Plandemic: one of those Internet things

Can’t I just ignore it?

techniques of science denial
From a Creative Commons license
Recently, I repeatedly kept seeing a reference to a video called Plandemic. I have not viewed it. Mostly, the message is “See it before THEY take it down again.” The video has reached cult status. It’s like the outlaws in the Wild West. Or the gangsters like Bonnie and Clyde in the 1920s and 1930s America. Plandemic has achieved, it seems, folk hero status.

So much so that Forbes has posted a piece by Tara Haelle called “Why It’s Important To Push Back On ‘Plandemic’—And How To Do It.”

Plandemic interviews a scientist who was appropriately discredited for scientific misconduct and fraud. [Judy Mikovits] is a known, established anti-vaccine advocate (despite her denial in the film), and she presents a long list of unsupported statements that involve COVID-19, various vaccines, HIV/AIDS, Anthony Fauci, pharmaceutical company collusion and other elements of an elaborate, long-running cover-up. It’s a doozy, checking nearly every box in the long list of conspiracy theories and disinformation circulating about the coronavirus.

Politifact fact-checked eight of Mikovits’ most misleading claims in the film. It’s one of several links debunking the video in the Forbes piece.

Ubitquitous

Forbes asks: “Why is this video suddenly everywhere? Why are so many drawn to it?” And answers it:

First, it taps into people’s uncertainty, anxiety, and need for answers—common reasons anyone is attracted to a conspiracy theory. Second, it is packaged very professionally and uses common conventions people already associate with factual documentaries. Third, it successfully exploits ancient but extremely effective methods of persuasion.

Oh, and why is it being removed? YouTube keeps taking it down because it violates community guidelines for false and misleading information.

Someone named ZDoggMD reacts to the “crazy” viral video. He says, “Don’t waste your time watching it. Don’t waste your time sharing it. Don’t waste your time talking about it.”

Forbes takes a different tactic: “Why should I bother saying anything at all? Can’t I just ignore it?”

Conspiracy theories like those in this video are actively, directly harmful, and dangerous. They can influence people’s behavior in ways that harm those people and public health—including you personally—in general. We can’t afford to let these ideas run unchecked.

If you don’t push back on them, even to those you love or don’t want to upset, you’re enabling them. You’re allowing people to spew harmful, dangerous nonsense that kills people and demoralizes the millions of health care providers trying to save lives.

And the writer has some tips on how to debunk, ideally without alienating the people. She points to the Atlantic article by Liz Neeley, How to Talk About the Coronavirus.

See also, from Politifact: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.