Well we all found out at the same time that he has a Son living in Queens! How and when did that happen?
by Diane Shawe M.Ed
We all loved the original story line in Coming to America when a young Prince from Zumunda Africa crossed the seas to Queens USA to find his true Love, Wife and future Queen.
It was lovely to see most of the original characters like James Earl Jones the King and new ones like Wesley Snipes as General Izzi, funny, intimidating with an over done swagger, Morgan Freeman, En Vogue to Gladys Knight.
Almost distinct to the sequel Coming 2 America we were able to see a lot more of Zamunda, the richness of the costumes, ornate jewellery and the mixed media of metals, shells, furs and silk unconventional placed throughout the movie. Even the royal announcer was back with his strained singing and you could almost smell the rose petals.
The film had a very distinct feel to the original unique masterpieces the back story plot worked almost effortlessly in todays timeline with a flashback clearing up the mystery of this Prince.
The Sequel movie had lots of mixed reviews, this is natural as viewers had 30 years to totally fall in love with the love story a bit like ‘Pretty Women’, no one wants to see a sequel to the Happy Ever After fairy-tale. It’s hard not to compare the two after a 30 years gap!
If you want to take a trip down memory lane, laughter with a bit of ‘tongue and cheek’ script then grab some popcorn, something nice to drink because entertainment is back in town.
Guided meditation and affirmations with visualised images are very popular on Youtube.
Visualisation activates the creative powers of the subconscious mind, motivating it to work harder at creating solutions. If done correctly some people have noticed new levels of motivation and find themselves doing things that normally they would avoid, but that will take them closer to success.
Visualisation and affirmations can help you to change your beliefs, assumptions, and opinions about the most important person in your life — YOU! They allow you to harness the 18 billion brain cells in your brain and get them all working in a singular and purposeful direction.
Your subconscious will become engaged in a process that transforms you forever. This happens intensionally or unintensionally because the subconcious mind absorbs everything every waking and sleeping moments of your life.
The process is invisible and doesn’t take a long time. this is why it is important to put in the time to visualise and affirm by practicing your techniques, surround yourself with positive people, read uplifting books and listen to audio programs that flood your mind with positive, life-affirming messages.
Negative Thinking is the Enemy
It is no secret that negative thinking is part of almost everyone’s life.
For some reason, it seems it is easier to think negative thoughts, than to think positive thoughts. The mind and emotions are vast, it is true that people are not taught to think expecially at school, so people tend to flip flop between thoughts and emotions.
Unpleasant situations, problems and difficulties arise in everyone’s lives, and these events cause negative thinking.
Often, people are not very much aware of the thoughts they are thinking, and therefore, get easily immersed with negative thoughts and negative moods when listening to the news or to people talking about their problems. There is also a tendancy to gossip and gossip is almosy always negative.
It would be a good strategy to avoid negative discussion which can contribute to negative thinking though, in many cases, it is easier said than done.
So for instance when you decide to start some guided meditation there is often 3 choices. a) music only b) verbal affirmations c) visual/images (There is an agruement for silent meditation but this is not guided but may be personally accomplished privately or in a group)
a) Music: Often people will select a piece of music that either calms them, inspire or motivates them. If the music you come across grates on your nerves then it is unlikely that you will consider listening to it.
b) Verbal Affirmations: Words Matter and if the words you are hearing sound unbelievable then your subconcious mind and your inner self talk will start a negative debate about what you are listening too. So it is important that the verbal affirmation you select empowers your inner self, does not cause resistance or sounds unachievable.
c) Visual Images: Most of you would have heard the term ‘Create a vision board’ the purpose being to solidify the visual image into your subconcious mind everyday reinforcing your desires, dream or wish to come true. There are lots of Guided meditation videos on Youtube and the stats show that a high percentage of guided money meditations are listened to each day around the world.
However if you are british or european and your watching a guided money meditation in dollars there is instantly a conflict because the image does not fit your currency reality.
You will succeed in neutralising your efforts if you think positively about your goal for a few minutes, and have doubts or think about them negatively the rest of the day. So it is important to match your money mantra meditation with the currency you predominatly use every day, otherwise this is poor investment of your time, and is one of the main reasons why you are not getting results.
Meaningful Guided Meditation
Guided Meditation, Visualisation and Miracle Tones stimulate positivity which are essential components to focusing your intentions in a quiet moment to bring about change, bring you clients, bring you business, cashflow and business growth.
