I wouldn’t believe this if I weren’t directly involved in it myself. It wouldn’t make sense to me if I didn’t know the rest of the cast of characters. In fact, even though I have a front-row seat I still have trouble believing it or making sense out of it.
This is how a hoax works.
Back in mid-March, I was exposed to COVID-19. I know exactly who gave it to me. I’m one of a group of ten people who got sick, out of sixteen who were exposed. (Two are young kids and eight are under 40).
There is a bit of a question of whether the person who gave it to me also gave it to Trainer Dude, or whether she got it from him. It’s a bit of a moot point. Not only will nobody ever know, but they both have similar attitudes and similar behaviors at this point. The main differences between them are that she is single and has a corporate job, while he is a dad who runs his own business.
This man, who either got COVID-19 from the same person I did, or gave it to her first, believes that the pandemic is a hoax.
How is this possible??
He believes that it’s “just a flu.” He believes that a few people may die from it, just like the regular flu, but that it is no bigger deal than that. Basically he doesn’t think it’s real.
Even though he and his girlfriend were sick, even though at least four of his training clients were sick, even though he is part of a fairly large cluster - he doesn’t think it’s real.
“What about me??” I said to my friend who was relating all this. “Does he realize I had to go to the hospital and get a chest x-ray?”
This is where I start to struggle and have some epistemological issues.
I know that my experience was real, because I lived it. The only way I can interpret the evidence of my physical senses and my lived reality is to assume that it is empirically true, that it really happened and that I’m not imagining it, or watching a video of it from the afterlife.
For someone who knows me to claim that my experience was part of a hoax raises several questions.
The two people in this anecdote, Trainer Dude and my Patient Zero, share a lot of beliefs and behaviors. They both believe that they are now 100% immune to COVID. They both quit social distancing as soon as they were well, in defiance of county orders. They think that anyone who is still worried has anxiety problems.
These are factual claims that are internally consistent and shared, apparently, by many in our region.
My quaranteam buddy and I also share internally consistent beliefs that contrast with these. We both know people who were hospitalized with COVID and put on ventilators; we both were sick for at least a month and still suffering some symptoms weeks later; we both got secondary lung infections and had to take antibiotics.
I know five people who have lost someone. My friend’s wife died of COVID. My other friend’s dad died of COVID.
For me to believe that “this is a hoax,” I would have to pick apart the stories of multiple friends. I would have to assume that each of them was either lying or going insane. Then I would have to find a way to explain why their stories were so similar.
Do these people I’ve known for so long actually know each other, and for some reason they never told me? Because they are colluding?
Would this imply that I’m part of a conspiracy (one that I can’t remember, implying that I’m either being drugged or hypnotized or that I have multiple personalities) - and that my friends are part of *yet another* conspiracy? They’re part of something that I don’t know about, even though it apparently has the same aims and practices as the one I don’t even know I’m in?
Isn’t it simpler and easier to just assume that the virus *is* real and that these dozens of people are telling the truth? Especially since I had it, too?
Why would I be a part of a hoax about this pandemic?
At the time I got ill, I worked for myself. I didn’t stand to benefit from missing work or collecting on some kind of claim. I already had the ability to take naps on demand. I can’t figure out, even from the perspective of a devil’s advocate, how I would personally stand to gain from faking being deathly ill for a month.
I also can’t figure out how someone would financially benefit from it. There’s this weird conspiracy theory that Bill Gates caused COVID so he could profit from making vaccines. But... he’s already a billionaire?? And it’s cheaper and easier to just make software??
Elon Musk brought up the same point, that it would be a lot easier to make a profit building another website than making cars or going to space. (Or selling limited edition hats...) Same reason I went back to work, because I can make more money faster and more reliably with an admin job than I could with a book deal.
I don’t tend to believe in conspiracy theories because I am one of the only people I know who is capable of keeping a secret. More people should notice that it’s almost impossible to coordinate a large group doing anything, anything at all, from choosing a restaurant to meeting at an agreed location at the same time. The conspiracy theories that we know about? We know about. People just are not that organized.
Which is another reason I know that COVID-19 is real. Because it’s been a giant bungled mess from the get-go. That’s entirely consistent with what anyone can observe of human behavior in groups.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies