Ever since the story broke about the Ebola outbreak, I’ve had a nagging feeling that something doesn’t ring true. From the surge of conspiracy theories appearing in my Facebook feed of late, I get the feeling I am not alone.
This week I have been researching the roots of the virus, the organisations involved, and truth seeking whenever I get the chance.
Irritatingly for me, to be any good at this sort of thing, it either has to be your job or you have to be unemployed. It takes time to fact check – an essential procedure I’m not sure everyone is partaking in.
Had I simply followed and reported on the initial wiki links that sprang up from my search terms, I’d have one hell of a conspiracy theory for you folks now. Sadly, on verifying the facts that lead me all the way from West Africa to Maryland, via USAMRIID to ALEC (man, you yanks love an acronym), I discovered that the ratio of fact to truth on Wikipedia is on the low side, to put it nicely.
I’ve not given up on my conspiracy theory (although you unemployed full-time tin foil hat wearers will definitely beat me to it), and there are still some issues that need further exploration.
After all, you can’t deny that pharmaceutical companies would do very well out of an outbreak such as this, especially if last August you acquired a bio lab that’s been working on a drug which produces the required antibodies to prevent death from Ebola. Especially if that product was produced from established monocultures such as tobacco, and especially if the laboratory developing said drug was a subsidiary of American Reynolds (AKA American Tobacco).
Furthermore, in order to push through approval by the FDA, an incident requiring emergency use of an experimental drug would give you quite the advantage. The outbreak doesn’t even really have to happen, you just need to encourage hysterical coverage by the media and equally hysterical uptake by the anti-media.
Still, all that aside, something far more interesting came to my attention during my research into West African news stories in the last 24 months (and no, I’m not going to give you convenient links. I had to work for this information, and you can too. It’s good for you).
The media in West Africa don’t appear to be too concerned with the supposed outbreak. Journalists writing for the main newspapers in West African countries are far more concerned with the catastrophic financial implications created by hyperbolic Western media. They are predicting devastating knock-on effects to their already fragile economies, and rightfully they’re more than a little worried.
You see, the most poignant thing I’ve learned from all of my research wasn’t all of the links I found between the outbreak and American covert biological weapons research, nor was it the information I read about the ties between the cure makers and extremist far right lobbyists.
My initial research threw up tantalizing clues to a deep dark conspiracy almost too easily. As if the links had been placed in my path deliberately like a political dot-to-dot.
You know the saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’? Well this saying couldn’t be truer right now, especially if you’re a major player in big pharma.
The same can’t be said for the countries that make up West Africa who will be destroyed by this for years to come. They are the ones who will pay the price, as will we. One way or another.
If you really want to help, whether you are a professional journalist or a well-intentioned anti-establishment reporter, don’t fan the flames. You’re playing right into their hands. The worst epidemic to have come out of this century is fear, and it’s spreading like the plague.