Social media is entertaining, fun and sometimes informative, but if you go to Facebook to get your facts, you risk being gravely misinformed. All too often what amounts to little more than urban legends and conspiracy theories are shared on social media disguised as ‘news’. This type of claptrap can have serious consequences for society. Yes, what people believe really does matter.
The buzz word of the moment is Zika and, in case you live on another planet and have not heard of it, is a disease carried by an infected Aedes mosquito – the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. These horrible creatures have proliferated in my area, and although there has only been one case of chinkungunya in my area, they made my life a misery last year, biting day and night and making it impossible to sit outside and enjoy my garden.
Zika virus usually causes mild illness; with symptoms appearing a few days after a person is bitten and most people with Zika will get a slight fever and rash while others will experience conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and feel tired. The symptoms usually finish in two to seven days.
If you are a man or a woman who is not pregnant or of childbearing age, this disease is just annoying, however, the Emergency Committee at WHO says that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. And all the experts agree that there is an urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.
Logically, when I wanted to learn about the Zika virus I went to official sources and, luckily I did not pay any attention to an article that a Facebook friend shared fromnaturalnews.com. By the way, my friend also thought that the world was going to end when the Mayan calendar came to an end and that an alien invasion is just over the horizon.
Anyway, a staff writer on this site shared his dodgy research into what he sayswe are not being told about the Zika virus. Briefly, he claims that media coverage of Zika is no more than a smokescreen to distract the public from the ‘real’ cause of the birth defects and brain damage, citing these as chemical toxicity, vaccine damage, pesticide exposure and drug interactions. He even thinks it is a bio-weapon and that “the public is taught to fear nature even more and stop reproducing”.
It is rather like the meme that researchers have already cured cancer but that this is being suppressed by big pharmaceutical companies who want to make money from patients’ suffering. But why would a company, after spending millions to cure cancer, cover it up? And who exactly is trying to cover it up? The research community is made up of universities, professional associations, scientific journals, regulatory bodies, researchers and individual medical professionals. Are they really all in on the wicked secret? Is the scientific and research community really made up of evil, morally redundant murderers who are really good at keeping a secret? I think not.
Ah, and if you’re thinking of the legendary Rife Frequency Generator which is supposed to emit radio waves and shatter bacteria and cancer cells, the American Cancer Society points out that radio waves at the power level emitted by a Rife generator are unable to destroy bacteria. So that’s the end of that urban legend.
So, who should you believe? To help you to find out, the National Library of Medicine offers a 16-minute tutorial on Evaluating Internet Health Information. Perhaps that might be a good place to start. To do the tutorial visit