I intended to approach this from another angle, but this one will suffice!
An article in Gizmodo (shared on Facebook) began by decrying: “On Tuesday night, Brazil’s president demanded that governors end quarantine measures, falsely claiming that “90 percent” of the population will show no symptoms from covid-19 and bragging he wouldn’t even notice the virus because of “my background as an athlete.”
More importantly, for my comments, the title of the actual post was Brazil’s Bolsonaro Blames Press for Covid-19 ‘Hysteria,’ Boasts He’s Too Fit to Get Sick in Speech
I understood what he presumably meant, that 90% would not have ‘serious’ (life-threatening) symptoms, and I agreed, still agree, that the hysterical element of the pandemic is being flamed by media, who stand to gain by said exposure. Thus I replied:
“He is partially correct. Without understating the virus, the hysteria and panic is being orchestrated by media, greedy for viral stories, and traffic (to the delight of advertisers). Similarly, others – especially global corporations, whether largely philanthropically, or purely in a predatory, manipulating way, are leveraging the pandemic for growth and gain.”
And oh boy, did they leap on that.
João Lúcio Gomes These are World Health Organization recommendations from experts around the world. Take your goddamn tinfoil hat off.
JP Mar-Men So you are saying he is correct for saying that the media is reporting on the gravity of the pandemic, which in turn creates a “hype?”
Richard Montgomery Paul Ackerley where did you get your medical degree?
Curiously, all three have degrees, two in engineering, another in organic chemistry, so they aren’t stupid people, but they are reacting, without thinking: they are responding to their fears first.
I replied, once, pointing out:
I specifically made a point of stating that I was NOT understating the coronavirus. My point, which you and others chose to ignore, is that the HYPE is being monetised. It’s NEWS. News SELLS. A large number of online games, media sites and other (ahem) entertainment sites are offering free playtime (or in the case of Activison, an xp bonus in WoW!) Underlying the offers is the PR of the ‘promotions’, is, for many companies, the hope of increasing subscriber numbers. Future gains. Cynical, but it is what is it.
e.g. from one educational place: “Social distancing and self-isolation measures are bringing untold challenges to our communities. In this time of difficulty, one way of keeping busy and motivated whilst indoors is to learn a new skill or explore a new interest.”
Then gave up on them, you can’t rationalise with irrational people!
Funnily enough, one of the above, while telling me how wrong I was, said he (he being Brazil’s president)
is clearly worried about the day after the crisis when he’ll have an economic disaster to manage. He’s trying to minimize the economic impact for his own political sake.
Go figure. He knew what I meant, but still couldn’t see it, for the fear the media had instilled in him.
Somewhere, right now, someone’s grandparent will be lying on a hospital bed (if they are fortunate enough to have one, with a respirator), dying. Meanwhile, elsewhere, either hunched over a computer screen, or excitedly waving a printout, will be an executive yelling, “Have you seen our latest ratings? This virus is GOLD!”.
And people can’t see to join the dots because the people spooning out FUD with facts have their audiences twisted in knots!
La Mort, and bog roll!
Anyway, to my originally intended point: DEATH.
Or to be more precise, the terror of dying.
There is a saying, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
Well, not entirely wrong, but not entirely true either. As another pithy saying goes, “it’s complicated.”
Take the CORONAVIRUS, for instance…
Sorry, did I scare you? I meant to say the coronavirus, does that help?
We’ve all seen the pictures of empty shelves, the Photoshopped meme’s of armed police guarding toilet roll, and all the rest.
Yet this panic buying began weeks before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Weeks before the numbers started to rise, fast, before the death toll began to rise. Now, of course, terror stalks the streets. People are scared, terrified, and even legally barred from being in a ‘crowd’ of three or more.
At its current peak in the UK (i.e. now, today), there are 8,227 cases, which apparently now includes Prince Charles. Of these, 433 are dead. Many more are seriously ill. So yes, the threat is real.
However, hop back a month, or so, some to February 15th – 9 cases, no deaths. Even 3 weeks back, March 4th, there were only 87 cases in the UK – a country with 67 million people!
So, let’s hop back a step, see what we find:
The Guardian, Feb 17th (2020): Hong Kong armed gang steals toilet rolls as coronavirus panic-buying spreads
Newsflare (blog), Feb 6th (2020): Hong Kong panic buying sparks run on toilet paper, rice, and noodles
Lincolnshiire Live, Jan 30th (2020): Brits are stocking up on Brexit panic boxes because of coronavirus Sales of the emergency food and drink supplies have spiked 1,200%
Let’s just pause a moment there.
