What fuels conspiracy thinking and how can we behave more rationally?

A live rant about “Plandemic,” those Bakersfield doctors, and the allure of conspiracy thinking.

Here’s a great guide by an investigative journalist on how to sort fact from fiction.

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Hey everybody, its Dr. Z. We’re live on all channels. Well, one channel, hopefully some channels. Welcome to the show, it’s a ZDoggMD show. It’s Friday, May 8 and I wanna talk about stuff and things. So come on in and leave your comments and anybody who supports the show, thank you and thanks for everyone who sends Stars and leaves comments and shares and does all that. Okay, that’s out of the way.

Why is it that human beings really love conspiracy theories, even though any ounce of critical thinking applied to the conspiracy at hand, would reveal it to be abject horseshit? And by the way, it’s gonna have a fair amount of cursing, so if that bothers you, fuck off. All right, so here’s the thing. I did a piece the other day on YouTube because about a billion people had sent me links to that video, Plandemic. It was a little clip of a larger documentary and when I say documentary, I put it in quotes because it’s a documentary in the sense that Vaxxed was a documentary or What the Health was a documentary, it’s got an agenda and it supports whatever this agenda is. In this case, within like a minute of watching the video, I realized, oh, this is crazy talk.

I knew it right away because I recognized that these were straight anti-vaxxers. Anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists together in a purported documentary that people believe. Now why do people believe it? That’s what I wanna talk about because the response to the rant I did, I did not wanna go through click by click by click and debunk that video because it had already been done by doctors all around and there have been great pieces on it, other videos on it going through everything these guys said that was just abjectly wrong, scientifically. And the fact that the main star of the thing, Judy Mikovits was basically a known anti-vax loony who is trying to prove that she doesn’t falsify data and she had her paper retracted just like Andrew Wakefield hangs out with people like Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the known anti-vax, clown.

So why do people believe this? Well, because they write on there, PhD scientist. They use scientific words and they present a conspiracy that to the human mind that wants certainty, wants answers, wants to feel like they know something other people don’t that they’re in the in crowd and others aren’t and that they’re in an exclusive group. It’s the same reason we root for the underdog or especially for a little marginalized ourselves, we feel like we know something other people don’t know, it gives us a little leg up that otherwise we don’t have.

So conspiracy theories like this are so attractive because the human mind craves certainty. One of the biggest shit shows in the history of recent history is the COVID-19 pandemic. Why? Because of uncertainty. So from minute one, it was clear that nobody knew what the fuck was going on. The WHO comes off as just ill informed and in China’s pocket. The CDC, it’s like, something out of Benny Hill like that juggling, saying one thing, doing another thing, suddenly silent. Our own political leadership is just like no, it’s not a big deal at all and then suddenly, 60,000 deaths later, maybe, I don’t know. Nobody knows what’s going on because you have a new virus in a complex system, which is the ecosystem of the planet Earth, doing something that we’ve never seen before. Live with that shit. Live with the fact that we don’t fucking know and understand this, that when physicians say or scientists say we just don’t know about this, they mean it, they don’t know and that’s okay because shit is complicated. It’s really, really complicated, especially in things like virology and complex human systems and epidemiology and population dynamics.

These are not simple topics. So what happens, early on you do something draconian, society shuts down. This has not happened in our memory, in living memory in the way that it has here. People are going out of business, people are suffering. People on the margins are undoubtedly dying because they’re not seeking medical care. People are losing their jobs and therefore their lives to suicide, which is a correlation we’ve seen historically. And so there in the setting of uncertainty, you add on a ton of fear. How do you fight that? Particularly and let’s remember, let’s do a quick paradigm here. There’s the elephant, which is the part of our brain that is unconscious, emotional, sort of often fear and threat detection driven and it’s very ancient. And then we have the new part of our brain, the frontal cortex, thinking, planning, strategizing, moral reasoning that just came in the last million years or so but it’s not in charge.

