Fact Checking the ‘Following the Science?’ Conspiracy Theory Video

As you’re all too aware, there are some crazy theories floating around about the pandemic and Covid-19 vaccines. Every few days someone sends me a link to a must-watch-before-Big-Tech-censors it! video explaining how the pandemic is really a ploy to set up a global Marxist government or a covert plot to depopulate the world. One video that kept coming my way was called Following the Science? created by an obscure Catholic group called Countdown to the Kingdom that shares ‘prophecies’ about the end times. Riddled with errors and driven by fear, I thought it worth sharing some of the feedback I’ve given others about it.

If you haven’t seen Following the Science? please don’t seek it out. The last thing the creators need is the glory of higher viewer numbers. If you have seen it and are confused, here are some points to ponder – points which are common to other conspiracy theory videos about the pandemic too. Following the Science? claims that masks, lockdowns and social distancing are part of a coercive plot to destroy us through mass vaccination. Since vaccines are key to this argument, I’ll focus on that part of the video. That section itself has too many problems to mention in detail, so consider what follows as a sampling.

Editing Out Context

Tight editing with clips taken out of context. Sentences of interview guests begun then faded out without completion. No time stamps as to when things were originally said. Following the Science? has all these and more, raising big red flags. We can make anyone say anything we like using these kind of techniques – and the editors do so here. Some examples:

  • At the 42min mark the host says the chair of America’s Food and Drug Administration “blocked” further questions about the (Pfizer) vaccine and immunity. Actually the chair says they can be taken “offline”
  • At the 43min mark Dolores Cahill talks about “all animals dying and the mRrna vaccines were never licensed.” Used here that sounds sinister, but may be talking about previous vaccine projects that didn’t go ahead as they weren’t viable or safe
  • Like many Covid conspiracy videos, Following the Science? lifts a quote from a 2010 TED Talk by Bill Gates (on reducing CO2 levels), where he talks about ‘reducing’ the global population “by vaccines, health care and reproductive health services”. This is presented as proof of his sinister intentions to kill via a vaccine, but ignores the ‘health care’ bit (how does one kill through health care?). As plenty of fact-check articles show, he was talking about how reducing mortality rates reduces population because people in poor countries tend to have less children when their relatives aren’t dying
  • Clips of people violently shaking are strung together to warn of the ‘effects’ of vaccines. But how long did these people shake for? Was it days or seconds? Are we certain these were caused by the vaccine? And were these people permanently damaged? Such details don’t matter to the editors as their purpose is to instil fear – which they do

False Claims

The claims made in the video are both repeatedly outrageous and contradictory. For example:

  • At the 33min mark Peter McCullough says that America has “80 percent herd immunity without the vaccine effect. People who have Covid develop complete and durable immunity.” Whenever this statement was made (it was obviously before the US vaccine roll out), it’s ludicrously wrong. The US has had two large Covid-19 spikes so far and many thousands of deaths before the vaccine roll out – not herd immunity
  • The video suggests vitamin D is a cure for Covid-19 through boosting the immune system. While Vitamin D deficiency could of course lead to someone being more vulnerable to viruses like Covid-19, that doesn’t make vitamin D a cure
  • The video rolls out the common conspiratorial claim that Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin are already proven preventatives for Covid-19 but are being suppressed by the World Health Organisation, media and government. But an independent study into Hydroxychloroquine by Oxford University found it had no effect on Covid-19, and a core study for Ivermectin’s claims as a treatment (never a preventative) were recently found to have been fabricated. (I’ve talked about this before here.) There are safe and cheap treatment drugs for Covid-19, like Dexamethasone, and a current Oxford study into Ivermectin may yet find it effective. But no treatment is a replacement for a vaccine, and neither is proof of some global suppression of vaccine alternatives

Questionable Credibility

Following the Science? makes a big deal of the fact it includes the views of experts. Indeed, having immunologists and former Pfizer executives on the line up at first looks impressive. But:

  • It’s interesting to note how many well-known anti-vax personalities are included in the video – like Christine Northrup and Sheri Tenpenny, part of the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ of vaccine conspiracy theory super-spreaders
  • Others like Dolores Hill and Roger Hodkinson are well-known ‘freedom fighters’ against lockdowns and other government measures. From my experience so far, the ‘experts’ that go on these videos tend to have these political motives as their driving force, rather than science
  • Former Pfizer exec Michael Yeadon gets a lot of time in the video, and his case is intriguing. Reuters examined thousands of his tweets and interviewed former colleagues to try and work out why he went from being pro-Covid vaccine in March 2020 to anti-vaccine in April. Whatever the reason is, during the UK’s first lockdown (April-June 2020) Yeadon said Covid-19 wasn’t a particularly frightening disease, would fade away, and wouldn’t result in no more than 40,000 deaths. Well, 130,000 deaths later in the UK, these claims have been proven false. In October 2020 Yeadon said Covid-19 would simply fizzle out. It hasn’t. And the early, unsubstantiated rumours he spread about vaccine effects on fertility were rightly condemned at the time and have since been proven false

Credibility isn’t just about having ‘Dr’ in front of your name, but about having specific and relevant expertise, proximity to what you’re talking about, and a track record of responsible, objective, accurate comment.

Measuring the Wrong Things

Following the Science? repeatedly fails to measure risk against the right markers. For example, it talks about the vaccine (probably Pfizer, although this isn’t specified) causing blood clots in young men. It is known that Myocarditis is an extremely rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine in a very small number of young men after a second dose. What the video fails to mention is that the risk of Myocarditis in young men from Covid-19 is much greater. (The same thing applies to the Oxford AZ vaccine and blood clots, the risk being worse from Covid-19 itself.) This lack of appropriate comparison of risk is a common trait of conspiratorial videos like this, aiming to invoke fear over clarity.

And The Big One…

As to the dramatic conclusion of Following the Science? that an evil global elite led by Bill Gates is using ‘the vaccine’ to depopulate the world – either by murdering us through the vaccine itself or inducing infertility so we can’t reproduce (which aim isn’t made clear) – well, it’s hard to know where to start. At the very least this crazy claim is at odds with the video’s other claim that vaccination is being pushed by Big Phrama companies for profit (if we’re all going to die, who benefits from the profits?). It’s also completely ignorant of how the Gates Foundation works, and seems to forget there are a variety of vaccines and treatment programmes in operation unrelated to each other – like the Oxford AZ vaccine created by Oxford University and funded by the British government on a not-for-profit basis (AstraZeneca manufacturing the vaccine, not inventing it, and on a non-profit basis for the next few years).

Following the Science? is emotive . . . and erroneous. I shudder to think how many people might be influenced by it and risk their lives and the health of their loved ones. The lesson is: follow verifiable facts from credible, accountable sources close to the action. And steer clear of the fear mongers.

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