Humans are natural-born storytellers, and this is fundamental in how we make sense of the world around us. It is also how we form close communal ties and how the human species has done so well in the game of survival. In fact, it is so prominent in the structure of our minds that a large part of our evolutionary success can be contributed towards our propensity for storytelling.

From the moment we are born, we hear imaginary tales of Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny. Unable to differentiate between fact and fiction as innocent children, we believe in the imaginary tales simply because we are told they are true — despite there being no proof. This also follows us into adulthood, that is we don’t still believe in the tooth fairy, but we are open to theories about the world around us and we often believe the information we read without doing any fact-checking behind it — which is one reason why conspiracy theories have such a vast amount of followers and believers.

However, this not just because we believe things we shouldn’t, it is because our brains are hard-wired to consume storytelling. As described in an article from lifehacker:

The simple answer is this: We are wired that way. A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. In fact, Jeremy Hsu found (in an article for Scientific America) [that] “personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.”

Unfortunately, this innate love of storytelling can lead us down false paths and can create dangers to society; the current pandemic has shown us just how quickly rumours can spread and cause outrage amongst the public in an incredibly large scale. Conspiracies are wildly speculated and rarely based on any actual evidence. Despite this, a large percentage of the population will argue their truth and even act out in violent and harmful ways.

Are 5G Towers are causing the current pandemic?

This is one of the most popular theories. Discussed in January, an interview printed with a general practitioner — unsurprisingly has since been deleted — sparked the interest and misinformation around the introduction of 5G. Sure enough, articles appeared on every social media platform being shared millions of times, creating mindless havoc from those who wear their tinfoil hats proudly.

The media were particularly unhelpful in clearing up this issue. Writers failed to clarify their articles as misinformation by printing opinions as opposed to any supporting evidence. As it stands, there is NO evidence to support the claims; yet this did not stop a large number of underachievers, or those somewhat misguided from attacking and setting fire to 5G Towers. It is reported people are attacking the very equipment needed to assist the current health crisis — and possibly compromising essential telecommunication services. Scientists have been forced to speak out about 5G, saying it is simply not possible.

Coronavirus was accidentally released by the Chinese as a bio-weapon:
The truth around COVID-19 originating from bats seems to be long forgotten, buried underneath mounds of talk on the Chinese accidentally leaking a bio-weapon from a chemical weapons factory in Wuhan. Scientists have studied the virus’ DNA and concluded that it has come from a source in nature — most likely a bat.

This has turned dangerous, causing a string of attacks and racism towards those of Chinese and Asian ethnicity. There are attacks taking place anywhere from the street to in a supermarket, despite there being NO way to suggest that the origin of the disease is all the Chinese. A lot of people have stated on social media that they will be avoiding people/restaurants of certain origins, and Corona Extra pale lager.

It’s all a hoax to distract the country from Brexit:
I don’t particularly want to give this theory any of my time at all, given it is a huge disrespect to the work of our national health system. However, it was amusing and far-fetched enough to talk about. People online have proclaimed that the virus is a hoax set up by the US military.

The only thing we can say to these are; death’s don’t lie. Nobody is fabricating a long list of cases and deaths across the globe to distract you from a political situation in the UK. Scientists are not working this hard around the clock — as an act to take your attention away from other matters. On top of this, Brexit updates are readily available online. I would recommend watching Panorama: on the NHS Frontline to everybody, especially those who are trying to reinforce this “hoax” premise. I watched this 2 nights ago, and I haven’t been as moved by anything on the TV since I first watched Marley and Me. It was truly heartbreaking and a real eye-opener for those of us enjoying quarantine safely in our houses, spending time with our family with little-to-no work to do. The virus is real, and people’s loved ones are dying every day.

Bill Gates would like to microchip everybody by using a vaccine:

When I heard this, I spent a long time reading the reasoning behind it. Some claim he wants to profit from the Virus, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses massively on helping fund and research against diseases all over the world such as HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Working in Africa, Europe, China, India, and the Middle East, it’s clear Bill and Melinda Gates are incredibly enthusiastic about global health — donating over 250 million dollars to fund COVID 19 research.

Despite all of his tremendous work, the story of Gates wanting to inject us all with a microchip using a COVID19 vaccine has become so popular on Youtube and Twitter that it completely stormed the popularity of the 5G Theory. The video of his TED talk from 2005, predicting a future epidemic, has also become popular in the blame game, despite it being down to his intellect rather than his mastermind plan to control the world.

Most social media sites have agreed to attempt to monitor and remove any fake news around the Coronavirus pandemic, including slander towards him. This has not stopped some of the public lashing out over the story, claiming they will refuse any vaccine. The irony of the uproar over being tracked is most of the anti-vaccine-anti-bill-gates club use face recognition, debit/credit card payments, registered travel cards, and carry cell phones. Most of us are already aware of the extent our phones can track our interests, purchases, and movements, which I discovered on Google Maps once looking at how much I haven’t been anywhere interesting in weeks!

I believe rather than trying to pin blame on anything we can by denying the facts presented before us, a lot of people could benefit from being more critical readers — a topic I looked at previously in an article on How Technology has changed our reading habits. We can work on this simply by researching the things we read and using reliable sources to back up or learn more on the information we take in online. Thus we are not just passive receptors of headlines, but pro-active and thoughtful thinkers.