No matter your business, startup, not for profit, online business or charity, taking time out to clear your mind and focus on what you want to achieve with a clear vision can be very enlightening.
The brain is still a membrain that needs rest, need oxygen and the right minerals to support it. There is also lots of evidence to support that certain tones when listened to can stimulate deep into the brain. In this Guided Money Meditation, affirmations are powerful wrapped into the solfeggio tones and biennial beats with wads of british pounds tumbling towards you with a little added surprise.
You can watch and listen or just listen to this guided meditation anytime. To help you manifest your goals which will translate into money for your business try this guided money meditation in british pounds for 7 days. Please do not use whilst driving.
We know that most of the UK businesses are gearing up to #OpeningDay this April, A lot of money will be poured into #advertising, its time to gear yourself up to #followup every #Lead automatically without lifting a finger 24/7
I was five years old when I first heard the phrase or taunt ‘Blacky’ I had played with all my neighbours on the street and in the garden when I was little, looking back my neighbours were black, white and asians. We use to love playing tick. My mum picked me up from my new infant school and I asked her what was a blacky.
She politely asked me were I had heard the phrase and I told her some kids were calling us it at school. She said to take no notice and focus on learning and doing as the teacher said. So I did, but for the next 7 years I could now describe all the various ways I was racially profiled, abused and taunted by both teachers and my classmates without realising it back then. I can now on reflection ask ‘How did that white young child understand to start calling me blacky when I didn’t even know they were white or indeed that I was black? I just saw Jane who was my best friend, she had freckles and ginger hair.
In view of this whilst conducting my mini research for this article, I began to understand that simply making throw away statements as to what racism is and peoples assertion that it may or may not be stamped out was coming from a place of pain, helplessness, denial or plain historical orchestrated planning.
One thing we can all agree on is that racism is alive, it is fed, it has been modernised, debated clinically, psychologically, intellectually, emotionally from generation to generaion.
Contrary to a dictionary definition, racism, as defined in social science research and theory, is about much more than race-based prejudice—it exists when an imbalance in power and social status is generated by how we understand and act upon race.
The UN does not define “racism”; however, it does define “racial discrimination”. According to the 1965 UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
UN Racial Discrimination 1965
Racism exists when ideas and assumptions about racial categories are used to justify and reproduce a racial hierarchy and racially structured society that unjustly limits access to resources, rights, and privileges on the basis of race. Racism also occurs when this kind of unjust social structure is produced by the failure to account for race and its historical and contemporary roles in society.
So with this in mind, when the slogan ‘Black lives Matter’ descended into competing factions like ‘Blue lives Matter’ or ‘All lives Matter’ I became a little confused as to why visually seeing a unarmed, handcuffed man’s life being snuffed out in broad daylight by an appointed officer sworn in to defend all people, along with insurmountable evidence going back hundreds of years starting from yesterday could then generate competitive slogans in retaliation to minimise what we all saw and witnessed as being equal to everything else?
I then discovered that racism in itself is not a simplified one paragraph statement in a dictonary, it’s not about setting up a Diversity department with one member of staff having no power to affect real change from the board of dircectors, investors, recruitment and legislation.
From Race transitioning into racism, oppression, cruelty and suppression this little child has grown up to be a sophisticated adept monster.
So began my education into the 7 forms of Racism which I have best summarised below (reminds me of the 7 deadly sins)
The 7 Forms of Racism
Racism takes seven main forms, according to social science. Rarely does any one exist on its own. Instead, racism typically operates as a combination of at least two forms working together, simultaneously. Independently and together, these seven forms of racism work to reproduce racist ideas, racist interactions and behavior, racist practices and policies, and an overall racist social structure.
Depictions of racial stereotypes are common in popular culture and media, like the historical tendency to cast people of color as criminals and as victims of crime rather than in other roles, or as background characters rather than as leads in film and television. Also common are racial caricatures that are racist in their representations, like “mascots” for instance or the “Angry Black Women” for instance.
The power of representational racism—or racism expressed in how racial groups are represented within popular culture—is that it encapsulates a whole range of racist ideas that imply inferiority, and often stupidity and untrustworthiness, in images that circulate society and permeate our culture. While those not directly harmed by representational racism might not take it seriously, the presence of such images and our interaction with them on a near-constant basis helps to keep alive the racist ideas attached to them.
