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The Self-Reinforcing Worldview of The Conspiracy Advocate

Bill Gates is being portrayed as a scheming villain in quite a few social media posts I’m seeing lately. His sin? His organization actually did anticipate a coronavirus outbreak beforehand, warned about it, planned for it, and attempted to get people to take it seriously before it was here. To the ignorant that is evidence that somehow must have created it. But really it is simple phenomenology. If you look at how the world works, where viruses come from, where they have been coming from (three times in the last 20 years) and how the spread unfolds you could have predicted every aspect of the last three months save for this one piece: when exactly it would occur. And those who specialize in that area did exactly that.

What Gates did was look at how the world works and make a very obvious prediction, one that pretty much anyone who studied the topic also made. Back when I taught history I covered the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. I can remember back in 2009 when N1H1 was circulating telling my students that there were far more virulent strains of influenza that circulate from time to time, for example the 1918 variant, which had recently been gene sequenced. The researchers did not release the details, only the summary, that the virus was indeed a regular flu virus (flu viruses mutate quickly, which is why we keep getting it over and over again).

Let us suppose that Bill Gates genuinely wants to do good. His biggest problem is that he is a thoroughgoing materialist, working in a materialist system, and collaborating with materialists. His secondary problem relates to the amplifying and distorting power of his wealth. Those two factors alone are sufficient to explain the damage his efforts unleash, in addition to whatever good. It is not necessary to posit that he actively wishes to work evil. In fact it is far scarier to realize that Bill Gates is an example of just how hard it is to realize good intentions within the system we all live in.

If he had a bit more imagination Gates would perhaps be able to see beyond the systems in which he is embedded and realize the need for structural change as a precondition for improving global health. Or maybe he does see it but does not have the courage to take it on. Either way, he has chosen to narrowly focus on public health and disease eradication, placing into practice a certain utilitarian philosophy. In another essay I could explain how his lack of social understanding caused him to waste $100 million on education reform. Gates is certainly not above criticism. But the cartoon villain version that so many are pushing today is just silly.

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