By Jan 30th there were only 9,823 known cases, all or nearly all around Wuhan, China. At the beginning of January it was barely on any radar, with on 586 reported cases.
So why was there panic buying of toilet roll (etc) reported across the world? It was a local epidemic at the time. Yet the press and media pounced on it like a starving lion on a steak.
But, hey ho, let’s look back further.
Remember. I told you to THINK!
Sky News, 9th Oct (2019), Brexit bum’s rush: No-deal could wipe out toilet paper stocks
Metro, 14th Aug (2019), Toilet paper shelves ‘could be empty’ if no-deal Brexit causes supply delays
The Mirror, 28th Jan (2019), Asda, Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s warn UK will run out of food under ‘no-deal Brexit’
Medicines are set to be prioritised over food, the Government has declared, as ministers think forward to potentially desperate scenarios resulting from a chaotic crash out of the EU
Wired, 9th August (2018), Why stockpiling food won’t save the UK from a Brexit disaster
No deal, no warehouses, and no veggies. The UK doesn’t have the infrastructure to support stockpiling of food – and nobody in the industry is taking the idea seriously
The Independent, 17th July (2017), Brexit: ‘Real risk’ UK could run out of some foods after EU exit
Not days, not weeks, not months but for YEARS publishers and media outlets (most if not all of whom have an aggressive pro-EU anti-Brexit stance) have been beating the same drum: ‘Brexit bad’. You will suffer, you will get no meds, you will starve, you will have a dirty bum for defying the will of your corporate overlords.
Blah blah blah.
And Whoop-de-doo, in swoops the Coronavirus and all that FEAR, UNCERTAINLY, DOUBT pays dividends, panic ensure, stores empty of everything, police are given new laws. Here, in Europe, everywhere.
Now, you can consider me peddling some tinfoil hat conspiracy theory (I am not), but the fact remain, facts, nevertheless.
Q: Do I believe Covid-19 was manufactured?
A: No. (OK, it /may/ have been tinkered with, or more probably been detected/known earlier than admitted, but the jury is against that idea*).
Q: Do I believe the pandemic is part of a global conspiracy?
A: Again nope.
Q: Do I believe a tiny percentage of people in positions suited to cause mischief and gain are using the natural pandemic to push personal agendas and to expand their power bases, and/or wealth?
A: Oh yes, no doubt at all. That’s not espousing a conspiracy theory, that pointing out the world is full of dodgy gits, most of whom seem to gravitate towards media, banking, and/or politics:
Yahoo / Reuters: U.S. senators defend selling shares before coronavirus crash
Telegraph, 14th March, 2020: Hedge funds count their profits from market rout.
“Bets against currency and shares pay off handsomely for short sellers as panic spreads among investors” …
“Hedge funds are this weekend dividing the spoils of a brutal week in financial markets, having made billions betting against shares and currency as fears of an economic downturn gripped investors.”
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (often shortened to FUD) is a disinformation strategy used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics, cults, and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear.
Let me tell you about panic, about fear!
All this panic, ultimately, is fear, fear about doing without, fear of mortality. It’s baseless, craven, weak-willed cowardise. It is a healthy instinct in animals, but in humans it carries another flavour, a darker, more insidious stink. It is the believe that you, YOU matter more than anyone or anything else in the world.
OK, that is a little unfair, and it is a generalisation, mostly it’s men that are that bad. Parents, women especially, will protect their children with their lives; men are more inclined to leg it. Just how it is.
People, especially younger people have this bizarre notation that physique is strength, that power, wealth, looks, ‘things’ are strength. Get to 60, 80-years-old, you know that’s all rot. The majority of that is gone, withered away with the passing of years; most would give the rest up just to feel younger, healthier again. Some people are born smart, the rest of us learn too late what is lost with the passage of time.
Fear though, that stays with folk, if they let it. It gets under your skin. The soldier that goes onto the battlefield understands this fear. Snipers and landmines will do that to you. But they go out anyway, until they can’t, because it’s their job, it’s who they are.
Equally, police, firemen, ambulance drivers, all the first responders, they go out, day in day out. The things they see, have to clean up, it takes a toll. But they too do it. Difference type of stress, of fear, but it’s there all the same.
