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AMPFest: Antivaxxers team up with QAnon and COVID-19 cranks

AMPFest is happening this week, and it’s a conspiracyfest featuring QAnon, Trump supporters, COVID-19 deniers, and antivaxxers. It should surprise no one how easily antivaxxers fit in with QAnon.

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has made crystal clear, it’s that the antivaccine movement is at its heart driven by a conspiracy theory—multiple conspiracy theories, actually. The primary conspiracy theory behind the antivaccine movement is that “they” (“they” being the CDC, big pharma, the government, the medical profession) “know” that vaccines cause autism, autoimmune diseases, and all the other conditions and diseases attributed to vaccines by antivaxxers but that “they” are keeping the data and evidence showing the links between vaccines and these conditions from you. Most antivaccine conspiracy theories are variants of this kind of conspiracy theory, which I like to call the “central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement“. The two main examples are the Simpsonwood conspiracy theory popularized by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in 2005, which claimed that the CDC “knew” that the mercury in the thimerosal preservative that was used in several childhood vaccines until 2001 was the cause of “autism” but massaged the data to make the link go away, and the “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory popularized by Del Bigtree and Andrew Wakefield in their conspiracy movie disguised as a documentary VAXXED in 2016, which claimed that the CDC “knew” that the MMR vaccine causes autism in African-American boys but massaged the data—you guessed it!—to make the link go away. Which brings us to something called AMPFest

Early in the pandemic, there were naïve people who thought that the possibility of a deadly infectious disease for which there was no preexisting immunity would make antivaxxers reconsider their views on vaccines, if only out of self-interest to avoid death or the debilitating aftereffects due to COVID-19 infections. There was also some hope that this was the chance for antivaxxers to “put their money where their mouth is” when it came to their claim that, instead of vaccines, they could simply quarantine and avoid others if their children got measles, by actually supporting and following public health measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. So when COVID-19 denial became widespread, along with numerous conspiracy theories about, for example how the causative virus SARS-CoV-2 was “engineered” in a laboratory, how 5G is the real cause of the pandemic, how the whole pandemic is a “plandemic“, how the flu vaccine supposedly increases your chances of getting COVID-19 (it doesn’t), and a wide variety of other medical conspiracy theories (in particular Bill Gates conspiracy theories), it was no surprise that by April the antivaccine movement had thoroughly allied itself with COVID-19 deniers. COVID-19 deniers were soon using language reminiscent of the antivaccine movement (such as “I do not consent; I do not comply”) while antivaxxers were launching a pre-emptive disinformation war against COVID-19 vaccines that hadn’t yet been approved (and still aren’t). Meanwhile, antivaccine quacks are taking full advantage to peddle their quackery. Soon antivaxxers were fully involved in peddling unproven treatments for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine and bleach.

What spurred me to write about this topic again was a reminder sent to me of just how deeply antivaxxers have embedded themselves into the conspiracy world. Later this week, Donald Trump’s Doral Hotel will host a conference of Trump supporters, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and antivaxxers:

But next month, as the COVID-19 virus could very well be entering an expected second wave, one of Trump’s hotels will become a hub for anti-vaccine activism. Some of the most notorious figures in the anti-vaccine movement are set to converge on the president’s Trump National Doral Miami resort in early October for a MAGA-world conference.

The anti-vaccine figures won’t be the only fringe GOP movement represented at Trump’s property during the American Priority Conference or “AMPFest”, which runs from October 8-11. They’ll be joined by top QAnon conspiracy theory promoters, including one with a history of anti-Semitic remarks.

There’s even a pool party.

Anti-vaccine heavyweights Robert Kennedy Jr. and Del Bigtree are scheduled to appear in early October at Doral Miami for the MAGA-heavy AMPFest, a conglomeration of Trumpworld personalities now in its third year that was started by a handful of conservative internet activists as a more explicitly pro-Trump alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Del Bigtree and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are two of the heaviest heavyweights in the antivaccine movement at the moment, up there with Andrew Wakefield himself. In antivax world, it doesn’t get much bigger than them, and we’ve written about them here on many occasions. You might recall Del Bigtree. He produced the antivax conspiracyfest of a movie VAXXED, donned a yellow Star of David to liken the “plight” of antivaxxers to that of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, and, most recently, was urging everyone to “catch this cold” (COVID-19) to reach herd immunity because, according to him, it’s only deadly to the old and sick. Meanwhile, RFK Jr. has been a leader of the antivaccine movement since 2005, when he popularized the Simpsonwood conspiracy theory. In more recent years, he’s been trying to recruit African-Americans to the antivax cause, claiming that vaccines and glyphosate are responsible for the obesity epidemic, labeling the current generation of children the “sickest generation” (because of vaccines, of course), and (also of course) going all-in on COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

