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Covid conspiracists are using Star Trek-style technobabble to convince us it’s all a hoax

James Moore
·5-min read
<p>Conspiracy theorists, including anti-vaxxers, are dangerous</p> (Getty)

Conspiracy theorists, including anti-vaxxers, are dangerous

(Getty)

“I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the 'pandemic’ in any meaningful and practical sense does not exist."

When I saw that line taking heat on Twitter I initially thought it must be a hoax. I know it was naive of me but I found it hard to believe anyone could write anything quite so painfully and offensively stupid.

So I checked out the source of the Tweet, a conservative website – and yes I’m aware that kooks on the left have been involved in playing this sick little conspiracy game too – where it reportedly appeared only to find that Twitter was accurate. It was actually written just a few short days ago.

If you want to read it, I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you really want to put “Get Used to Life in Devil’s Island Britain” into Google and you’ll find it. I refuse to name-check the site because I don’t want to be seen to be promoting such horse sh*t and, no, I’m not I apologising for using that term because it’s the only thing that will suffice to describe it.

However, it is worth taking a look at what the article does because while it decries “science based fear narratives” its writer is nonetheless quite keen on using ostensibly scientific terminology to buttress his fictitious case. This is a frequent tactic of the corona-conspiracy crowd.

Here are some examples. First off the virus has apparently been “measured by a PCR test that its inventor declared unfit for diagnostic purposes”.

The good people from Full Fact investigated that little gem, which has, it won’t surprise you to learn, been doing the rounds on social media. It concluded that inventor Dr Kary B. Mullis, who sadly died in August 2019 before Covid-19 started to spread, “never said [PCR] wasn’t designed to detect infectious diseases”. The test has been proven to be more than 95 per cent effective and was described by the Scottish government as “the gold standard”, when responding to a freedom of information request.

Then there’s a claim that “the nucleotide chain of Covid-19 cannot be positively identified”. The University of Cambridge is currently taking a lead in coordinating the Covid-UK Genetics Consortium with the Wellcome Sanger Institute. You’ll find on its website an interview with Dr Charlotte Houldcroft, who spends long hours in a tent daily sequencing Covid-19 to track the changes in its nucleotide sequence. They’re called mutations and they’ve been causing more than a few problems of late because they’re how new strains arise.

Apparently, Covid-19 has also “not been isolated according to the Koch postulates”.

The postulates are a tool for identifying pathogens dating from the 19th century. Here’s what Vincent Racaniello, professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University in New York, had to say on the subject: “Despite the importance of Koch’s postulates in the development of microbiology, they have severe limitations, which even Koch realised” noting that neither cholera or leprosy could fulfil all four of them.

They are even more limited when it comes to viral conditions like Covid-19 because, as he notes, viruses had not been discovered when the postulates were formulated.

I've sought to counter the false claims like the ones I refer to because it’s important to do that when they appear, but that’s not the core point of this piece.

The writer cites the postulates, nucleotide sequencing, alleged problems with the PCR test, because using those terms sounds impressive, they make it look as if he’s done his research, knows his stuff and, more to the point, is showing you evidence of the secret THEY’RE NOT TELLING YOU.

It’s what a Star Trek script writer might recognise as “technobabble”.

Technobabble is when Mr Data starts talking about adjusting the phase variance of the transmission relays to free the Starship Enterprise from the spatial anomaly it’s trapped in.

Strange though it may seem, this actually conveys a positive message because while you might think it’s all hooey, the show depicts Data using his brain to solve problems. The super-strong android character only rarely resorts to using physical force.

Technobabble is used for a far more malign purpose by Covid-deniers.

It is deployed as a lure to tempt credulous reader to join them in Conspiracytown, where they’ll surely tell you Dr Racanillo, and Dr Houldcraft, and Full Fact are all dastardly purveyors of “science based fear narratives” and collaborators in the government’s “war on humanity that will simply go on and on with all the might and violence of the state”.

The trouble is that it works. The viral spread of coronavirus conspiracy junk proves it.

The writer also claims to “know no one, nor does anybody in my extended circle know anyone, who has been admitted to hospital with Covid-19”, which is just desperate.

I know no one, nor does anyone in my extended circle know anyone, who drives a BMW but that doesn’t mean the damn things don’t exist because I can almost guarantee I’ll get cut up by one the next time I drive my car.

But my wife has a colleague who has already lost four members of their family to Covid-19 and more people will find themselves in that appalling position if toxic Covid-denial narratives like the one I’ve discussed keep spreading.

We need to push back. Longer term, and I’ve said this before, the subject of Media Studies needs upgrading in status so that future generations are better able to recognise this sort of stuff for the rot that it is. Given the damage it does, Media Studies might just be more important than Maths.

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