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Flatearthers

I thought, in mid-2020, that with all this pandemic anti-vaxing groups on social networks would finally end, a subculture that disturbs me in a way that I cannot explain in words. Perhaps what disturbs me the most is that I agree with the concept of not introducing foreign or potentially harmful materials into my body. I understand them in that respect, but I do not understand how educated and intelligent people believe that health care personnel would want to hurt them in some way. The use of these substances, such as heavy metals and formaldehyde, have a clearly established role and I defend immunization without doubts.

However, with the announcements of the vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19, conspiracy narratives against them have been triggered based on speculations and narratives that seem to come out of some science fiction plot.

To talk about this topic, which is very sensitive for many, I think I'd have to talk about another one first to make myself understood, take a deep breath and swallow well before returning to the anti-vaxers. At first it will seem that I am losing my sanity, but I ask you to tolerate me for a few minutes of your lives. Let's talk about the Flatearthers.

The principle is as follows: The Earth is not a sphere, but a disk, the center of which is the Arctic and its perimeter the Antarctic, so that the northern "hemisphere" is really what is closest to the center of the disc and the south what is more towards the periphery. The disk is covered by an invisible dome and the Sun, Moon, stars and celestial bodies are suspended at more or less that level. Because it is not a sphere, all the images from different space agencies are montages, including the moon landings, as part of a conspiracy to hide the public from reality.

Some of the problems with this reasoning stem from a distrust of the authorities, who have certainly lied to us in the past and are lying to us about some issues right this very moment, and that those of us who work in science fully trust the work of others without verifying ourselves the veracity of all data that they provided us. Flatearthers consider that their model of our world is correct and that the "proponents" of the spherical Earth are wrong. However, although they doubt all the evidence presented by their adversaries, they make no effort to gather their own body of evidence.

Having talked about that topic, let's get back to the anti-vaxers. The new conspiracy narrative is that governments have colluded with secret organizations that want to control us in every aspect of our lives, implanting chips in our bodies using the pandemic and vaccination campaigns as an excuse. "They" want to sterilize us, track us down, and control our minds, even cause terrible illnesses in children, and that there is no such thing as this virus. In fact, all those infectious diseases that we find in the books are a thing of the past, they were eradicated and we really do not need immunization against any of them. Health care professionals are part of this collusion, either as material co-authors or involuntarily.

No evidence is provided for these claims, but a narrative that is neither hypothesis nor theory because they are not subject to the scientific method that requires testing. The most common vehicle is misinformation and using fear as a tool to convince us of their unproven claims. This same model, the one used by Flaterthers and the anti-vaxers is shared by numerous other groups that have found their space in social networks: the defenders of Q-anon, the proponents of the Hollow Earth, etc...

In times of anxiety and uncertainty, it is easy to get involved in these kinds of forums and it becomes a form of entertainment in its own way, because to support one claim requires another and another, none with proof. The detractors of these movements simply do not get involved in the discussion, leaving their members to reinforce their own ideas, creating an echo chamber. However, what sounds more logical? An unusual event of a highly communicable infection for which we need vaccination to return to our respective lives or a huge, long and complex conspiracy to make us slaves?

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