I perused the list of speakers for AMPFest 2020 and was not so much surprised that there were antivaxxers on the bill, but how many there are. First of all, RFK Jr. is not just a speaker at the conference, he’s a headliner, which is rather amusing given how long he’s been a liberal icon and that AMPFest is a full MAGAfest of a conference, organized by Trump supporters to lionize Trump. Notice how he’s featured in the advertising:

He’s right up there with Roger Stone, Matt Gaetz, and Cory Lewandowski! Interestingly, though, this ad was from over two weeks ago, and I no longer see his name on the list of speakers on the AMP website itself, which makes me wonder if he’s still on there. Del Bigtree is still on the bill, complete with a photo, but I don’t see RFK Jr.’s name.

Be that as it may, other antivaxxers include Shannon Kroner, who’s known for having organized an antivax discussion full of false balance; Theresa Deisher, who came up with the idea that fetal DNA in Gardasil gets into the brain and causes neuroinflammation, resulting in autism; Mikki Willis, a director who made the COVID-19 conspiracy film masquerading as a documentary Plandemic and its sequel; and James Neuenschwander, a physician into alternative medicine who runs something called the Bio Energy Medical Center, who was originally going to be on Shannon Kroner’s antivaccine panel but ended up not being on it. Unsurprisingly, all the docs on this speakers’ bill are quacks; indeed Dr. Neuenschwander offers CEASE therapy for autism, a therapy based on homeopathy, and IV vitamin C and chelation therapy.

I’m guessing that there are other antivaxxers in the lineup as well, just that I’m not familiar with them. Most of them are a variety of Trump supporters, QAnon conspiracy theory adherents, and a variety of other science denialists and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and grifters. It’s a new thing for AMPFest to feature so many antivaxxers, too:

The prominence of anti-vaccine figures on the AMPFest program marks a change for American Priority, whose earlier conferences didn’t prominently feature vaccine opponents. And it comes amid a flood of medical disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. AMPFest’s 2019 iteration became briefly infamous after the conference played an edited video from 2014 action movie Kingsman: The Secret Service that showed Trump massacring his political critics and media figures in a church.

The Trump Organization didn’t respond to a request for comment about the anti-vaccine figures appearing at Doral Miami. American Priority president Alex Phillips didn’t address the new prominence of anti-vaccine figures on this year’s program in an email to The Daily Beast, writing instead that AMPFest doesn’t have “ideological purity tests” for speakers.

“We as an organization respect the sanctity of free speech and free association as a cornerstone of the American constitution,” Phillips wrote in an email to The Daily Beast.

There are also antimaskers, such as Tina Forte, and, unsurprisingly, most of the antivaxxers appearing at the conference have also glommed on to COVID-19 denialism and grift, which is why they fit in so well with this group:

Speakers scheduled to appear at the conference include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., known for spreading misinformation about vaccinations, and Dr. Simone Gold, who in July appeared in a viral video, later tweeted by Trump, in which she claimed hydroxychloroquine cures Covid-19, among other misleading assertions. (Gold appeared in the video with Dr. Stella Immanuel, who gained notice for claiming elsewhere that sex with demons in dreams causes illness.) The conference bills Gold, who says she met in July with Vice President Mike Pence, as “censored,” in an apparent reference to social media companies removing the video for promoting coronavirus misinformation.

Stone has gone further than Gold in that regard. In an April 13 radio interview with Joe Piscopo on New York City’s AM970, Stone floated a bizarre and false theory that Bill Gates helped to create coronavirus so that he can plant microchips in people’s heads. “He and other globalists are using it for mandatory vaccinations and microchipping people so we know if they’ve been tested,” Stone said, summarizing a theory he described as “open for vigorous debate.”

