Beyond ‘Plandemic’: A Christian Response to Conspiracies

I think he’s gone, perhaps forever. Speaking of which, I got an email about another conspiracy video (The Epoch Times CCP one) to which I had some thoughts:

With videos like these, since I get a lot ranging from secret aliens to the Earth is flat, I see a lot of similarities in how they work. They usually follow one brave soul piecing together information that ‘just doesn’t add up.’ The person might end up connecting all kinds of dots that are unrelated as humans are very good at finding patterns. We are really good at seeing patterns especially if we already have particular beliefs about a particular topic. for example if a Muslim believes that Allah created the world and left evidence of him they might actually see the Arabic script for Allah written say in a GPS satellite. But we can independently check that and get a better quality image and see that it’s not there. there were some people who thought they saw faces on the surface of Mars, but really that was just an artifact of having a low-resolution image. That phenomenon is called Pareidolia:

So one important thing is how could we not be fooled by our minds just connecting things that fit in with things we already believe to be true but might not actually reflect reality? Well the tools of science can be helpful in that, but one of the clever things about some of these conspiracies is that the only tools that can check some of their claims are called into suspicion and thus they are immune to their claims being challenged. That’s basically how the flat Earth movement works. That’s how Judy Mikovits’ conspiracy about retroviruses works - we used the only tools that could possibly test her claims, but then she claims those are unreliable tools so essentially her claim is immune to scientific inquiry.

I will add that some things we also just couldn’t verify any sort of way. I’m limited in this documentary because I don’t understand Chinese, plus by definition almost, all conspiracy videos can’t be fact-checked or tested in some of their claims because they are claiming that the evidence of their particular conspiracy is hidden or secret. So for example, we can’t check some of the claims since the CCP covered it up and erased all trace of the information. I think an interesting question is how could you then figure out if that’s the case? There are some scientific claims in the video which we could take a look at, but outside of this - we might have to rely on other intelligence agencies who have more means than someone like myself doing web searches on Google. Here is a 4/30 press release from the Director of National Intelligence:

“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

In other words, it wasn’t manmade or genetically modified (and if it was, it was made to look like it occurred naturally but that is just pure speculation with no evidence) but they are investigating whether or not it began with contact with animals or was part of a laboratory accident (which can occur, see some famous examples here: https://www.businessinsider.com/5-terrifying-times-pandemics-escaped-from-laboratories-2014-7).

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You are exactly right. Melinda Gates is a Catholic, and has been attacked by conservative Roman Catholics for her support of Voluntary Family Planning.

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It was an article in the Los Angeles Times. How odd that it was so skewed. It was also a long time ago. I haven’t really looked up anything on them recently. Anyway, I stand corrected. :slight_smile:

Yes, I have heard about some of the controversy surrounding contraceptives. I understand some are against contraceptives and also definitely understand the tortured history of colonization but would still be very interested in the article if you find it. I am trying very hard not to get into politics on the forum after my first mistakes so won’t go further into the socio-economic criticisms of philanthro-capitalism.

I, for one, would love to hear about the projects, if you have time. My only experience was indirect–I met a Black girl from the South who attended a school financed by the Gates Foundation.

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They didn’t Hilary. So, sorry, apology not accepted!

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:rofl: Well, thank you! haha

I do know someone who works for them in Seattle. And I also applied for the Gates Millennium scholarship (didn’t get anywhere with it though!), probably the same one as you mentioned. But all I know, is that they give even their fathers that work there 1 year paid paternity leave, and my friend has used it more than once. :rofl: Pretty good deal to be working there, apparently!

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Amazing. For all the amazing and intelligent discourse that goes on in other forums on this website, when it comes to questioning the ‘official narrative,’ the moderators have managed to scare off yet another seemingly honest Christ-seeker who realized that God has given his followers a brain, common sense, and the Holy Spirit from which a believer can independently being to verify and challenge man-made claims, if he/she desires to. Instead, as if we are children, we are being told that we do not even have the right to do so:

“What makes you more equipped to determine the facts than the fact checkers?”

I exhort you not to forget these verses, and in doing so, misleading others and causing them to stumble:

“The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.” (箴言 Proverbs 28:11)

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (箴言 Proverbs 29:25)

“But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” (雅各书 James 2:6)

Blessings,

Sorry if it seems that way to you. We try to keep the forum an island of safety and reason in the cultural floodwaters around us. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but appreciate a certain level of civility and perhaps even humility on a good day.

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He scared himself off. There is nothing to fear here. He brought his fear with him. Nothing can be done about that.

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I meant it more in the Royal “you” kind of way, but I understand that didn’t come across that way to some. This is why I don’t post much, I’m just the staff member responsible for posting the pieces but rarely insert myself in the conversation. Apparently I need to work on my nuance. :see_no_evil:

Got it, appreciate your response.

As I mentioned above, I was just trying to spur on some conversation, but I shouldn’t have worried about this topic having a lack of discussion.

We’re not trying to be in the business of scaring people off around here, as we strive to be gracious according to the guidelines provided. But we all must come with the posture of wanting to learn from others.

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Most of the criticism I’ve seen of Gates’s philanthropy are of a tilt toward incorporating private-sector, profit-driven participants. I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to evaluate the criticisms one way or another.