It’s actually a slave to this elephant if it’s not careful and so the elephant now is driven by all this fear. It has a political bias, whether you’re on the left and you think these top down draconian solutions are actually the answer, because we need to be more communitarian and try to protect everybody by keeping them inside and then you go on Twitter and you virtue signal with your mask and you write stay at home and your name and there’s a righteousness there. Or you’re on the right and on the right you’re like, wait, why is the economy shutting down and why are people telling me what to do? There’s individual liberty here and these guys don’t even have their act together.

So this and that and the other thing. Now this particular conspiracy and plandemic, typically anti-vax conspiracies are often conspiracies of either the left or the kind of libertarian right. This one is really pushed on the right because it’s basically saying, well, okay, now we need certainty, we need a way to explain how our elephant feels. So let’s pull a conspiracy down. Fauci is conspiring through vaccine patents to become rich and more powerful. The government is in on this, they’re silencing the heroic outlier, this woman, Judy Mikovits and I know this, why can’t everyone else see it? And when that video comes up and confirms their general political and emotional bias, and by the way, I’m saying this out of love. In the video, I basically said, people who believe this shit are stupid.

And you know what? Yes, stupid meaning intellectually, you are being a fucking moron if you believe any of that shit because and I’ll get to why that is because if you look at it critically, the whole story falls apart. The problem is good people who aren’t necessarily stupid will believe it because it fits that emotional resonance. That’s why conspiracy theories work. So here we have a theory that says the government is a shit show. Powerful people like Gates and others are conspiring to make money off an invented pandemic that’s really due to vaccinations which are an individual liberty issue that I’m being violated on, run by big corporations out of my control that are pulling all the strings. And that feels more certain. So now you go, I now I know what’s going on. It’s not that just that nature is a fucking bitch and we’ll just throw shit at you that’s chaos and every now and again when you think everything is perfect and the world is under control, she throws you a curveball because it is the nature of this universe that we are thrown curveballs all the time. Look at human history, check out somebody who grew up, say in, spanning 1918 their life was a shit show.

It’s because of science, progress, technology, society that we’ve actually stabilized it that people now are less violent, less likely to die of violence, more likely to be fed, more likely to live in stable societies than they ever have been, less likely to go to war but people ignore all that and the conspiracy comes in. But the truth is, it’s still chaos out there. So the certainty that oh, there’s someone to blame. Now, to get back to Plandemic for a second. Just understand this, when I see it, as somebody who’s been in the space for a long time, you have to understand my bias already. I’m actually with the anti-government people. I think government is a shit show. I’m with anti-corporate people. Corporations are shit shows. I also think individual humans are dumb as fuck. I actually think humans and human enterprises are barely risen out of the primordial ooze. That we are able to create science and art and beauty in any way is shocking, given how relatively primitive we are. We are a fucking mess.

So that means, it means a couple things. Yes, you question everything. Yes, you recognize when we don’t know what we don’t know, as opposed to Dunning Kruger where you know a little and then overestimate what you know and fuck up like the anti-vaxxers and these conspiracy ding dongs and those two guys from Bakersfield, which we’ll talk about as well. So, this all being said, now you have Plandemic where I watch it and go oh, this is a known anti-vaxxer spouting anti-vax sentiment, alarm flag number 212, she’s got a cure for autism. Alarm bell number 250, she’s saying vaccines caused all the deaths in Italy and then people are going but what about Fauci? What about what she said about Fauci? Now, listen to me for a second. There are plenty of people debunking this right. Now, by the way, my video on YouTube has 2.5 million views right now in 24 hours plus a little bit and 55% of the thumbs on that video are down and it’s all the people who believe, their elephant believes this conspiracy ’cause read the comments they’re just like, who didn’t debunk anything?

Yeah, link to all the debunking, they don’t care, because their emotional decision has already been made. They have certainty. They’re better than us, so they have moral superiority than these clowns who are sold off in big farmers pocket. Check out all the accusations on that page of me being sold out. Dude, go look on the sunshine act at the money I take from PhRMA. It was like five years ago I took some money because I did a talk for some reps teaching them about health 3.0 but that doesn’t matter. You can defend yourself all day, it doesn’t matter because they’ve already decided you don’t fit the paradigm. The intellect, the writer is completely short circuited. But since I’m looking at it going oh well, critically thinking, this is total horseshit. It’s horseshit on every level. This woman is a con artist. She’s selling a book but they’re talking about shills, like Fauci, like the fucker works for government.