Given that COVID-19 deniers and conspiracy theorists often consort with QAnon believers, it’s not surprising that antivaxxers are speaking at AMPFest with QAnon promoters:

The speaker’s line-up also includes Matt Couch, an internet conspiracy theorist being sued by the brother of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

QAnon conspiracy theory promoters are also set to appear at Doral Miami. Tracy Diaz, who uses the alias “Tracy Beanz” online, was one of the first QAnon promoters and is scheduled to speak at AMPFest. So is DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, a failed GOP congressional candidate and QAnon supporter who was recently hired at conspiracy theory outlet InfoWars.

AMPFest’s line-up also includes Zach Vorhies, a conspiracy theorist with a history of anti-Semitic remarks. Vorhies initially earned some fame on the right after serving as a “whistleblower” for undercover conservative operative James O’Keefe. But Vorhies has a long record of anti-Semitic remarks, once alleging that “Zionists” killed Andrew Breitbart and that Israel planned 9/11.

QAnon, remember, is a conspiracy theory that claims that there is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against President Trump while running a global sex trafficking ring. Many of them also believe that, in addition to molesting children, members of this group kill and eat their victims in order to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood. Basically, QAnon is the very old antisemitic conspiracy known as the Blood Libel, rebranded and revamped for the Facebook century. For those not familiar with it, the Blood Libel is:

A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.

Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.

I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence.

The plot, described above, was the conspiracy “revealed” in the most influential anti-Jewish pamphlet of all time. It was called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists around 1902. It collected myths about a Jewish plot to take over the world that had existed for hundreds of years. Central to its mythology was the Blood Libel, which claimed that Jews kidnapped and slaughtered Christian children and drained their blood to mix in the dough for matzos consumed on Jewish holidays.

The Nazis published a children’s book of the Protocols that they required in the curriculum of every primary school in Germany. The Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer (derived from the German word for “Storm”) spread the Blood Libel. Hitler’s Mein Kampf, his narcissistic autobiography and manifesto for his battle against the Jewish plot to rule the world, copied his conspiracy theories from the Protocols.

I’ve mentioned before that my primary gateway into conspiracy theories and pseudoscience was while refuting online Holocaust denial in the late 1990s. Then my interest widened to medical quackery and the antivaccine movement, then to more general skepticism. During that time, I learned a lot about the far right, fascism, neo-Nazi movements, and antisemitic conspiracy theories, of which Holocaust denial is among the most vile. I never thought that, 20 years later, my knowledge of these topics would be so useful. I should have realized, though, that knowledge of conspiracy theories is always useful for a skeptic. The reason is that conspiracy theories are at the heart of pretty much every form of science denial that there is.

I once coined a term, the central dogma of alternative medicine, to describe the belief that we have near-total control over our health through lifestyle, such as diet, activity, exercise, and a Secret-like belief that wishing makes it so. Antivaxxers and COVID-19 deniers share that mystical, magical belief system in which they are healthy entirely because of their choices, and they (and their children) are not at risk of horrible outcomes due to infectious disease because of their choices. It never occurs to them that age is a major risk factor for death from COVID-19 and that people can’t do anything about how old they were when the pandemic hit. Similarly, it never seems to trouble antivaxxers like Bigtree or COVID-19 deniers, the vast majority of whom are white and at least middle class if not affluent, that COVID-19 has exacted a much worse toll on African-Americans and other people of color, who are far more likely to suffer severe disease and die. It should thus not be surprising that antivaxxers are so at home among antisemitic conspiracy theories.

