COVID-19 is not a hoax
Last April British citizens eagerly anticipated faster internet as 5G towers were being installed and yet 30 of the towers were burned and vandalized.
A popular conspiracy theory convinced people that 5G towers caused COVID-19. Of course, that proved to be untrue but the individuals who torched the towers believed themselves to be heroes.
The people who harassed and attacked 80 technicians installing 5G towers were good people who thought they were saving their communities from a horrible disease. The misinformation circulating about COVID-19 has been referred to as an infodemic. Much of the misinformation is motivated by greed. Websites promising cures are often phishing sites used to collect credit card numbers. Websites with articles about eye-catching but false information have been used to install malware.
It’s vital that we cut through the false conspiracy theories. Firstly COVID-19 is not a hoax. Epidemics and pandemics are a natural part of the human experience. The first documented epidemic was a flu-like disease that ravaged Asia and the Middle East in 1,200 B.C.E.
There have been countless epidemics from ancient times until today. One false claim is that the press has inflated the numbers of COVID-19. Data from mortuaries, hospital census, and public health offices all agree that this is a large and serious outbreak.
Just because you don’t personally know someone who has died from the virus doesn’t mean that it’s not real. Because it’s new scientist have been studying the virus for less then a year and there is much we don’t know. What we do know is that facemasks and social distancing are effective to slow the spread of this deadly disease.
Through the generations we have gotten past epidemics of bubonic plague, smallpox, typhus, measles, diphtheria, cholera, yellow fever and numerous flus. We will get past COVID-19 but it will happen a lot sooner if we can work together. We need to let go of the conspiracy theories, social distance and wear a mask.
Voting should be accessible to every citizen
As the presidential election approaches and Trump’s poll numbers continue to decline, we are beginning to see the inevitable prediction that mail-in voting will lead to massive voter fraud.
This is a common trope that is fueled by random anecdotes and is debunked by all the empirical data to the contrary. A Washington Post analysis of general elections in three Western states in 2016 and 2018 found the incidence of double voting was 0.0025.
Another study, supported by the Pew Charitable Trust, found only 0.001 percent incidence of voter fraud. The assumption of voter fraud not only flies in the face of data it is an insult to the election officials in every state who, with the support of experts in technology, have designed elaborate systems to mitigate this risk.
Ironically the most chaotic election in my lifetime was Gore V Bush, when old fashioned voting machines nearly caused a constitutional crisis. So it’s odd that mail-in voting, which has been supported by both parties in the past, is suddenly the focus of suspicion for some Republicans.
This is especially odd in the midst of the coronavirus, when avoiding large groups is so critical to public health. Coronavirus has resulted in the support of nearly every state for either mail-in or absentee ballots.
Based on reality we should be more concerned about voter suppression than voter fraud. In most states access to poles looks very different depending on zip code. In some states the poor, Black and Brown people have to travel long distances and stand in line for hours to vote.
We choose to hold elections on Tuesday when many low wage workers have to work long shifts and many single parents do not have childcare. Why not hold voting on Saturday or Sunday? Why not have polling places in or near churches? And, if we really want to have a Democracy, why not make voting easily accessible for every eligible citizen?
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