The Covid-19 pandemic brought out the best and the worst in people. Among the best was that in the USA nurses and doctors volunteered to go to New York City and help, while risking their lives; meanwhile in Greece the vast majority of people obeyed directives to stay indoors and as a result the country experienced among the lowest levels of contamination and deaths in the world.
And the worst: conspiracy theories. I generally find such theories amusing and have been following them on the internet for years. Some are totally harmless: “Elvis is alive and living in Michigan!” Others try to cause mischief but fail: “Obama cannot become US president because he was born in Kenya.” But when it comes to issues of health, such theories can cause major problems.
It was a few years ago that I first heard of some parents claiming that vaccination caused their children to develop autism. It turns out the study that “discovered” that connection was anything but impartial, and that lawyers who made money by suing medical companies financed the UK study in question. Nevertheless, the story would not die. Thousands of medical doctors opined that there is no connection between autism and vaccination.
Unfortunately, the “other side” had as its spokesperson a well-known actress whose son, she claims, contracted autism after vaccination. As a parent, I understand her agony of dealing with her son’s health, but that does not make her opinion valid. The media did not help. I remember that when a medical study proved there was no vaccine/autism connection, one of the popular morning shows in the US asked the actress in question for her opinion. On one side a well-conducted scientific study, and on the other a Hollywood actress. And still, some people doubted the science.
It appears that Greece is also fertile ground for such conspiracies: “Covid is caused by the 5G internet network!” “Bill Gates wants us all to get vaccinated so he can control us more easily.” To my fellow Americans and Greeks who believe such theories, I ask a simple question: “Are you of sound mind?” Why believe in such nonsense? I have had the same doctor for 29 years. He tells me vaccination is OK. Is he lying? Is he a paid agent of Bill Gates? George Soros? Are thousands, even millions of doctors all over the world agents of malevolent billionaires? Do they want us all to die?
Here’s another question: If my doctor lies to me about vaccines in general and Covid-19 in particular, why should I listen to him when he tells me to take a particular drug for high blood pressure? Should I believe him when he says I need an operation to remove a tumor? If he is paid by “them” to kill me through medicine, why stop at vaccines? Why not prescribe the wrong medicine? Those who claim that doctors are paid by dark forces should stay away from all medical advice and procedures for ever. They will still be wrong but at least they will be consistent. As for me, I will continue following my doctor’s advice. Since I started doing so 29 years ago I feel as good as any middle-aged man (who likes his wine and red meat) can feel!
John A. Mazis is a history professor at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.