But why are conspiracy theories so important to science denial? I’ve always thought that it was because, when you don’t have facts or science on your side, you need to have a reason to explain why the entire medical, scientific, or history establishment believes something different than you do and considers your beliefs to be quackery, pseudoscience, or pseudohistory. So you construct a conspiracy theory that makes you the hero, someone who, with only a few others, shares hidden knowledge that is being suppressed by dark and powerful forces. If, for example, you’re a creationist, then it’s a cabal of dogmatic atheist Darwinists preventing your knowledge from being accepted. If you’re a 9/11 Truther, it must be the cabal in the government that, according to your conspiracy theory, was actually responsible for the attacks who must be responsible for the “official narrative”. If you’re a cancer quack, it’s a cabal of big pharma, the FDA, and the oncology establishment preventing your cancer “cure” from being accepted as mainstream. If you’re a QAnon believer, it’s a cabal of powerful people (nearly all liberal and/or Democrats) suppressing the “truth”. If you’re a Holocaust denier, it’s obviously the Jews keeping your knowledge from being accepted. If you’re a climate science denier, it obviously must be a cabal of climate scientists and liberals who want to impose government control of industry. If you’re an antivaxxer, then of course it’s a cabal consisting of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the medical profession, big pharma, and Bill Gates. And if you’re a COVID-19 denier, it must be the CDC, big pharma, pro-vaxxers who want a vaccine (enter Bill Gates again!), the government (who wants to control you), and others suppressing the “truth”.

No wonder antivaxxers fit in so well at AMPFest. No wonder antivaxxers rapidly allied themselves with COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and became leaders in the movement opposing public health interventions for COVID-19 that includes antimaskers, lockdown protesters, and the like.

Unfortunately, too many people discount conspiracy theories as obvious nonsense, fit only for ridicule:

While ridicule is an appropriate response to many conspiracy theories, AMPFest and other developments let us know that it’s a mistake not to take conspiracy theories seriously. Much of the harm in the world is based on conspiracy theories, and many genocides have conspiracy theories at their heart. Conspiracy theories are also a major impediment to controlling childhood disease, addressing climate change, and, right now, remain one of the most intractable barriers, if not the most intractable barrier, to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

43 replies on “AMPFest: Antivaxxers team up with QAnon and COVID-19 cranks”

RFK jr. still makes noises that he cares about climate change, while joining with science deniers on about all else. As to ridicule, maybe the lesson is that like testing, while it should be part of our toolbox, it’s not enough by itself.

Now for the fun fact.
Adrenochrome is commercially available.
And you can buy quantities of it that no one has in their body (Signa-Aldrich sells 25 milligrams for $101) for the cost it would take to kidnap a baby to extract a fraction of that.
So I wonder what other excuse they have that it has to be from babies seeing that that would not change how the makeup adrenochrome.

There’s even a pool party.

This is how Real Science is done, y’all!

#DunningKruger #ParanoidNarcissism #BloodLibel #AmericaFirst

Let’s hope all the hotel staff are able to slather themselves in three feet of alcohol gel while all the attendees hug and kiss and celebrate their brave iconoclasy.

Can you imagine what it’s like for the housekeeping staff? Having to clean up everything these conspiracy theorists have touched?

And something tells me they won’t tip well either.

No.

( at any rate, I seem to be having trouble commenting today)

I love that liberals like RFK jr and others ( e.g. Wright, Del) have to negotiate their core beliefs with the newcomer anti-vaxxers’ input..

But, more seriously, RFKjr and Del targeted the Orthodox fommunity in NY who have had higher rates of VPDs and now, Covid ( Politico, CBS, Bloomberg, etc) with positivity rates as much as 8% (!) especially in Brooklyn so that the city may have to shut down businesses and schools in selected zip codes this week. Similar higher rates in NJ..

I’ve tried to explore which personality/ life experience factors might make a person more vulnerable to belief in conspiracies ( there ARE studies) but what strikes me recently is how espousing these beliefs can boost self-esteem and allow the person to feel greatly superior to others:
after all, if you are an anti-vax mom, a barely educated ‘natrural health’
advocate/ nutritionist. an unemployed daytime television producer or a random technician and your ideas trump medical, psychology and diverse credentialed experts, well, you might feel just great.
Perhaps feeling inferior to experts/ the educated sets off their quests. Proselytisers know this and supply the necessary ingrdients..

Perhaps feeling inferior to experts/ the educated sets off their quests. Proselytisers know this and supply the necessary ingrdients..

“The easiest way to manipulate people is to tell them they’re special.”
A paraphrase. I can’t find the original quote.