Ideology is a word that sociologists use to refer to the world views, beliefs, and common sense ways of thinking that are normal in a society or culture. So, ideological racism is a kind of racism that colors and manifests in those things. It refers to world views, beliefs, and common sense ideas that are rooted in racial stereotypes and biases. A troubling example is the fact that many people in American society, regardless of their race, believe that white and light skinned people are more intelligent than dark-skinned people and superior in a variety of other ways.
Historically, this particular form of ideological racism supported and justified the building of European colonial empires and U.S. imperialism through the unjust acquisition of land, people, and resources around the world. Today, some common ideological forms of racism include the belief that Black women are sexually promiscuous, that Latina women are “fiery” or “hot-tempered,” and that black men and boys are criminally oriented. This form of racism has a negative impact on people of color as a whole because it works to deny them access to and/or success within education and the professional world, and subjects them to heightened police surveillance, harassment, and violence, among other negative outcomes.
Racism is often expressed linguistically, in the “discourse” we use to talk about the world and people in it. This kind of racism is expressed as racial slurs and hate speech, but also as code words that have racialised meanings embedded in them, like “ghetto,” “thug,” or “gangsta.” Just as representational racism communicates racist ideas through images, discursive racism communicates them through the actual words we use to describe people and places. Using words that rely on stereotypical racial differences to communicate explicit or implicit hierarchies perpetuates the racist inequalities that exist in society.
Some Comedians often paint a picture to a wide audience. Study has shown that storytelling can form the most embedded images into the subconscious mind, wrap that into laughter another very powerful emotional tool to stimulate memory and feeling, it is easy to see that monkey joke being repeated time and time again for instance. It is viewed as harmless by the presenter because it was packaged as a joke by a well known commedian.
Racism often takes an interactional form, which means it is expressed in how we interact with each other. For example, a white or Asian woman walking on a sidewalk may cross the street to avoid passing closely by a black or Latino man because she is implicitly biased to see these men as potential threats. When a person of color is verbally or physically assaulted because of their race, this is interactional racism. When a neighbor calls the police to report a break-in because they do not recognise their black neighbour, or when someone automatically assumes that a person of color is a low-level employee or an assistant, though they might be a manager, executive, or owner of a business, this is interactional racism.
Hate crimes are the most extreme manifestation of this form of racism. Interactional racism causes stress, anxiety, and emotional and physical harm to people of color on a daily basis.
Racism takes institutional form in the ways that policies and laws are crafted and put into practice through society’s institutions, such as the decades-long set of policing and legal policies known as “The War on Drugs,” which has disproportionately targeted neighborhoods and communities that are composed predominantly of people of color. Other examples include Stop-N-Frisk policy that overwhelmingly targets black and Latino males, the practice among real estate agents and mortgage lenders of not allowing people of color to own property in certain neighborhoods and that force them to accept less desirable mortgage rates, and clerks and judges automatically assuming that the presence of a black person in court must be a defendant and not a solicitor or barrister. (recently reported)
Institutional racism preserves and fuels the racial gaps in wealth, education, and social status, and serves to perpetuate white supremacy and privilege.
Structural racism refers to the ongoing, historical, and long-term reproduction of the racialised structure of our society through a combination of all of the above forms. Structural racism manifests in widespread racial segregation and stratification on the basis of education, income, and wealth, the recurrent displacement of people of color from neighborhoods that go through processes of gentrification, and the overwhelming burden of environmental pollution borne by people of colour given its proximity to their communities. Structural racism results in large-scale, society-wide inequalities on the basis of race.
We can see this when local areas that have enjoyed house prices being maintained and an assumption made that having ethnic people move into the area automatically result in house prices going down. But on the other hand a run down area could be rejuvenated automatically as soon as white people move in forcing residents who have been deprived for years to move out.
Many sociologists describe racism in the U.S. and U.K as “systemic” because the country was founded on slavery and racist beliefs that created racist policies and practices, and because that legacy lives today (more so in the U.S) in the racism that courses throughout the entirety of our social system. This means that racism was built into the very foundation of that society, and because of this, it has influenced the development of social institutions, laws, policies, beliefs, media representations, and behaviors and interactions, among many other things. By this definition, the system itself is racist, so effectively addressing racism requires a system-wide approach that leaves nothing unexamined.
But here is the cunnundrum, when what is seen as the norm to white people who have only known to do what they have been doing all along, when they believe their model is already superior and any alternate model from which to compare in order to modify would diminish their position, I would go as far as to say it would be like asking a fish to fly when its only experience has been to swim in water. The fish could end up experiencing stress and trauma or even fear. All of these emotions have a reactionary response, not dissimilar to the person being continuously discriminated against as described above.