So okay, on top of that, any degree of critical thinking goes out the window in conspiracy theories. So think about this. The government can’t fucking tie its shoelaces without someone leaking it. How in the living fuck is a government gonna keep this kind of secret conspiracy at the highest levels from the public. You don’t think someone’s gonna say some shit just to try to get attention. You’ve got nurses out in the wild right now, reporting on how they think patients are being abused in different hospitals like some government functionary, who is clocking it in is gonna leak that shit. Government is a shit show you guys just like any corporation. You think a corporation has the wherewithal to actually pull off a conspiracy. That assumes a level of competence that means you’ve never gotten out of the house. So I have a good example of this.

People think the CDC is running these big conspiracies. Now I have a friend who used to work at CDC and now works elsewhere in private industry. And he said, “I love my colleagues at CDC. “I think they’re wonderful, good people trying “to do the right thing. “I wouldn’t trust them to run a fucking conspiracy “to save my life.” It’s a shit show like any organization, any human organization, it’s a shit show. So immediately at just looking with threads of critical thinking at a conspiracy theory, it starts to unravel, but it doesn’t for the people who believe it because they have certainty, they have moral high ground and righteousness on their side and the critical thinking piece is not important. So when you look at Plandemic, watch it from that prism. Watch what they’re doing. The filmmaker who’s done films about like the Mayan apocalypse and other shit like that, has an agenda. The woman has an agenda and they will then pull little bits of things out of context to back this agenda and anybody who questions it, they’re just like, this poor person is a fucking shill or they just haven’t been woke. They haven’t woke up sheeple. Wake up sheeple.

And in some ways, it’s very sad because there’s an underlying current of disconnection and loneliness in the conspiracy crowd. So if you go and look at my video, it has all these negative comments and yet 2.5 million views? Why? Because for the positive crowd, they just watch it and they’re like, yeah, I knew that shit was bullshit. For people on the fence. They go, oh, I wonder what ZDogg thinks about this video. Oh, he just said it’s horseshit that’s enough for me because I’ve seen enough ZDogg’s critical thinking that he doesn’t need to debunk it point by point, he linked to that. Now, when people mail it to me, I can just send them his video or say no, that’s bullshit. But then there’s the conspiracy theorists and they’re just like wait wait wait what? And they have a need to actually comment, he’s a shill, he’s a fucking paid off, he’s ugly, his fans are idiots, who calls a doctor Zdogg.

Now see watch what happens, it’s all emotional response. Just like my video itself was an emotional response ’cause I’m so fucking tired of hearing the same conspiracy shit repackaged in different ways and having to be asked, people are like well, people are asking you to debunk it because they care what you think. I know I get that but you gotta understand it’s fatiguing, when every piece of stupid shit that comes out. Everyone’s like, I don’t know what to think about this and sends it to you and you’re like how about this, how about we teach you how to critically think, how to recognize your own emotional bias and then filter that and go, you know what, oh, okay, I think I know what I feel about this and then I’ll ask, hey, I think this about this, do you agree? Yeah, you’re right. You got it right or no, you know what, you missed something here which is this. That’s a back and forth I’d love to have. That’s not how it works though. It’s not how it works. I had a lot of really smart medical people, who bought that video, who thought it was accurate and we’re sending it to me like, hey, you gotta show people this and I’m like, you gotta show people better critical thinking. And so I was pissed when I made that video.

And I didn’t think anyone’s gonna watch it. I was just like, let me rant, let me vent for a second and then 2.5 million views. Anyways, let’s see where we’re at here. Thanks for corralling a few elephants, Mike Sullivan. Mike’s referring to that emotional elephant So the question is how do you actually fight back against this kind of now? Oh wait, hold on before we do that. These Bakersfield guys, alright. I watched, they did a follow up video to their original video where they kind of are like, well I don’t know why everyone’s so mad, we just showed our data, this and that. I gotta say this about those guys. I agree with them. The two Bakersfield docs. I agree that we’re doing more harm than then we’re helping now with this very aggressive lockdown, which was appropriate at first. But I’m telling you right now my position is, it’s time to carefully start opening up and watch carefully what happens and if we find things become a shit show, then you know what you can do, you can close back up strategically. But I suspect that the harm we’re doing right now is much greater than the good we’re doing and all the left’s and this is again a political divide.

