Someone once said to me, “So, you think you’re so smart.” I think it was in a social setting (reception) and I voiced an opinion on a variety of wide topics from medicine to history to geology and space exploration. I quickly corrected the person explaining that I certainly don’t see myself as smart. I see myself as a curious little boy standing in the midst of a universe of wonder and doesn’t know but wants to know the answers. It is in that spirit that I bring up this question once more, “Where, and more concerning, why are Trump supporters believing and passing on misinformation about the COVID-19 virus?” I really don’t understand how the consensus by the experts in infectious disease is not believed by this conservative group. Honestly, how did public health issues, the biological dynamics of viral infection spread, become a political issue?
I do understand why the unbelief in global warming became a political issue. The political right is well known to be pro-big business. This is not a conspiracy theory, but there is strong evidence that the funding for the misinformation about climate change comes form the fossil fuel industry.
So here are some of the messages I’m hearing from the Trumpers, the majority of whom are, sadly, evangelicals:
- Mask do not help prevent the spread of the virus but may actually be harmful to the wearer.
- The death toil from COVID is exaggerated for political purposes, to hurt Donald Trump.
- China created the virus in a lab.
- Democratic states had more severe COVID outbreaks because of their liberal ideas.
- A good Christian’s trust God to protect them from the virus.
- And, the most disturbing, the older people and those who are frail, are expendable and are even willing to die in order to allow the rest of us (them) to return to a normal life. In other words, the person over 70 is very willing to suffer and die from horrendous suffocation from the COVID infection so that I (they) don’t have to wear a mask, because wearing a mask messes up my hair. And they consider that a Christian position?
All of these ideas are clearly false. Yet, I’ve seen a parade of spokes people promoting these ideas, a couple of whom are doctors. But neither of these doctors have spent one second in a research project about mask or infectious disease. They both have a checkered past of making outrageous statements with a political agenda. On the other side, thousands of physicians and PhD level people who have spent their careers in virology, infectious disease and epidemiology refute these claims and do so with an unanimous voice.
So, I still don’t have my head around this phenomenon of misinformation from the right. I can guess but I haven’t seen the evidence so my guessing would only be the level of my own conspiracy theory. There is a narrative that big business has been trying to get out, that COVID is not serious or the death count isn’t that high, or it isn’t that contagious, and they have a clear motive, money. Big business doesn’t give a damn if everyone over age 70 dies from it, as long as their businesses and flow of revenues are not impeded. But is that what this is really about? If, there is a profound repentance due.
Mike, the Lake Hermit