On Protests and Conspiracy Theories

This virus has drawn some truly amazing behavior out of us as a society, hasn’t it? We’ve seen leaders step up and take decisive action to protect people. We’ve seen science and medical professionals rise to the challenge of treating patients and finding cures. We’ve seen people learn new ways to connect and stay in touch with their loved ones. There’s been a lot to commend us.

But we’ve also seen a lot of really spiteful behavior. We have a president desperately deflecting responsibility for failures, while smirkingly taking credit for small victories that he had nothing to do with. We’ve seen people putting the lives of others at risk to impotently protest the actions designed to keep them safe. And we’ve seen a whole new wave of virulent misinformation and loathsome deception spread across the internet.

I want to give those who act on, and share, these absurd ideas some grace. Most of those doing the sharing are squarely in Dunning-Kruger territory — possessing a false confidence that comes from knowing a little bit about a subject, but not enough to understand how much information they’re missing. I also realize that fear drives people to lash out, and that things they don’t fully understand (like how cell phone towers or viruses work) make prime targets for irrational reactions.

I want to give them some grace, but when you see pictures of nurses calmly blocking an intersection in front of a hospital, literally using their bodies to protect the sick from the misguided protestors who think their rights are being impinged… I just haven’t got any grace left to offer.

In 2009 the FCC ended the broadcast of analog television content, freeing up radio spectrum that had been reserved for this kind of broadcast since at least 1949. 5G is the result of this, and other moves, to re-purpose existing radio frequencies for advanced wireless services. What this means is that the very signals people are afraid of right now have been around for over 70 years! Instead of carrying TV content, those radio waves are carrying Internet data packets, but its still just modulated data. Modulated data cannot be used to transmit or activate a biological virus. It can, however, be used to spread fear and misinformation.

In 2000, one of the world’s most successful business leaders redirected his considerable brain power and money from selling software to solving problems with sewage treatment and medical infrastructure in third world countries. Bill and Melinda Gates could do literally anything they wanted, and they chose to invest their time in helping people deal with poop. In 2015, after fighting the spread of disease for 15 years, Bill warned everyone that we were unprepared for a global pandemic, and that we were heading for trouble. 4 years later, we got trouble, and within weeks people are blaming the person who predicted it would happen, and insisting on their right to be reckless with other people’s lives.

These things are frustrating, because obviously they’re stupid. Obviously no rational person would believe that Bill Gates is using 5G radio signals to cause a pandemic so he can lock people in their houses and take over the world… Except that rational people are actually sharing these ideas like they’re truth. And I can’t escape the correlation that its the people who are most impacted economically, and who have the least formal education, that are the ones spreading these poisonous ideas. I know it sounds arrogant, but it shouldn’t be wrong to point out when someone is doing something stupid out of ignorance and fear. As much as I have been a proponent of, and participant in, a free and open Internet, I am opposed to the distribution and glorification of ignorance.

Conspiracy theories are fun intellectual exercises — they’re a “what if” exploration, that in better times make for good entertainment (I mean, who didn’t love the X-Files in the 90s?) But they are not news, they are not supportable with science and research, and they should not be shared with the same weight or given the same attention as actual information. If you see something on the Internet that sounds like it explains a part of the world you don’t understand, you owe it to yourself, to your social media connections, and to civilization as a whole, to respond responsibly. You can either:

A) Pursue a degree in the topic from an accredited higher education institution, or seek out 3-5 years of equivalent on-the-job experience. Because yes, its hard work to develop actual expertise.

B) Shut up, admit to yourself you are not competent on the matter, and acknowledge that your opinion is not worth the bytes of memory it gets stored on.

I have more to say on professional sources of opinion (so called “news”) but I’ll save that for another post — suffice it to say, yes, there is an alternative to the “main stream” media that doesn’t foment conspiracy theories. But instead of going into that right now, I’m going to close this with an additional admonishment to those who follow Jesus. As Christians, the standard for Godly wisdom is clearly provided for us in the book of James:

Wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.

If what you’re reading is not reasonable, not impartial, and not peace-loving, don’t share it. You damage your testimony by embracing hateful opinions. You malign your Savior by spreading fear. And worst of all, your gullibility makes your faith look foolish.

2 thoughts on “On Protests and Conspiracy Theories

  1. I wrote a reply to this message for friends of mine who posted it. I don’t think you saw it. But, this morning, God asked me to share it with you. This is what I wrote:

    How to spot the spirit of the anti-Christ (1John 4:3)

    Last month I read a piece that someone had written and people had shared. After I read it, Holy Spirit said to me, “Well, that was the most anti-Christ thing I’VE ever read.” I said, “What? Really? How?” He then began to pick it apart for me piece by piece so I could understand. God said, “Teach the people so that they may understand, too.” This is not in response to a person but rather to the spirit of anti-Christ. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 6:12. So, here it is.

    First, Jesus never called the common, every day people names. He called names to the Elites of his time, the Pharisees (Matt 12:34), but he never called the common people names. Jesus had compassion on the people. He was willing to help them (Matt 8:3). Jesus did rebuke their lack of faith but he didn’t call them names or call them stupid for doing it. He was just trying to teach them to have faith which is not done by name calling (Matt 8:26). So, if someone is calling names or saying people are stupid for something, that is the spirit of anti-Christ. It is the opposite of what Jesus did. Wow, I had to repent of this one for how many times have I called people names or said they were stupid? I’m so glad Holy Spirit revealed this.

    Second, it was suggested that a person needed to have 3-5 years of schooling in order to have a valid opinion on something. God said, mirror that to the theology that is given. This writer would then believe that no one can tell another person about the Good News of Jesus until they have 3-5 years of schooling. Then, Holy Spirit said to me, “Is that how Jesus got the Good News out? Did He only use learned people? “No,” I said, “He used fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, etc. He did also use Paul who was a scholar. He used many different types of people.” Holy Spirit said, “Exactly. So, to say that one can only listen to scholars is opposite of what Jesus taught. It is anti Christ.” God can use anyone to share His wisdom.

    Then, God showed me about this need to believe in science. He said, “So, people are going to put their faith in science, the same science that tried to tell the children about darwinism in schools? That is anti Christ.” He showed me that real science is not wrong but to put it above faith in God is. Jesus defied science when he healed people and brought people back from the dead (Matt 4:24, John 11:43-44). 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 says, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’ So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” We are not to put science above God and His wisdom. That is humanism. That is anti Christ. Jesus always pointed the people to His Father in heaven not to anyone or anything else.

    Then God reminded me of the verse that says we need to be like little children to inherit the kingdom of God (Matt 18:3). We need to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. We need the Spirit of wisdom that God gives (1 Corinthians 1:17) and the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

    So, in short, I wanted to share this with you because I never saw the anti-Christ agenda so clear before. It really is just anti Christ (opposite of Christ). I used to think that the spirit of the anti-Christ meant that someone would come in shouting, “Down with Jesus!” But, God has shown me that it is a lot more subtle than that. We need to be on the look out for what is exactly opposite of Jesus. We need to be on guard against the devil’s schemes.

    Then, this morning God asked me to ask you, “What side are you going to be on?”

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