubled in just two days … with Trump’s current 15-day recommendation. “!5 days are not enough” for many parts of the country. (duh)

    Critical state governors refuse his recommendations, and he is powerless against them. So, by staying tough there, or going even tougher, he looks in charge to his base, and will likely say he is. But it’s the governors, health professionals and scientists who ultimately prevail (thank God). While he bellows and flip-flops almost daily,

    Lifting his (mild) restrictions would see tens of millions more people in close proximity … and OBVIOUSLY a massive increase in deaths, as the entire world moves toward stricter standards, along with several of our governors.

    Our curve is still almost vertical and demands stricter standards, or deaths will keep doubling quickly. duh

    1. Oh, good! Fucking lefty ignoramus Hihn quotes a popular poll to guide us! Fucking lefty ignoramus Hihn thinks that’s a good source.
      Why not quote CNN, fucking lefty ignoramus Hihn?
      And then fucking lefty ignoramus Hihn offers his opinions as if they were worth shit.
      Fuck off and die Hihn; we want the world to be better than it is.

  16. I remember reading handbills and posters about a mysterious “gay cancer” as early as 1979. The rumors were at least two years ahead of the doctors in the case of AIDS.

    1. And it was not until 1983 that Luc Montagnier and his team in France isolated and identified the virus.

      Then decades to develop effective retroviral therapy.

  17. Bow down and do as the government says, because they have good intentions and are always right.

    1. More so than you.
      A LOT

      1. Fuck off and die, Hihn. Make the world a better place.

        1. Make me, thug

          1. Fuck of and die, Hihn. Rid the world of one more lefty thug and make the world a better place.

  18. The problem with “conspiracy theories” is that they get a bad rap, and being labeled a “conspiracy theorist” means you’re a loon and nothing you believe could possibly be true.

    But most bad things that people have done on large scales throughout history started out with evil people conspiring.

    Most conspiracy theories are just overactive imaginings, spread by the gullible. But that doesn’t mean all conspiracy theories are bogus.

  19. Great, you can start by covering Chinese psyop campaigns and govt sponsored internet trolls spreading misinformation.

    Also, why the hell isn’t Reason covering suspicious trading activity where China started buying up medical supplies months before the coronavirus outbreak? Their actions are looking less and less like a botched response to a viral outbreak and more like an international attack.

    1. Also, why the hell isn’t Reason covering suspicious trading activity where China started buying up medical supplies months before the coronavirus outbreak

      Perhap Reason’s writers don’t follow Alex Jones as dutifully as you or. Or Breitbart, WND, StormFront, Rush Limbaugh, etc,

      Their actions are looking less and less like a botched response to a viral outbreak and more like an international attack.

      To whom?

      Depending which supplies you’ve been brainwashed about, many are manufactured in China!

  20. Evidence points to a bioweapon. China still is a communist country which has murdered 70 million of its own citizens and never renounced this history.

    1. Evidence points to a bioweapon.

      Name it. Prove it. We don’t need more hysteria from the alt-right.

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