Here me out here… However according to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution man evolved from fish and became acquainted to both Land, Sea, Air and Fire. An intelligence beyond all other creatures on earth. All around the world we can now see evidence of what man can create and sadly what he can destroy.
Sociologists observe a variety of styles or types of racism within these seven different forms. Some may be overtly racist, like the use of racial slurs or hate speech, which some people have identified and tried to be political correct whilst others use it to hurt and hammer home their pain, fright or anger.
There are some policies that intentionally discriminate against people on the basis of race. Others may be covert, (but isnt the act of covert implying complicitness?) kept to oneself, hidden from public view, or obscured by color-blind policies that purport to be race-neutral, though they have racist impacts.
While something may not appear obviously racist at first glance, it may, in fact, prove to be racist when one examines the implications of it through a sociological lens or the feedback and complaints presented by the reciepients. If it relies on stereotypical notions of race and reproduces a racially structured society, then it is racist.
Due to the sensitive nature of race as a topic of conversation some have come to think that simply noticing race, or identifying or describing someone using race, is racist. Sociologists do not agree with this. In fact, many sociologists, race scholars, and anti-racist activists emphasise the importance of recognising and accounting for race and racism as necessary in the pursuit of social, economic, and political justice. (We must however agree that the earth contains different races and that will not change unless we destroy ourselves)
Both sides of the isle often digs in because they are operating from fear. We see the oppressor become more erratic and seek to use the legal system, government, army or commercial power to justify and repackage their unfair practices whilst crushing modernisation and equality by all means necessary using disinformation to divide and sow mistrust.
What are we evolving into? Is it so painful and unjust to want to see the whole world share in our further evolution economically, geographically, socially, environmentally, policically or religiously?
With over 7 billion consumers on this planet perhaps to be serviced by almost 2 billion suppliers, designers, developers, farmers, educationalist and health specialist the list goes on why does a few elite societies prefer to move us towards destruction because they are apposed to equality and human dignity?
We have the luxury of history, it has shown us time and time again the fall of hugh empires imploding because the rulers have abused their fellow man, become corrupt, greedy, uncaring and cruel. Surely we can do better and not repeat history.
So if both parties are blinded by the ‘I lose you gain’ principles one has to ask, is Racism taught and if so who is doing the teaching?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result
So where do we go from here? There are two side to every coin, one side could not exist without the other. What I find troubling is there are some people who want to do the same thing over and over again to achieve exactly the same result as before. A chilling thought.
I have been in inundated with message’s through my phone and emails that for instance Covid-19 truthers believe that 5G technology is dialing up the disease. That they are (the government killing off small businesses) trying to control us.
I became curious to find out if other conspiracy theories existed for previous pandemics and who were more gullible to them. I discovered that more than a century ago, telegraph poles and other mysterious causes were blamed for influenza. And each gave rise to dubious cures.
I also discovered that Alex Knapton had researched and written an extensive and factual article on the topic recently and I invite you to read it.
Science I write about the future of science, technology, and culture. GETTY IMAGES
As the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, a conspiracy theory about the disease went viral on social media: The genesis of the illness, proponents claim, was not the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Instead, this pandemic was actually caused by the introduction of 5G broadband, and radiation from cell towers equipped with the technology is the real culprit.
It doesn’t take Dr. Fauci to know that conspiracy theories have always been a predictable symptom of pandemics. More than a century ago, the truthers of the day tried to blame a deadly influenza outbreak on a similar technological innovation.
On January 31, 1890, the European edition of the New York Herald ran an item suggesting that the electric light was somehow responsible for a global influenza outbreak. After all, “the disease has raged chiefly in towns where the electric light is in common use,” the article noted, and went on to note that the disease “has everywhere attacked telegraph employees.
The illness in question was the first modern influenza pandemic, known as the Russian flu or “La Grippe.” The disease likely emerged somewhere in the Russian Empire in 1889 and quickly spread around the world in successive waves. It took only four months to hit every part of the globe, with the United States seeing its peak in January 1890. More than a million people (of the 1.5 billion on earth) were killed worldwide in that first wave.
The Russian flu was in part a consequence of a newly globalized world. Railroads and transoceanic steamships were perfect conduits for the disease, accelerating its growth across countries and continents. As with Covid-19, the earlier pandemic also caused a spread of misinformation, conspiracies and countless dubious therapies. Instead of the internet, these ideas were promulgated by newspaper and telegraph—but the impact was similar.