All the left’s moralizing and they hate Trump and they want the economy to be bad. I mean, these are the theories right that the right has about the left. This idea that we only listen to the scientists and we don’t listen to the economists and the legal scholars and others who are saying, hey guys, this is becoming a fucking clown fest. Like we’ve never done anything like this, we have no good evidence that this is exactly the right course of action. We’re experimenting. Can we admit that? And then let’s let localities decide, how they wanna handle this and I always give the example of like them forcing us to wear masks on our trail system here in California now. Okay, maybe that reduces infections by a tiny percentage but what else does it reduce? It reduces the desire for people to go outside, many people because especially the elderly, they don’t wanna walk on a trail wearing a mask, it’s a restrictor. And it just starts to feel insane to people, which then is gonna lead to resistance to measures that are much more rational. So you have to choose your battles when you’re talking about these things. Can we talk about it rationally? Oh, just saying that will piss off the left so much that you will be canceled on Twitter. And then you have the right who is down playing this shit to a degree that is fucking idiotic. Like, oh no, it’s no worse than flu. Have you fucking been to New York City?

I’ve had people on my show who said anyone who thinks this is like flu is fucking smoking crack. We’ve never seen anything like this. Now, even if that’s true, which I think it is, I know it is. Does that mean that we take these actions that we’re taking in there correct? We can still debate that and have this thing be a deadly fucking new illness. We can have both those things be true. Can we hold that in our minds? Well, it’s very hard when we’re politically biased, or elephants are involved and again, it comes back to conspiracy. Now let’s tie this in to those Bakersfield Docs. What they were saying is here’s all my political beliefs about opening up, here my economic beliefs about opening up. Now here are my medical beliefs about opening up. Now the political beliefs that was clear, they think we’re being controlled by people like Fauci, they said as much in the original thing and it’s a way of controlling us by saying we’re keeping you safe. That’s a political belief. What’s interesting though and I wanna add to this. There is something that Jonathan Haidt and others have spoken about, which is called a culture of safetyism. Which is, we have this thing called concept creep. Well, okay, if we can keep people safe by doing this then we should do this. Well, then that creeps. Okay, if social distancing is good then maybe to keep people safe we should make them wear masks in public and since we don’t have enough masks, let’s make them wear cloth masks in public. And we haven’t really scienced this out whether people touch their face more or whether it’s actually helpful or whether this or that. Well, there’s theories that it works and the precautionary principle says go ahead and do it. But we haven’t really scienced it.

Now let’s mandate that they wear those masks on fucking open trail systems. Okay, now In addition to closed schools, closed businesses, let’s make them wear masks on open trail systems and let’s punish them if they don’t. Okay, that’s called concept creep and a culture of safetyism, where safety is the highest virtue, living your fucking life, having some degree of economic engine that works, continuing to have some degree of rational thought, there’s nothing there. So with the Bakersfield docs on that, my elephant, I’m being elephant here, agrees. However, when they talk about the medical stuff that’s when you realize, okay, that’s when your critical thinking engine has to come into play. You wanna believe the conspiracy there foisting, which is this has been overblown in a way to control you and so here’s our support of it. Here’s our data that shows why we’re right. And in my original video, I talked about why their data was horseshit and it was.