Denice:

I don’t think vulnerability to conspiracies is anything as simple as questions of “self-esteem” resulting from inferior to experts. [Beware the self-flattering analysis that suggests your opponent is just jealous of your obvious superiority in/at ‘X’.] A lot of conspiracy-theorists are above average in intelligence and education. [My partner’s uncle is a big time CT, and he has a PhD in Physics…]

Rather, I think said vulnerability is endemic to a world that has been denaturalized: filled with prospects of human-generated apocalypse on one hand, and an alienating experience of post-industrial quotidian life on the other. It’s not ‘the experts’, it’s everything that defies understanding and control…

Now, it also follows that what plagues the body and soul is no longer a hostile Nature controlled by the Gods, but the creation of some persons who must be, therefore, both Powerful and Evil. Thus, as you note below, Nature becomes re-framed as the Edenic inherently wonderful thing the Evil ones have cut us off from by some means. But in this drama, the ‘experts’ are more likely cast as the useful-idiot fools n’ tools of the conspiracy than as the actual conspirators. Just a different class of unenlightened sheeple. Nothing to feel inferior to. I mean, who’s going to buy Tony Fauci as a villain when you can offer reptillians or George Soros (blood libel baby eater!) .

So, what proselytisers provide, methinks, are narratives of empowerment. Some form of ‘superiority’ may ride along with that, but the central appeal is both wider and deeper.

@ sadmar:

Self-esteem is only a part .
Anti-vaxxers tend to value Purity and Liberty above all else and reject hierarchies of expertise according to some research
.
And I agree, they count many well educated women amongst them who are courted by leaders who ’empower’ them by revealing how they,, the mothers, are really the superior ones, living naturally and freely, based in love,, unlike the corrupt, evil corporatists/ doctors, bought and paid for by pharma, who want to boss them around for profit

In fact, one of the loons I follow describes his work as ’empowerment’ and liberation from corporate and medical greed. Some anti-vaxxers consider SBM a form of misogyny because women aren’t believed ( about vaccine injury).

There’s so much here that I can’t fill in right now
but suffice it to say woo/ anti-vax leaders teach their followers that they ARE the elite- as one says, the 3% or 5% that will change the world. Only a select few can glom onto their message because it’s so rarified..

Funny, but I heard similarly from the leaders of the NXIVM cult. ..

In these conspiracy theory theories, don’t forget the content algorithms on social, news, and video sites seving up things that are “incrementally more concentrated versions of the thing they were already looking at”.

In Search of A Flat Earth: https://youtu.be/JTfhYyTuT44?t=2070 2’nd half is on Qanon.It gets pretty dark but with a good deal more on the elvolution of such (non?) thought; extending the idea that it may start as a form of entertainment.

” Assange didn’t start taking flak until he released these 5 years later”

What crap. He started ‘taking flak’ in August 2010 with the ‘rape’ and assault charges. ‘Rape’ in sweden might include not calling the bint the next morning.

He went into the embassy in May 2012 and remained seven years.

A delegation was sent by the Trump {mr. “you gotta love the wikileaks} administration to try to get him to play along with a Trump narrative of emails — He refused. Now he rots there.

her client had been made an offer at a meeting on Aug. 15, 2017, with former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson.

https://www.wric.com/news/politics/assange-lawyer-says-trump-offered-indirect-offer-of-pardon/

January 2017

Outgoing US President Barack Obama commutes the prison sentence given to US army private Chelsea Manning for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.

Mr Assange says he stands by his offer to agree to be extradited to the US if Mr Obama granted clemency to Manning.

21 April 2017

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says arresting Mr Assange is a priority. No charges have been filed against him in the US, but American media outlets report that federal prosecutors are considering charges.

17 May 2017

Chelsea Manning is released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

23 May 2019

The US justice department files 17 new charges against Mr Assange, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing classified military and diplomatic documents.

The indictment said Mr Assange had “repeatedly encouraged sources with access to classified information to steal and provide it to Wikileaks to disclose”.

Wikileaks tweets that the announcement is “madness” and the “end of national security journalism and the first amendment”.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11949341

I doubt replying to this person will be useful, but for others, Assange was arrested in London in July of 2019, more than two years after President Obama left office, so he had nothing to do with it. The trigger was withdrawal of Assange’s asylum, and may have had something to do with the fact that his presence in the embassy was increasingly unmanageable. (The above commenter seems to be JAQing off.)