“People have an epistemic need to know the truth and they also have an existential need to feel safe,” says Dr. Karen Douglas, a researcher who studies the psychology of conspiracy theories. “In times of crisis, these needs are unmet so conspiracy theories can seem appealing.”
When reports of the Russian flu first emerged, medical science was in the middle of a major transition. The early 19th century was dominated by what’s known as “miasma theory”—the idea that diseases spread through the inhalation of “bad air” from rotting matter. By the mid-19th century, though, the germ theory of disease— what we now understand as the idea that illness is caused by microbes—became increasingly popular, though miasma proponents persisted even into the early 20th century.
Even with the advances in medicine by 1889, the causes of the Russian flu pandemic were still unknown. While scientists such as Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur had already developed vaccines to protect against and prevent diseases, the discovery of the first virus was still three years away. And it wasn’t until the early 1900s that viruses capable of infecting humans would be discovered. That the Russian flu and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 were caused by influenza viruses wouldn’t be definitively determined until 1933.
This vital knowledge gap in 1889 meant that doctors and researchers were at a loss to explain the new illness spreading around the world. Contemporary newspaper accounts chronicled the many and varied theories that doctors at the time had about the outbreak. One account in The Boston Globe noted its similarities to dengue fever. An article in the New York Times NYTcompared it to the disease that felled President William Henry Harrison in 1841. Such uncertainty about the nature of influenza helped fuel conspiracy theories and wild speculation about its causes.
The proto-trutherism from the Russian flu has close parallels in today’s pandemic. Although scientists know quite a bit about the novel coronavirus causing Covid-19, that hasn’t stopped speculation about its origins. One prominent conspiracy theory is that the virus was deliberately bioengineered in a lab to cause the pandemic. Depending on which theory you believe, the culprits behind Covid-19 range from the Chinese government to the U.S. government to Microsoft MSFT cofounder Bill Gates. The coronavirus behind this pandemic almost certainly naturally evolved—there is already considerable genetic evidence pointing to it—but that doesn’t halt the rampant speculation.
“This is a classic example of a phenomenon in conspiracy theory research that people perceive patterns that are impossible, or at best very unlikely,” says Dr. Douglas. “People essentially ‘join the dots’ when connections shouldn’t be made. When there is so much information going around, and pieces of information often contradict each other, people are more likely to see these illusory patterns.”
While there weren’t any whispers about genetic engineering in the 1890s (after all, DNA itself wouldn’t be discovered for nearly 70 years), that didn’t stop more fantastical theories about the origin of the Russian flu from infecting the public. In addition to the idea that telegraph poles or electricity might be responsible for the spread of the disease, Dr. William Gentry of Chicago caught the attention of newspapers by claiming he had isolated the microbes that caused the pandemic.
The source of these microbes, Dr. Gentry claimed, was stardust passing through the Earth’s atmosphere at regular 16- to 17-year intervals. Other physicians soberly rejected Dr. Gentry’s idea—preferring instead to consider the role of volcanic dust, bird migrations or other equally misguided causes.
This lack of understanding about the new deadly strain of flu left doctors perplexed as to the best way to treat it. An 1889 article in The Lancet conceded that “our want of complete knowledge of the nature of the disease renders it difficult to suggest measures of prophylaxis other than the uniform observance of general hygienic rules.” (That’s another sobering parallel to today’s pandemic—as of now, the only approved therapy for Covid-19 is remdesivir, which has been granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA thanks to clinical trial findings showing it can reduce hospital stays.)
In the absence of science-based treatments for the Russian flu, many dubious therapies flourished—taking advantage of people scared of a disease for which no known treatment existed. This, too, has parallels in today’s pandemic. The FDA has sent multiple warnings out to a variety of companies pushing specious cures, ranging from herbal teas to colloidal silver solutions to ingesting detergent.
Newspaper advertisements from the 19th century similarly tout a number of “cures” for the Russian flu. Castor oil was a treatment pushed by at least one newspaper, and other protocols included a bronchial inhaler and an electric battery (which promised to improve eyesight, to boot.) Even doctors promoted the idea that drinking brandy and eating oysters was the key to staving off infection.
The most famous remedy for the Russian Flu, however, was the carbolic smoke ball. These were manufactured in London and widely advertised. The balls released a “smoke” of finely ground phenol powder (an ingredient commonly used in soaps at the time) that would be inhaled through the nostrils. The company that manufactured this treatment promised that it would prevent customers from catching the Russian flu. And if the product failed, the company promised to recoup its customers £100— or about $13,000 today. In December 1891, Mrs. Elizabeth Carlill purchased one of those products and used it on multiple occasions. Then she succumbed to the epidemic.