And their follow up actually proved it even further because they said, “Yeah, you know, people were like, “really mad at us ’cause, you know, “they were saying our data wasn’t valid “but it was totally valid man “because we were only testing, “we were testing a lot of healthy people.” You are in a fucking rural community, in an urgent care, it’s not even an emergency department, testing people, whether they’re worried well or whatever. They’re coming in or their employer is making them come in, that’s a biased test. Number next. They admitted in the follow up. So what kind of COVID have you seen, like, what have you seen? Well, if they’re really sick, we send them right to the ER, yeah, so people who don’t understand how urgent care works like the lay public if they’re fucking 02Sat is less than 92, do not pass go, go right to the ER from there. So the only patients these guys are seeing, are people who are well and potentially positive with COVID. So then they have the fucking audacity to extrapolate that to everybody and go we’re seeing people that are doing just fine. It’s basically seasonal flu. Why are we doing all this? Well, listen fuckstick it’s because you don’t go to the hospital. You don’t go to the hospital, Mr. Urgent care doc in the box to actually see the downstream effect of this. We had Scott Weingarten on the show, he can tell you the downstream effect of this. We had Barbara McLean on the show, she can tell you the downstream effect of this. It’s a serious illness. So shut your flap hole if you haven’t seen it.

Don’t try to convince us of your conspiracy bullshit, unless you have the right data and as a viewer of that shit, don’t share it with people unless you’ve critically analyzed it. Now, again, we may be asking too much of people but this is where my emotional elephant gets very upset because it’s not that hard to do and if you don’t have the tools to do it, you can acquire them, you can learn them or you can turn to somebody you trust, and say, hey, what does so and so think? And it doesn’t require a 20 minute video debunking. It just requires hey, this is bullshit. Here’s a couple reasons why, you can dig in here. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. God, I mean. So, when I did the Plandemic video, and again, I didn’t expect it to get so many views. It’s like one of our top videos of all time, it’s a little embarrassing ’cause we put a lot of effort into our videos. I didn’t expect it to have so much reach and going into conspiracy theories now I realized why. Like oh, this is it, I get it and it’s funny ’cause if you look at, there are other doctors now who’ve made videos, where they’re more methodically debunking each point in this woman’s video, which I will refuse to do again because others have done it but also because I don’t wanna even give her any more airtime of her stupid kooky ass views ’cause they’re just batshit crazy.

You don’t have to be batshit crazy to believe them and believe the conspiracy for all the reasons I’ve said, but she’s batshit crazy. So that being said, you look at the other videos that these guys have made, they have a bunch of views too and it’s the same ratio of negative to positive likes. So the conspiracy guys get together and they actually in a coordinated way, will leave these sort of comments because it’s a way again of when you’re feeling powerless and uncertain and you feel like you have this inside knowledge that’s how you’re gonna behave, especially online in these echo chambers where it’s magnified. So I hope that makes some sense to you guys. It’s tough and again to those Bakersfield docs. It’s funny because again, I sympathize so much with a lot of what they were saying in terms of economic impact. And, my position on this thing is that we’ve pushed too far on on the draconian measures and the side effects of the measures are gonna be greater than the disease by an order of magnitude. I’ve said that from the beginning, consistently, although with varying degrees of fervency because my own opinion shifts as I see data, as I listen to experts, as I process it and yours should to.

I think anyone again who comes out abjectly certain about something, you should question them. Like people ask me, are you certain Fauci isn’t in some kind of? This is a great question. Don’t you think, like Fauci could have funded this Wuhan lab that then accidentally released this virus? Like why do you deny that’s the case. And I say I’ve never denied that’s the case. I think it’s totally possible and conceivable that that could have happened. Does it change anything that we are going through right now? No. Do I have the tools or the resources or the information to analyze that claim critically in a way that’s gonna get me an answer?

No. There’s uncertainty in that and I accept the uncertainty. I also accept that the answer to that question is not going to change what we do now about COVID? Would it drop the credibility of Fauci? Well, maybe but people who think he’s not credible are gonna continue to think he’s not credible. So this is the way I kind of think through this stuff. I hope this makes sense. So this is what I’m gonna do. I am going to post a version of this on YouTube right after this. So that people on YouTube can watch it too. I want you to do me a favor. Leave your comments. Tell me what you think. Tell me if you think I’m an asshole. I know I’m an asshole, so you’ll just confirm my own bias. If you want to become a supporter of the show, that’s great if you don’t, no big deal. If you’ve sent us Stars, that’s great too. If you don’t, no big deal. If you’re on YouTube and you wanna subscribe, do it and click that little notification thing. I always say I’d never say that but it is important because otherwise you don’t get notified when we do a show. All right, guys. I love you. Stay woke. And we out, peace.