Then there’s the ‘other’ cases. ‘Cos life, it happens, to all of us.
The first time I faced my mortality (or at least was old enough to remember!), well, perhaps another time, but the threat was real, imminent and I was so terrified, I vomited, and possibly wet myself. And was a bed-wetter for years afterwards. True, abject terror. Because I was dying, cruelly so.
The second time, the terror was not quite as intense, and I didn’t soil myself, but it stayed with me. Even fifty years later.
Time passes, more and more ‘things’ pass too, close calls, things that test your sanity… But it’s OK, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Until it doesn’t matter. At all.
Being told you have months to live, that is scary, it can play on your mind.
Being told, by the crash team, that you are dying, now,
Just stay with us… – as you drift peacefully away, not so much.
(Of course, the morphine may have helped, but it wasn’t a case of days, but hours, perhaps only minutes, or seconds, as they prep you for emergency surgery, against the clock.)
And more times passes, ‘cos “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
For me, with baggage, the emptiness is profound, but for others, like cancer survivors, there’s an element of ‘taking the second chance at life.’ That closeness to death, real, primal fear, it makes people appreciate what they still have. What actually matters most in life.
So when I see also these idiots storming the shops, panicking, hoarding, allowing themselves to be terrified by corporations, governments and media with an agenda, I just sigh and roll my eyes.
Because none of it is real.
The FEAR you feel is artificial.
FEAR is a psychopath, grinning, with soul-dead eyes, as he takes your life. Fear is knowing each day could be your last. What fear is NOT is panic over possibly, maybe, perhaps running low on soft toilet paper, when you already have 2-months supply and are panicking to get more!
Again, to reiterate, the threat of the pandemic is real, the need to keep distances is real, the numbers do not lie, but the fear? That’s people pushing your buttons. Live your life while you can, don’t be a slave to F.U.D.!
Links and related
* National Geographic: How coronavirus mutations can track its spread—and disprove conspiracies
“So far, Nextstrain has crunched nearly 1,500 genomes from the new coronavirus, and the data already show how this virus is mutating—every 15 days, on average—as the COVID-19 pandemic rages around the world.
As menacing as the word sounds, mutations don’t mean the virus is becoming more harmful. Instead, these subtle shifts in the virus’s genetic code are helping researchers quickly figure out where it’s been, as well as dispel myths about its origins.”
Not to dispute the article, or promote any conspiracy theory, it should also be pointed out that the bio-research labs near the outbreak were actively researching similar strains. It is not a stretch to imagine that, off the books (for cash), sample gathering by locals was occurring and that, as much as eating infected meat, was potentially the source of the outbreak. Still a natural outbreak, but that would make it more avoidable.
It also highlights the awareness of this viral family (which actually includes the common cold!) and that the belief that it was a case of when, not if, something like Covid-19, occurs. And that it will, as a mathematical certainly, occur again. Covid-19 is basically a dry-run for what could come next. No expert, but my reading suggests that the chance of a viral mutating is a million to one. This particular strain virus is mutating every two weeks, as the article says. Not a big deal itself. But if someone carrying MER-CoV (or SARS or another similar strain) gets this virus, and that forms a new strain (naturally), it could get nasty. It’s a numbers game.
Scientific America: How China’s “Bat Woman” Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus
The article states the researcher was at a conference when news of the new virus broke out and was rushed to the area, thus disputing the conspiracy theory that it was created. That said, the headline continues:
“Wuhan-based virologist Shi Zhengli has identified dozens of deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves, and she warns there are more out there.”
“…new disease outbreaks of pandemic scale are a near mathematical certainty. This had been keeping Shi and many other researchers awake at night—long before the mysterious samples landed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology on that ominous evening last December.”
“Meanwhile she frantically went through her own laboratory’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves.”
“The genomic sequence of the virus—now officially called SARS-CoV-2 because it is related to the SARS pathogen—was 96 percent identical to that of a coronavirus the researchers had identified in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, they reported in a paper published last month in Nature*.”
It should also be noted that the related article, in Nature*, states that “This disease outbreak… started from a local seafood market”.
“The epidemic, which started on 12 December 2019…
Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at an early stage of the outbreak. The sequences are almost identical and share 79.6% sequence identity to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, we show that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus”
Nature (Feb 2020): A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin
(Received 20th Jan, published: 03 February 2020)