Uh you do realize that the reason that Assange holed himself up in that embassy was exactly what is happening now to him. He did it since he expected that the moment he got into custody (at that point by the Scandinavians) he’d be extradited to the US. And the people making that request being smart enough to not make it until Assange would be in a ‘secure’ environment to prevent him from just not going.
So it is not a stretch to put the onus on the Obama administration. Especially since the reaction to any exposure of unsavory behavior of the Obama administration was to maximally punish whomever was the leaker or the messenger used by the leaker. Ignoring any whistleblower laws and if need be redefining terms so that people would not be protected by for example being journalists.

Just as a reminder, it was this::

The ‘RPG’ was a telephoto lens. The kill all the witnesses, including kids, is what it is.

USGOV/facepalm/burythatguy.

I’m starting to be fed up with people denying the obvious when it comes to Assange (and other situations…). Wether you like the guy or not, it’s preposterous to claim that what got him in trouble was his (possible, who knows) unconventional use of condoms.

Seriously.

People should stop being so frightened of being accused of being a conspiracy theorist that they cower under a veil of conformity claiming that the US is a pure as Snow White in this business.

Call a cat a cat. That may make you feel like not a virgin anymore…

Gee…

(Luckily that veil is very inefficient when it comes to Assange. Bad faith is much more efficient.)

If you people want to execute the guy, own it and do it. But stop twerking around it.

So a bunch of infectious disease denialists will gather at Trump’s Trash Palace to crowd indoors and yell at each other while not wearing masks in a state currently with a high rate of COVID transmission? I expect a superspreader event for those who deserve it most (and, sadly, for their contacts who do not deserve it at all).

I think another reason people are open to conspiracy theories about COVID in particular is that they don’t like to hear that we (meaning all humans) have so little control over our situation. On FB someone (friend of a distant and conservative friend) asked me why COVID and not SARS? And I said “Basically, we got lucky. People worked their butts off, risked their lives, died in some cases, the systems that the world-wide infectious disease community had in place worked, and we got very, very lucky that SARS didn’t generate a lot of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers.”

No one wants to depend on luck. No one like the idea that even if you’re a good person and do all the right things, you can still get hammered by disease. It is deeply powerless, and no one like to feel or acknowledge their lack of power and control over their own lives.

Some people turn to religion: “a bad thing happened to that person because they are not moral/religious. I am a moral/religious person so bad things will not happen to me.” (Which leads to terrible things like asking what a person who was in a terrible car accident did to “deserve” it.)

Other people turn to conspiracies: “it’s a manufactured virus! Therefore it is someone’s fault, and I/my government/someone else will make them pay!”

This pandemic has shown us how powerless we are, and how weak our responses are, against a virus, against “Nature”. And while many people try to make things better, to protect their families, to bring joy to their communities, some people lash out, controlling the only thing they can: their own actions. So they refuse to wear masks (like teenagers who won’t wear a coat when it’s snowing just because Mom told them to), and they demand haircuts and bars and “normalcy”.

Right.
And the “Nature” to which you refer is not the purely beneficent Nature beloved by the woo-meisters, which includes healing nutrients,”Farmaceuticals”, natural antibiotics/ anti-virals and arcane phyto-chemicals that EXACTLY mimic the actions of neurotransmitters so that no psychiatric meds are ever needed.

Your Nature includes ….poisons… in plants and animals as well as viruses, bacteria. parasites..

Additionally, if we all followed the back to nature approach, nature would likely be crushed under the weight of the Earthly hordes looking for ‘natural’ cures and wood for log burners.

@ Justatech

I think this is an excellent analysis. What I’d add is that it goes beyond/beneath “hearing” we have little control over our the narratives of our lives, which sort of implies a conscious cognitive evaluation. I think it’s more a condition that many people feel in their bones as a fundamental facet of ubiquitous-tech-mediated, post-industrial life. Which is why the conspiracy theories – which, whatever else they may be are definitely empowerment recovery narratives – don’t have to make sense… (or perhaps it’s better to say that any sense-making involved is secondary or tertiary)… they just have to “feel right”, whatever that amounts to.