As for Gates-funded projects, here are three that I’ve been involved in. Two are ongoing, one is done and we’re trying get the results published.

One project is to identify a set of protein markers in blood that could be used to determine whether a child was suffering from viral or bacterial pneumonia (or malaria) so they could be treated correctly. There is currently no good way to distinguish the cause of pneumonia and treatment is very different for viruses and bacteria. Pneumonia is a major killer of children in lower income countries.

Another project is a followup to the RTS,S malaria vaccine trial, which showed partial effectiveness of the vaccine. This study looks at different vaccine delivery schedules to see if efficacy of the vaccine (which currently is pretty crappy) can be improved.

The third project is the latest in a long-standing collaboration between Harvard and malaria researchers in Senegal. The goal now is to move genetic studies of malaria parasites out of the research lab and make them a practical part of Senegal’s national malaria control program. The project funds ongoing genetic sampling of parasites (and mosquitoes) throughout the country, with the goal of tracking drug resistance, distinguishing local transmission from imported cases, and using genetic measures of things like inbreeding to evaluate how anti-malaria interventions are working in different parts of the country, allowing the NMCP to prioritize efforts.

Pretty much without exception, I’ve found everyone involved to be fiercely dedicated to improving human health and well-being. These are mostly people who could be making more money and spending less time traveling to malaria-endemic places if they were some other line of work. The idea that they’ve dedicated their lives to doing this so they can kill people would be deeply offensive if it weren’t so ludicrous.

(Killing people is a lousy way to reduce the population, by the way. It’s abundantly clear by this time that the way to slow and reverse population growth is through better health care, better education, and access to birth control.)

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Thanks for sharing, great work.
When you consider those who are dying of vaccine preventable illnesses, maybe the anti-Vax movement is covertly backed and funded by racist extremists…(sarcasm alert)

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Facts. (As the kids say :wink: )

Where were you told you did not have the right?

Preface: It’s not my intention to offend anyone and I say this with as much respect and humility as I can muster. I appreciate this article. I even went so far as to repost it on facebook. But…

What do we do with genuinely stupid Christians? Not people who are operating on fear and impulse, yet really know better deep down. I’m talking about people who are incapable of discernment. People who flunked science or who cannot even define it. People who don’t even read their bibles, much less Plato or Dr. Seuss. Followers of Jesus who are gullible and easily triggered by cult personalities or pundits. People who never learned how to weigh arguments. Because they exist and constitute a considerable portion of our congregations. What do we do?

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Welcome to the forum! You voice something that perhaps we all have thought at some time about someone. Thankfully, through Christ we can see we too are pitifully ignorant and yet loved by God despite how often we fail and come up short.
I think it helps to step back and try to visualize that person through God’s eyes. If they lack knowledge, see the world through their eyes and help them understand a confusing situation. If they are mentally challenged, see the struggle they face in everyday life and ease it if you can, but affirm their value and worth when perhaps pats on the back are few. If they are angry and bitter, try to imagine the painful path that brought them down that road, and respond in kindness when listening to their story.
I say these things not that I always do them or do them well, but that is what I strive to do. I still get very frustrated, and as of late, have had to take a break off and on from social media. It helps to step away and get perspective.

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People who cannot think for themselves parrot the views of people they trust. I don’t think it’s true in most cases that they scour the internet for the stupidest ideas and are attracted to them, I think they are served up a regular diet of nonsense on the media they consume, and they don’t have the critical thinking skills to evaluate sources and logical errors and plausibility and basic facts. So the question I ask myself is, why are so many Christians I know trusting the wrong people and groups? How do I get them to trust me and the people I trust instead? I’m not sure I’ve stumbled on any magic bullets, but I do know that most of the respect I get from those people is not really related to my intelligence, education, or general informedness, it’s from being kind, generous, or thoughtful in non-debate areas of life.

It seems to me that a lot of the stubborn clinging to nonsense these days is mostly about identity marking. They consume the media they consume because it buys them membership in a group. People want to show they belong and get approval. It’s pretty tragic that promoting conspiracy theories and alt-right ideology are what mark you out as a committed Christian and get you affirmation in some circles, but if that is the case, how do we change that? Maybe we need to be more proactive about affirming people for the genuinely Christian things they do and say. I think feedback loops are so important in this situation. Also, I have found that if you want people to listen to you when you are opposing their preferred narrative, you have to have some common ground. If you are the person that only posts things they consider hostile and offensive to their worldview, they are just going to tune you out. So, best to mix in some silly animal gifs, cute photos of your kids, and prize-winning recipes in the social media mix.

I have felt genuine dismay frequently over the last couple years looking at what is coming out of the mouths of Evangelicals. I have felt at times like the country is being taken over by nutters. The whole thing has challenged me to be more vocal about what I think about issues, even when I know they are contentious, because I think Christians especially need to hear things from outside their echo chambers from people they have some chance of trusting. It costs social capital, and it is hard to keep the disillusionment and outrage from tingeing my responses at times, but I don’t think it is entirely futile. Even if you never change the minds of the cohort that are mentally limited or brainwashed in various ways, when you broach this stuff publicly, either on social media, or in group settings, many times the silent listeners are the ones who get the most out of it. I try to interact with frustratingly slow people mostly for the benefit of the audience the interaction has.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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