Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Great Hantavirus Pandemic Conspiracy

Since we were talking about conspiracies yesterday, I thought I'd continue in the same vein by taking a look at the recent hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park.

Here are the facts -- not that those tend to matter to conspiracy theorists.

Hantavirus is an RNA virus that is carried by deer mice, and is present in their urine, droppings, and saliva.  When deer mice come into contact with human -- e.g. in cabins -- the mouse droppings dry out, and the resultant dust can be inhaled, carrying the virus into the human respiratory system.  Once a human is infected, the disease progresses rapidly, beginning with flulike symptoms, and eventually causing pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.  There is no treatment, and even with medical care, about half of infected patients die.  (Source)

The recent outbreak in Yosemite National Park, in the "Signature Tent Cabins," led to 10,000 people being exposed.  Note that this is simply the number who occupied the cabins this summer; it is unknown how many of them actually came in contact with the virus.  As of right now, six people have been confirmed to have contracted the disease, and two of the infected have died.  (Source)  The cabins were closed on August 24, and as hantavirus has an incubation period of two to four weeks, it is likely that there will be few other cases amongst the people who visited the park.

So, anyway, that's the situation.  Scary for those exposed, sad for those who have actually contracted the disease, and otherwise, it's pretty much over.  Hantavirus has never been shown to be transmissible from human to human, so that's it for the epidemic (if I can call an outbreak that sickened six people that).

But try telling your average conspiracy theorist that.

Here are a few direct quotes from conspiracy sites.  I am including only a few, because after reading these, I felt my cerebral cortex turning to cream of wheat, and I had to stop.  (Spelling and punctuation has been left intact, because that improves the overall effect.)
  • This could be the new Pandemic, the worldwide killer that wipes out mankind ,in the 14th century the Black Death wiped out 25 million people and this was before planes and easy travel throughout the world, if that many people died in the 14th century imagine the destruction and devestation in the modern world where you can jump on a plane tomorrow and end up in Timbuktoo ,25 million would be like chicken feed ,make no mistake this has no cure and if it goes airborne and can be transmitted through handshakes ,coughs and sneezes ,the world will have no need to be worried about any asteroid hitting or Yellowstone erupting in 2012.
  •  Remember the big rig that spilled 600 25# bags of sulfur near the entrance to Yosemite in April?  Anyone wondering if that stuff was really sulfur?  It closed the roads nearby.  Was this just an excuse to close everything up so they could spray the park with deadly hantavirus?  Just in time for summer vacations...
  •  Its another false flag operation to draw attention away from what's going on at the Democratic National Convention.  Like we can't see through what their doing.
  • Obama and his cronies are hiding their role in this.  Start a deadly pandemic in an election year, so that it gives you something to claim you're fighting against.  And while millions are dying, they get into office permanently.  Watch for it, sheeple.  You'll be living in a fascist dictatorship before you know it... if you're one of the survivors.
  • There are now 12000 people sick with this right now and that's the ones we know about, how many more, are we being told the total truth about this, in less than a week thousands more infected, imagine a month, a year, 5 yrs from now planet earth could be the corpse planet, maybe this is why their looking at other planets that could support life.
Oh, okay!  And maybe all of these are true!  At the same time!  It's a pandemic, millions are sick and we aren't being told, because President Obama ordered the National Park Service to spray deer mice in Yosemite with hantavirus and release them in the cabins so that vacationing people would get ill during the Democratic National Convention, allowing the delegates to appoint him Supreme Dictator of the Earth without anyone noticing, and now that this has happened he will take his cronies on a spaceship to another habitable planet, leaving the rest of the Earth's population to die in agony.

Hey, it could happen.

What blows my mind about all of this is how fact-resistant these people are.  Show them press releases from the National Institute of Health, explaining that hantavirus doesn't seem to be communicable from one human to another, and stating that only six people have so far been sickened?  It's all part of the government's disinformation plan.  Tell them that the sulfur spill in April was just an accident, and was cleaned up quickly, and had nothing to do with the outbreak?  Riiiight.  Sure it was an accident.  *wink, wink*  Explain that hantavirus was already present in deer mouse populations, and there would be no need for anyone to "spray the park with the virus," even if someone wanted to do so, which no one does?  Ha.  So you say.  You poor, deluded fool, you.

You get the feeling these people love it when bad things happen, so they can have more things to blame the government for.  They don't seem to have any sense that being that we live in the natural world, bad stuff sometimes just happens.  Storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods... and disease outbreaks.  No human agency is necessary for any of this stuff, much as they would like that to be the case.

And finally, don't these conspiracy theorists give you the impression that they think that the government is a lot more powerful, and efficient, than it actually is?  My own sense is that our elected officials look more like the Keystone Kops than they do like the Men in Black.  If they even knew how to create a catastrophe, I doubt they could successfully pull it off, much less keep it quiet.

But maybe that's the point.  The people who believe in conspiracy theories find it weirdly comforting that someone is in charge, even if that someone has evil intentions.  The idea that hantavirus has shown up in Yosemite because the Evil Government put it there is easier to live with, somehow, than the idea that bad stuff just happens sometimes, because life is a risky chaotic jumble, and there is no pattern, no Grand Reason That Things Happen.

Or maybe they're just batshit crazy.


  1. Facts are boring.

    Life is a Hollywood movie script that you write as you go. When it starts to drag, just spice it up a bit with an alien or an explosion or an Illuminati reference and the audience is re-engaged.

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    1. I had a comment, but i am exhausted with trying to wake up the mindless of individuals who are as clueless as any American that believes the US has an actual 2 party electoral system based on the "choice of the people" or that Ben Bernanke will actually fix the economy. Pointless. But whoever decides to poke fun at "conspiracy nuts" should do themselves a FAVOR and RESEARCH actual conspiracies THAT-HAVE-BEEN-PROVEN-TRUE.

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    3. I had a well thought out post about "conspiracy nuts," but I'm just too exhausted trying to "wake up the mindless (sic)of individuals who are as clueless as any American" to the fact that we do, in fact, have a two party system where we do, in fact, vote for a candidate from one party or the other. I also talked about how, just because the current two party system is not meeting the needs of the citizenry, does not mean that the two party system is a conspiracy. I also talked about how Ben Bernanke cannot fix the economy on his own and therefore there is no conspiracy that he will... but since I deleted it, you'll never get a chance to read about it. What a waste. I also discussed that BECAUSE there are CONSPIRACIES that have occurred in human history, THAT means we should LEND credence to ALL conspiracies, REGARDLESS of SOURCE.