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A healthy dose of common sense is the cure to coronavirus

By Corrie Knight | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-26 08:20
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Corrie Knight [Photo provided to China Daily]

Conspiracy theories have taken a foothold in the news of late. The latest one blames 5G masts for spreading coronavirus. In Britain, there have been dozens of attacks on masts and telecom workers.

There are plenty of famous conspiracy theories, for example the moon landings being faked, or alternate fates of Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy or Elvis Presley. Most people laugh them off. I will admit that some of them are entertaining.

But nowadays, conspiracy theories pose a danger to the public. With the 5G attacks, not only does the perpetrator risk injury and arrest, emergency services and coronavirus patients could be denied vital phone calls.

There seems to be a growing number of people who are refusing to verify the facts for themselves and rely on reactionary websites for their information. It's easy to understand the appeal.

All governments and corporations keep secrets, which sows distrust among the public. Conspiracy theories play on this by offering simple narratives to complex situations. The irony is that the conspiracy theories present such a dark alternative reality that it can only foster a heightened anxiety in the believer.

Our current world health crisis sparked allegations of a ruling elite unleashing a man-made disease on the masses to reduce the population. But this rhetoric has existed for years; back in the 1990s I remember claims of fluoride in tap water being used to kill or maim people. It's the same paranoia that claimed the millennium bug would throw us back into the Dark Ages.

If there really is an illuminati running the world, let's credit them with some intelligence! Wars are an effective way to decimate a population, as are naturally occurring diseases. It doesn't stack up that if a secret group wanted to get away with mass murder they would use phone masts.

Questioning things or seeking out facts is the logical thing to do. But problems begin when people ask astute questions and expect reassuring answers. Take "anti-vaxxers", for example. Given the history of unethical experiments, botched vaccines and large-scale corruption on the part of pharmaceutical giants in the West, I cannot blame anyone for doubting their products.

However, the voice of reason tells me that I've had all the standard childhood vaccines and I turned out alright. So did you and so did the people who peddle false rumors about drug companies.

I think the key is to cast a broad net and check a variety of sources. The WHO website might be a good place to start. Sadly, facts and common sense appear to be losing the fight. Some parents are so consumed by fear that they deny their own children the vaccines that protect them and the public. As a result, some diseases not seen for decades are making a comeback.

In the internet age, the flip side of the conveniences we enjoy is the ease in which false information is spread. This weaponization of information has become more potent now that we all have a smartphone. We're approaching a point where people will not know what to believe.

After reading so many contradictions I don't care what the source of coronavirus is. All I want is for political leaders the world over to take it seriously. Instead, some are choosing to play the blame game or are preparing to ease the lockdown prematurely for the sake of their economies. It seems the truth is no longer important to them either. It's no wonder the global death toll has reached a catastrophic level.

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