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Bad Conspiracy Theories: The Bad, The Worse And The Ugliest

Tuesday 2 June 2020


From US Today's The Spectrum:


Leigh Washburn
Leigh Washburn

Bad conspiracy theories: The bad, the worse and the ugliest

By Leigh Washburn, My Turn
1 June 2020
© 2020 The Spectrum & Daily News, a division of Gannett Company, Inc.

A recent BBC report ( graphically describes the consequences of unchecked propagation of mis- and disinformation about SARS-Cov-2: The hospitalized couple, one near death, in Florida, believing it was a hoax; violence against Muslims in India; people swallowing fish tank cleaner, disinfectants, or toxic alcohol; and the worst and most common — those waiting too long to seek help because they thought the hazards were “overblown” (

Conspiracy theories are more than just distracting. Deciding who to trust isn’t easy, but it’s possible — and essential. Ask who’s talking. What’s their background, their reputation? Are they writing for a known outlet? Is the piece sensationalist? Contradictory? Do reporters interview multiple people — actual experts — vet sources, fact-check, question inconsistencies (The Conspiracy Theory Handbook; Yahoo News, 05/22/20; Forbes, 05/08/20; Atlantic, 03/21/20; Lifehacker, 05/08/20)?

The most recent, and arguably worst, is the slick “documentary”, “Plandemic,” which looks and feels credible but doesn’t hold up under careful scrutiny. It’s been fact-checked by several experts (Science, 05/08/20;, 05/08/20;; NPR;05/08/20). Too much is just — off.

Its sole interviewee, Judy Mikovits, is introduced as “one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation.” So who is she? She earned a BS in chemistry in 1980, worked as a lab technician until 1988, got her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology in 1991, then apparently held postdoctoral positions until 2006, when she was tapped to head a new private institute founded by the Whittemore family to look for a viral cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). First red flag — she was apparently a lab tech or a postdoc for more than 20 years, all that time working on other investigators’ projects under their supervision. She was never an independent researcher (, 05/06/20).

Her inexperience caught up with her. An article in the prestigious journal Science, in which she claimed to have discovered a CFS-related virus, was retracted because blood samples were contaminated (Science, 12/23/11). She lost her job and was ultimately arrested (NOT by SWAT) for stealing lab notebooks and other data. Those charges were eventually dropped although the institute won a civil suit.

She makes vague claims that Anthony Fauci blocked publication of some work she did as a technician (implausible); that her research on HIV was instrumental in developing treatments (unverified); and that Fauci and “Big Pharma” destroyed her career, without explaining how.


Full article…



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