Finding Sanity Through The Noise

I have never started an entry with such misgivings. For background, I rarely chime in on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any said social application of choice. Outside of ogling over cute Labrador pictures, wishing someone a happy birthday, or checking-in on the family, I try to save my energy and avoid the noise. Billionaire toys steal from a productive lifestyle, lead to places I rarely want to go (nothing good comes from arguing with internet trolls), and are often boring. Keep your half-hour plus of whimsical clicking and think about what one can do with the right attitude and relentless focus to take control of your time.

From the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, “Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really, pressure, and time. That, and a big god-damn poster.

If you want a real-life example, research who built the castle featured in Taylor Swift’s Love Story video. I find the construction a feat of will and determination. No, the builder didn’t have millions in an account. A photographer and school teacher took the time.

Which castle was built in the great state of Tennessee?

So, why wouldn’t I spend hours commenting and scrolling through Social Media product?

Call me old fashion, but I grew up before the digital era emerged. I remember CDs, 8-Track players, and black and white televisions. So, I believed talk of Russian interference and strange conspiracy theories were overblown four years ago. How could Mark Zuckerberg throw an election? If the Russians spent a couple of million and DJT and HRC 90 million-plus, this appears over-blown.

But to quote the great Mater from Cars lore, “Until one day …” my kid started reading from the crazies in the comments on an article about Covid-19 school closings on a ridiculous local community group. A quiet realization came that people not only believe but spew this garbage like some ill-ravaged deranged gospel. These comments opened a wormhole into a place on the space-time continuum I never thought existed.

Yes, I had heard about Bill Gates conspiracy theories, and others, related to the New World Order, but I never considered how long the rabbit hole descended to find a twisted alternative reality to Alice’s Wonderland. Just maybe, we have all gone a little mad.

Here are a few notable quotes for the Hall of Fame (and corresponding rationale and research from a few simple clicks on reputable sites):

“Never will my family take this vaccine! Bill Gates is not a doctor but is the devil.”

After defending Microsoft against an antitrust suit to break up the company, Bill left the organization and started the now both famous and infamous Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Note, I reiterate foundation committed to giving his fortune away primarily focusing on education, global health, and, most notably of late, the development of vaccines.

Despite numerous baseless conspiracy-mongering articles out in the wild, there is plenty to pick at despite the good intentions:

  • Little oversight, the government has almost zero regulation in the mega-billionaire charitable industry. This is a travesty but not a surprise.
  • The place makes more money off investments annually than what is paid out to supported organizations.
  • And transparency is lacking, hard to say what kickbacks are happening to public and private entities, if any, when the details across The Foundation, personal investments, and public corporation are never fully disclosed. Sub-optimal; still, what is the alternative? As Congress abdicated their responsibility decades ago, one could argue government is the most inefficient system to spend money. That doesn’t mean you should lobby excessively to prevent regulations.
  • Castle Gwynn, It’s a Love Story.
  • During the writing of this article, I found a cool site that highlights ad spending for individual articles. Always worth a look.

This is what creates a conspiracy theory. Mix in ambiguity with the outlandish. Still, this is not a Pharmaceutical company. Gates doesn’t claim to be a doctor and only invests in the development of said vaccines. And with dance movies like this from the Windows 95 launch, does he look like some maniacal evil genius? Microsoft leadership singing, dancing, hooting, and hollering makes for entertaining YouTube watching.

I know this is basic stuff, not needing said explanation, but hey, again, I repeat the word foundation. Now about being the devil … I’m assuming Lucifer has better moves on the dance floor.

“His vaccines killed millions in India. You can keep your vaccine.”

After a little digging, two primary conspiracy theories are running in the wild. The first is a debunked article by Robert Kennedy Jr. noting an approximate half million deaths from Bill’s self-created polio vaccine, one he never developed personally, sigh. This is frankly a poor conspiracy theory. The best often show bellicose levels of ridiculousness paired with a hint of fact. This has neither. Despite the pedigree of his name, including said scandals, I can confirm addition is not a strength. Let me explain.

The WHO and other organizations, now known not to be trusted I suppose, track vaccine uptick globally. And this vaccine does have complications statistically, as all cures do. Similar to using Facebook, nothing in life is free. The number? 1 in 2.3M. I know, nobody wants to be the side effect (and even one complication or death is not acceptable), but polio devastating the earth has a much higher maturation rate. In claims, Kennedy touts numbers of up to 500K being diagnosed. I’ve tried backing into his statistics from interviews multiple times.