Because the carbolic smoke balls failed to work, Carlill and her husband filed a claim with the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, but it was ignored. In 1892, the couple took their case to court. In the case of Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, the court found that that Mrs. Carlill was entitled to the money and that the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company was in breach of contract for failing to pay her upon submitting the claim. The ruling was a vindication for Mrs. Carlill and the case itself is still cited as precedent throughout common law jurisdictions, including the United States, and is frequently taught in law school classes to this day.
In another parallel with the Covid-19 pandemic, there was also a class of drugs that existed on the border of sound science and wishful thinking. During the 1889 pandemic, quinine, an antimalarial drug that is the antecedent of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, was promoted by newspapers and doctors as a treatment for the Russian flu. Though many members of the medical establishment appear to have opposed the use of quinine as a treatment for the disease, these warnings went unheeded.
In December 1889, a Boston newspaper chronicled people taking quinine to combat the disease. That same month, an investigative article in the Kansas City Star bemoaned price gouging for quinine pills and noted that demand for them was keeping medicine out of the hands of people suffering from malaria. This has its own parallel today, where there have been multiple reports that excess demand of hydroxychloroquine may cause harm for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, for which that medication is often prescribed as a treatment.
While studies are still being conducted about the efficacy of these Covid-19 treatments, there is little doubt that these drugs can be highly toxic and several clinical studies bear this out. In one tragic case of desperation, a man in Phoenix died (and his wife was hospitalized) after ingesting a chloroquine derivative intended for use as a fish tank cleaner to prevent the illness.
That tragedy also has an unfortunate parallel in the Russian flu. Newspapers in January 1891 reported at least two instances in which families suffering from the Russian flu mistakenly took the poison strychnine, thinking they were ingesting quinine. Several of them died as a consequence.
An unhealthy dose of misinformation, conspiracy theories and the embrace of dubious treatments is quite common during epidemics and pandemics, says Dr. Douglas, who adds that the psychology around them is intertwined. “Research suggests that people who believe in conspiracy theories are more likely to turn to alternative remedies and distrust mainstream medicine.”
More alarming, the spread of misinformation and the lack of trust in scientific evidence has the potential to cause real harm. Turning to untested treatments can lead people away from getting the care they need, exposing them to greater risk. And while some alternatives, such as drinking herbal teas, are relatively harmless, others are not. Colloidal silver, for example, which the FDA has warned against, can cause permanent skin discoloration and make it difficult for your body to absorb medicines, including antibiotics.
Occasionally, the spread of conspiracy theories can cause actual harm as well. In the United Kingdom, where the idea that 5G causes Covid-19 has taken a firm hold in a significant segment of the population, there have been dozens of attacks on telecom towers. While no one has actually been killed yet, it’s not for lack of trying—the UK conspiracy theorists are hiding razor blades in anti-5G posters on telephone poles and threatening harm to people who work on those cell towers.
Even as companies are racing to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, conspiracy theorists may prevent people from taking them. Anti-vaxxer activists have pounced on Covid-19, protesting against vaccine development efforts and teaming with protesters fed up with stay-at-home orders. “Experimental research also shows that exposure to conspiracy theories increases vaccine hesitancy,” says Dr. Douglas. And polling bears that out: In a recent poll, 1 in 5 Americans said they would not take a vaccine for the coronavirus if it became available.
Perhaps the most insidious conspiracy theory about Covid-19 is one that seems more innocuous—the simple downplaying of the harms of the disease. You don’t have to go deep into Facebook or Twitter to find speculation that Covid-19 fears are overblown. Similarly, there are numerous opinion pieces and TV segments devoted to the idea that the economic damage from stay-at-home orders causes more harm than the disease itself.
“This is very common because it allows people to pretend that nothing is wrong and they can get on with their lives,” Dr. Douglas says. “This is an example of motivated reasoning. People believe what they want to believe.”
Once again, there is a historic precedent in the Russian flu pandemic. In an article about the illness in a December edition of The New York Times, it was reported that while the disease was spreading, it was mostly harmless. “There is nothing fatal about the universal cold,” wrote the author.
By time the epidemic subsided a few months later, the Russian flu had claimed the lives of more than 2,500 New Yorkers, making it the hardest hit city in the United States.