This is why, I think, as Denice observes, Nature cannot be the villain. It has to be, as you say, some <i.persons’ fault. So Nature is positioned as the Edenic state we can get back to through our individual-or-collective heroic actions. But as you say, this is also a lashing out, vindictive. It’s not just about you being your own hero and ‘winning’, it’s about payback for all your psychic suffering/confusion/disempowerment/whatever…

It seems to me that whatever’s in us that makes us believe in religion is responsible. Religion is nothing more than a mass(pun intended)-accepted conspiracy theory. The few people I know who are ‘proper’ conspiracy nutjobs, also have something that’s bad happened in their lives, are certainly not stupid, probably have a tendency to overthink things and overdo the weed – although that last is also to escape the bad stuff going on in their lives. Finding a reason, ie not just random shit flung by an indifferent universe, that enables them to blame someone else rather than accept personal responsibility is also important – Bill Gates is the devil, Orac one of his demons and I guess I’m just a really bad person destined for the flames!

It’s a human thing to crave certainty and control, for sure. Nobody wants to know how much randomness is active in their life. (excellent book: The Drunkard’s Walk)
It is also about cause and effect, it feels right that big effects have big causes and that the luck of the draw (randomness again) doesn’t seem adequate or acceptable as an explanation. Someone/thing has to be responsible.
Add to this the aggrieved entitlement that only the best things should happen to me (I’ve been good!) and how to explain how the universe is not unfolding as it should can skew towards conspiracy.
A random mutation and transmission of bat virus to people to the world is not as satisfying to some as a deliberate, planned action by shadowy malevolent forces behind the scenes. Too bad they won’t be appeased by sacrificing a chicken…

QAnon have a new conspiracy theory – something to do with Trump catching Coronavirus so he could arrest Hilary Clinton. Apparently, it all goes back to his tweet: “We will get through this TOGETHER”. QAnon in their insanity have interpreted the upper case word as TO GET HER – her being Hilary Clinton.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/05/getting-covid-is-the-most-democratic-thing-trump-has-ever-done#comment-144269496

Big, if true.

And before anyone accuses me of being ‘partisan’; I would enjoy nothing more than personally ramming a flaming Flemish fire-log up into her lady parts. But that is irrelevant.

@Orac: Any chance you could ban vile racist misogynist shitnozzle above? This is not his first offense.

As usual the Cabal is keeping us in the dark about the most important aspects of AMPFest 2020 – are there good eats, and will there be access to a full bar during seminars? The only thing I’ve heard about amenities is that the Doral Resort is offering special spa packages.

Lacking this essential info, I’m bypassing the event and saving up for the next Conspira-Sea Cruise, which Divine Travels is scheduling for October 2022 (they’re going to Hawaii!).

I had been hoping for another high seas adventure with Andy and the gang this winter, but the only Divine offering remotely close is the upcoming Chariots of the Gods UFO And Ancient Mysteries Cruise to the western Caribbean in March 2021. The keynote speaker is Erich von Daniken, and there should be plenty of holistic fun for everyone. I don’t see any Friends of the Blog on the speaker roster, but there will be a Mystery Guest, so who knows? Better register now, the best cabins are going fast.

http://divinetravels.com/Cruises.html

*couldn’t find any references to Covid-19 precautions on the Divine Travels website. But that shouldn’t be a worry if you’re sufficiently spiritual.

The irony here is that Trump seems to be counting on pushing a vaccine out before Nov. 3 to rescue his prospects for at least making the election close enough to steal. To that end, “Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine…”because said guidelines would make an October release impossible.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/06/trump-reveals-why-his-corrupt-october-surprise-scheme-will-likely-fail/

Meanwhile, a poll showed only ~60% of Biden voters would be willing to take a COVID vaccine coming out of the Trump administration, but Trump voters are even MORE suspicious, only ~40% willing. Maybe AMPfest knows the MAGAs better than Trump does, and any vaccine is too much of a reality-based concept for those people to embrace.

[…] My last post was about how the antivaccine movement has so easily allied itself with the network of COVID-19 deniers, antimaskers, and even QAnon conspiracy theorists, which makes it appropriate, albeit depressing, to take note of an event occurring in my own state that reflects that confluence. It’s called Into the Light: Vaccine Injury Awareness Walk 2020, and it’s taking place in Grand Rapids on Saturday morning. Its speaker lineup is a veritable who’s who of the antivaccine movement in Michigan: […]

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