This is impossible, despite large populations numbers skewing the result.

On the high side for simple arithmetic, let’s assume 500 million children live in India. Kennedy’s estimate and hyperbole of 500,000 would require the vaccine’s side effects to range between 1 in 1,000. For every thousand doses, one person dies, which is well outside a confidence interval of 1 in 2.5 million. Ugh. If you do the math based on the true efficacy rate, assuming the entire population was vaccinated, you’d reach a number closer to 250. A far cry from the garbage being stewed and advertised on Facebook and other platforms. Math doesn’t lie.

“Bill Gates leads the New World Order and is embedding microchips in all of us!”

I’ve been taking the flu vaccine like a champion for 25 plus years, or as long as I can remember. Frankly, I’ve never considered the nurse, or pick major company of choice, slipping a chip into my arm or bloodstream. This is a head-scratcher.

Sure, my dog has one of these embedded with our name and address. They exist. But the technology use case never took off at scale and is only used in dystopia fiction like the Hunger Games. The name of my next Labrador shall be Katniss Everdeen.

The Ultimate Labrador, Chip Included

With all of my trips to Walgreens during the fall, I should have at least ten microchips embedded inside me. And a means to find out? My vet. Anytime they chip man’s best friend they check their handiwork. After a scanner rolled across my body, a surge of disappointment arrived.

No chip.

A great conspiracy theory debunked.

What’s crazier is inserting a chip into a vaccine program is an extreme waste of resources. If the government, or Bill Gates in this case, had the time, one could simply leverage your cell phone. Simple. Most of the crazy talkers in the comments gladly give away their freedom of privacy daily. Your trip to the grocery store. Latest purchases. Who you hang out with on the weekends. Fellow high school graduates. More information is collected by Facebook or Twitter or by run-of-the-mill weather applications, they are the worst.

These three are only a small sampling of the truth theories being bantered about in the wild.

There are others: Bill Gates and the warmongers of Tibet. Furniture stores being used to smuggle Covid-19 vials. Agenda 21. Donald Trump being targeted before the election to become sick, limiting the ability to install Amy Coney Barret on the Supreme Court. Democratic baby eaters are on the march. The map of Covid cases being code for stomping out human traffickers. Fauci and Bill created the virus, making millions on future vaccines. And …. The list goes on. You can’t make these up.

I don’t want to say outlandish hypotheses be declared “crazy” outright. This isn’t fair. There is a fine line between genius and madness. Instead of piling on because you’re in a corner, we should stop and think through the incentive models.

Ask, Why is someone posting or arguing a point? Are they a paid organizer? Making money through a so-called non-profit? Do they want to drive page clicks, which in turn leads to a fat bank account?

I once wrote a short blurb on lunar lander conspiracy theories that continues to receive more than just the occasional page view. Did the US go to the moon? Well, you’d be surprised how many believe in their heart of hearts that Neil Armstrong didn’t take one small step for man. And that’s not including the Russian propaganda machine spouting nonsense despite other countries identifying the flags and equipment that have remained in place since the 60s, quietly collecting space dust.

The Moon, Sponsored by Nasa

Sigh, this stuff is seductive. Outlandish. And worst of all, these odd theories impact folks in strange ways. Read enough and you can go crazy. Take the time to ask questions. Leverage Occam’s Razor. Protect your friends, family, and children from nonsense. Would Bill go to the trouble to insert a microchip into your arm at scale? Or step back, and remember this great quote from the award-winning movie Billy Madison:

“Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul!”

With science, transparency, common sense, and a little caring for one another, we can work through this trying time together. So, turn off the WiFi router and go take a walk outside.

Here is to hope.

Other Notes:

  • For full disclosure, I worked at Microsoft for over five years and had the time of my life. Enjoyed going to market. And miss my team, we put ourselves out there, pushing and doing a little good for the community and customers. Ecosystems are important.
  • Note, the statistics for this article were provided by the CDC, renowned medical institutions in the US, and other reputable organizations. Believe what you want to believe. Sigh.
  • So why spout nonsense? Perhaps, facts don’t matter anymore. We only want to score points instead of actually trying to help one another.
  • Castle Gwynn, A Love Story.
  • How do vaccines work, sponsored by the CDC.
  • In writing this article, I found a tool that Facebook published that touts how much is spent on advertisements on the platform.
  • Special thanks to those who found the comments and researched the outlandish along with me.