Fact Check: List Of Claims About Diseases And More Relies On Common Conspiracy Theories

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: List Of Claims About Diseases And More Relies On Common Conspiracy Theories Bunk Theories

Does a list of claims about diseases and more rely only on factual and proven statements? No, that's not true: Most of the claims are common conspiracy theories repeatedly disproven. Medical experts, for example, agree that the Spanish flu was caused by a virus, not radio waves. Similarly, generations of scientists have established polio is caused by a virus, not the insecticide commonly known as DDT. Ongoing studies of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, show it spreads like many other viruses, through several kinds of contact.

The list of claims appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published on February 14, 2021. It read:

AIDS was injected, not spread, DDT caused polio, Spanish flu was radio waves, the Titanic sunk to protect the Federal Reserve, Obama & Bush are cousins and 911 was WTF ... Dead serious. What in the hell is actually real and do the rabbit holes ever end?

Users on social media saw this:

The post's claims about certain diseases are easily disproven.

There's no doubt among medical experts that the Spanish flu was caused by a virus, not radio waves. Specifically, the pandemic was caused by an "H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Polio is also caused by a virus, not the insecticide commonly known as DDT. The Cleveland Clinic identifies the virus that causes polio as the aptly named poliovirus. And HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, can spread a number of different ways, including anal and vaginal sex. According to the CDC, you can also get HIV if you share needles, syringes or other drug injection equipment. There is little to no risk of getting HIV from being stuck with a contaminated needle or another sharp object at work.

Regarding the post's other claims, there's no publicly available evidence the Titanic sunk to protect the Federal Reserve. The passenger liner sank after it hit a large iceberg on April 14, 1912, killing some 1,500 people. The theory that the disaster had something to do with the Federal Reserve was debunked in 2018 by the History TV channel, as part of a larger story on conspiracy theories around the Titanic. Here's the relevant part of that story:

According to this theory, millionaire banker J.P. Morgan planned the Titanic disaster to kill off rival millionaires Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus and Benjamin Guggenheim, who all perished aboard.

The theory hinges on the fact that Morgan had originally planned to sail on the Titanic but changed his mind shortly before it took off. Yet it doesn't offer any explanation for how he caused the ship to hit an iceberg and kill over 1,500 people, let alone the three men he supposedly intended to die. To top it off, the theory claims Morgan wanted to kill them because they opposed the creation of the Federal Reserve, even though Astor and Guggenheim don't appear to have taken a position on it and Straus actually supported it.

It does appear that the post is correct about one claim: Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush are distant cousins. They both reportedly descended from Samuel Hinckley, who lived in Massachusetts in the 17th century, making the two politicians 11th cousins.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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