A new poll from Yahoo News/YouGov shows that right-wing media outlets have been successful in convincing an uncomfortably large percentage of their viewership into believing some truly stupid shit. According to Yahoo, the polling shows that “44 percent of Republicans believe that Bill Gates is plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a pretext to implant microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements.”
On top of that, only 26% of Republicans were able to “correctly identify” a false and “widely debunked” conspiracy theory, while more than 80 percent of Democrats do realize that Bill Gates isn’t microchipping people. I wonder how many of these vaccine conspiracy theorists own a smartphone with GPS, or a car made in the past 10 years with GPS, or have the internet and an easily trackable home IP address? No one needs to microchip you. We are all walking microchips.
A breakdown of the poll showed that one-half of people who got most of their information from Fox News believed in the Gates microchipping-through-vaccination theory, and 44% of Republicans believed in this super-amazing theory of dumb. What’s important about these thoughts on vaccination is that they will likely adversely affect us when and if we are able to create and produce a successful COVID-19 vaccine. While 72% of Hillary Clinton voters say they will get a COVID-19 vaccination when available and safe, only 44% of Trump voters say they plan on getting vaccinated.
Most infectious disease experts believe that to establish “herd immunity,” at least 70% of the world’s population will need to have immunity from COVID-19. That includes people who have contracted the virus, survived, and produced the needed antibodies, as well as most of the rest of the planet’s occupants who have hopefully not contracted the virus by the time a vaccination is available. According to Yahoo, factoring in the right wing’s low numbers, only 50% of all Americans currently polled say they will get vaccinated. This is a 5% decline from a previous week’s polling. In all cases, about one-quarter of the people polled are unsure how they feel about a vaccination. And, to be honest, I cannot begrudge them that. When you consider what a disaster Trump and his administration are, it’s hard to have faith that any vaccine program he or Mike Pence or Jared Kushner are managing will be trustworthy, if released too early.
It is important to note that this is not a defense of Bill Gates and some of the terrible uses of his money and influence. In fact, what conspiracy theories like the impossibly idiotic ones being promoted against vaccinations and COVID-19 pandemic realities do is cloud up those very real—and very actionable—problems with billionaire leadership and influence on public policy. Instead, people create these intricate and convoluted conspiracy theories to explain away things that are happening in front of their eyes. While conspiracy theorists worry about the ‘New World Order’ and corrupt billionaires taking away our liberties, the Trump administration and his billionaire friends are literally working to undermine and dismantle the checks and balances system that actually ensures our liberties.