It seems we still live in an age of fear, disinformation, cynicism (which as we all know is intellectual laziness!) scaremongering disguised as public relations activity, and fake news.
While efforts from the varying modern (as of 2020) distribution channels for information and news are being made to discourage falsehood — all while maintaining freedom of speech — in both online and offline spaces, the focus has become punitive, instead of being based on accountability and prevention. Increasingly, we see the punishing of writers, publishers and news outlets, rather than encouragement of critical and independent thinking which should, in theory, help stop disinformation spreading at the source: people themsleves.
Part of this tide of fear and foaming-at-the-mouth, was the odd yet alluring belief that one of the wealthiest, and most politically (but non-governmentally) powerful individuals in the world – Bill Gates – might be an invisible, nefarious hand who is silently behind the steering wheel of the world.
It’s a fanciful idea. But without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it is important to dissect fears in order to overcome them – such as the fear of Bill Gates.
In this article, we seek to explore some of the rationale from across the spectrum of apochyphal through to undogmatic – wherein we might have to use our brains and exercise cognitive dissonance (it’s not a bad thing).
Here are some reasons people believe the conspiracies around Bill Gates:
1.Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation apparently held unauthorised medical research trials during the Covid-19 pandemic
2. Bill Gates is currently not a qualified doctor, medical professional or epidemiologist, but comments and acts on issues relating to these life-or-death fields regularly
3. Many people see philanthropy as a debt to society from unpaid tax, and not as a benevolent actWhy do people believe the Bill Gates conspiracies about Coronavirus in 2020?
1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation held Coronavirus testing and research during the Covid-19 pandemic that the FDA had to halt
In the spring of 2020, The New York Times and local Seattle reporters discovered that a Coronavirus testing program has been implemented by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — without the backing of the FDA.
Reported globally in Reuters and the New York Times, this medical and PR gaffe from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation quickly got culled.
Bill Gates is currently not a medical or epidemiologist professional, but comments and acts on issues relating to these fields regularly
Yes, some people really don’t like people that read books. It’s kind of lame, and sad. They even bully them.
But in the postmodern age which conflates hyperreality with reality, the idea of the expert is both more divisive than ever. And some individuals may be taking advantage of that — sliding themselves into the expert role without the expert proof.
For many people, the expertise and ease with which Bill Gates can talk around health topics that don’t relate to his original endeavours in computer science and business, is equivocal to helping himself to the candy shop, as opposed to simply succeeding as an autodidact, of self-initiated learning. It’s perceived as fake.
This means simply reading on a topic can be understood by some as arrogance rather than as a discipline.
People also have forgotten that many like Bill Gates have personal reasons to act within the global health field.
However, the caveats of public opinion come from the basic and inherent need to eliminate fraud: as a self-appointed expert is able to raise themselves to the same status as those who venture the usual pathways of study that is expected of formally approved, regulated professionals such as professors, doctors and post-doctoral research fellows. Undergoing years and training and approval- which includes ethics training and proof of practice which a self-appointed expert does not need to do – helps provide reassurance of, at least in the medical field, the Hippocratic Oath. It is oft-forgotten in the data obsessed age, in that medical confidentiality and the agreement to do no harm are the core tenets of what is the oldest known living oath in the history of humanity.
On the other hand, (for example) the worry here is that any ‘quack’ can therefore call themselves a medical professional without having undergone any supervised or legally-protected training, which might lead to a lack of accountability from actions which results from self-imposed learning objectives.
This is why, for the most part, being a doctor, teacher, psychologist, military leader or similar are usually in the realm of ‘protected professions’, because of the life-and-death consequences these roles can have on people’s lives can be permanent.
For a person to make themselves a ‘king without a crown’ is trifling – and can be devastating when it comes to global health, as the powerful can make their own rules.
The magnitude of dissonance is incredibly high when it comes to medical status which leaves people feeling scared and worried about who has interests in their survival – and maybe rightfully so. On the other hand, powerful, wealthy individuals can invest in the proliferation of technology which makes the world a healthier place.
The analogy of the snake oil salesman is utilised heavily, but still describes how people feel about fake doctors, people who claim to be experts when they are not regulated or trained, and false cures: they are pointless, harmful and sustain false ideas in order for an interested party to earn money.
Some people see philanthropy as a debt rather than benevolence as a means to affect global and social change
Philanthropy is a divisive subject. For the most part, the drive to give back via the method of philanthropy comes from an instinct that is simultaneously related to love, human charity, and corporate social responsibility.
However other commentators and academics have been sceptical of philanthropy and view it as a sort of paternalistic social debt, which strips the state and public services of its own power, and places the idea of ‘worthiness’ in the hands of the already most powerful and wealthy individuals, but without the accountability of the state. This creates a type of plutocracy (rule by wealth) – which isn’t quite the same as a democracy (rule by people).
For individual wealth to be amassed at such a huge scale, there is usually an understanding that there necessarily has to be a dearth or lack elsewhere in the economy at similar scale, in order to create this imbalance or inequality or have and have-not.
For many (certainly not all) wealthy individuals, this can indicate a minimisation of the initial patronage to the state. This might be the avoidance or escape from tax and labour costs, both of which are social contract concepts which are supposed to create balance and civility in the world at large by means of functional food, health and security systems which serve all humans equally at the point of need. However, this equality isn’t something that can currently be observed.
At the same time, fully state-controlled food, health and security supplies that don’t engender personal choice, can also be highly problematic – this is authoritarianism. Bill Gates says something similar when discussing the issue of billionaires’.
This has long been a discussion, a debate and what some label as a class war that wouldn’t need to exist if taxes were really set on a scaled and utilitarian basis, and if plutocracies were understood to be dangerous forms of governance.
In some thought circles, the philanthropy we see today is not driven by donation, but by profit, known as philanthrocapitalism, which by definition isn’t the same as a wealthy person giving away their money as a legacy without a profit motive.
While this type of venture should be obvious to the populace – for most, it isn’t.
And yet what might be “poverty tourism” for some, is simply doing good, for others.
Postscript: The Fear Narrative and The Agenda?
However, related to this idea of a double agenda, which is often just the same idea seen through a different lens, is the increasing mass paranoia related to human movement restrictions from authority rule as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, versus authority-based public messaging that insists on the public good – which do not gel together.
For example: people are asked to distance themselves and stay home where possible, however, they are also asked to go out shopping en masse and “support the economy”. These two ideas do not gel, because social distancing in a mass of people cannot exist in a finite space.
With a narrative on the one hand for people to isolate themselves and prevent viral spread, while also being asked to congregate and go shopping in the middle of previously stated pandemic measures: no wonder people think something more sinister is going on.Why do people believe the Bill Gates conspiracies about Coronavirus in 2020?
This social sentiment is something that Russell Brand tried to analyse in more detail:
Privilege and wealth are different – but they are the same in that they are sources of power.
And that is why we might suddenly be seeing the top 1% of Millennials and their younger counterparts, who are about to inherit massive amounts of wealth from their Gen X and Boomer parents, go on a ruthless mission to give it “back” and give it all away.
So why do people believe the conspiracy theories around Bill Gates? Without making profiling-based assumptions, it is because there are a vast range of socio-political factors and powers which are leading people to draw their own conclusions due to their understanding of a large lack of information, which might otherwise disprove these beliefs.