MASKS AND VACCINES: A ‘de facto’ war on humanity?
Another conspiracy theory relating to the COVID-19 virus was added to the already more than 2,000 conspiracies since the outbreak in January 2020. In a series of videos, The Truth About Vaccines 2020, serious claims are made about the wearing of masks and “the blatant censorship of life-saving information and how big pharmaceutical companies have declared a ‘de facto’ war on humanity.”
The series of videos, produced by two devoted Christians, Ty and Charlene Bollinger, has since been widely distributed within the Christian community. It claims that studies show that masks cause more health problems than cures and are “just the first step in “compliance training” – a forerunner to the COVID vaccine. It also questions companies that are working 24/7 to manufacture vaccines in order to get a slice of that multi-billion-dollar “vaccine pie” at the cost of human lives.
Ty Bollinger, who operates TheTruthAboutCancer Web and Facebook page, makes a number of serious and dangerous claims in his set of videos. But Instead of evaluating every fact that Ty Bollinger makes, it will be of more value to establish some basic principles and then apply them to evaluate the videos. So, let’s evaluate the claims and the producers from a factual point of view.
- FACT CHECKING THE AUTHOR
Is he who he claims to be and is he speaking from his field of expertise?
On his website, Bollinger describes himself as follows:
Ty Bollinger is a happily married husband, the father of four wonderful children, a devoted Christian, best-selling author, medical researcher, talk radio host, health freedom advocate, former competitive bodybuilder, and also a certified public accountant. After losing several family members to cancer (including his mother and father), Ty refused to accept the notion that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery were the most effective treatments available for cancer patients. He began a quest to learn all he possibly could about alternative cancer treatments and the medical industry. Ty has now made it his life mission to share the most remarkable discovery he made on his quest: the vast majority of all diseases (including cancer) can be easily prevented and even cured without drugs or surgery. Ty speaks frequently to health groups, at seminars, expos, conferences, churches, and is a regular guest on multiple radio shows and writes for numerous magazines and websites. Speaking from personal experience and extensive research, Ty has touched the hearts and changed the lives of thousands of people around the world.
The ethos of Bollinger’s mission sounds noble and the fact that he promotes himself as a devout Christian adds credibility. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity. But this does not make him an expert in the field of chemotherapy, radiation, cancer, or even the science behind the practice of wearing masks. Even though Bollinger has no relevant or extended educational background, Bollinger would like you to believe that talking with offbeat practitioners and their patients, has made him smarter than all of the world’s medical and scientific experts put together. Just buy his reports—and buy into his conspiracy theories—and you can be just as smart.
Real experts, of course, give him low marks for credibility. Drs. Harriet Hall, William M. London, and David Gorski have dissected and debunked dozens of his cancer-related claims. NewsGuard, which rates news and information Web sites, has concluded that The Truth about Cancer site and Facebook pages repeatedly promote “unproven and potentially dangerous cancer treatments” and “egregiously false content about COVID-19.”
Bollinger should concern us because his advice about masks can kill people and a lot of people seem to pay attention to him. In March 2020, the Facebook page was reported to have more than 1.1 million followers. In addition to criticizing masks, he is spreading false information to discourage use of a COVID-19 vaccine when one is developed
- FACT CHECKING THE SOURCE
What is the nature of the sources he uses and are the sources known for its non-biased reporting?
In this regard, it might be worthwhile to turn to the experts. Dr Harriet Hall writes the following about the sources that Ty Bollinger use:
(Dr.Hall, MD, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so), and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services))
“The people Bollinger interviewed are not the world’s leading doctors, but infamous characters whose non-science-based views are notorious. I was only too familiar with many of the names: Matthias Rath, Mike “Health Ranger” Adams, Joseph Mercola, Jonathan Wright, Rashid Buttar, Russell Blaylock, Stanislaw Burzynski, and Tullio Simoncini. I will restrain myself and simply say these individuals are not reliable sources of health information. Others I was not familiar with, but they included “cancer conquerors” (patients with testimonials), journalists, chiropractors, naturopaths, integrative medicine practitioners, and operators of cancer clinics in Tijuana. He couldn’t have picked a more biased sample. He didn’t interview people like Siddhartha Mukherjee (the author of The Emperor of All Maladies), oncologists, or cancer researchers.
I have a rule, the SkepDoc’s Rule: before you believe a claim, make sure you understand who disagrees with it and why. Bollinger fails to do that. His mind is made up, and he is only willing to listen to people who agree with him. He asks questions like “Why would anyone prescribe poisons like chemotherapy?” but doesn’t consult the people who could answer and help him understand. He interviews patients who survived treatment with alternative medicine but doesn’t interview the families of patients who died.
He voices unsupported opinions and makes claims that can be easily refuted by a little research or even by common sense. Here are some of them:
- The only thing that doctors are taught in medical school is how to prescribe drugs.
- Professors are being paid by drug companies.
- The Flexner Report, which reformed medical education in America, was a plot by Rockefeller and Carnegie to create a medical monopoly and eliminate all competition so they could sell more drugs.
- “Anything coming from nature is excluded.”
- The medical profession is a lap dog of the pharmaceutical industry.
- Conventional medical has a monopoly on treatment: they make sure that insurance doesn’t cover CAM.
- The number one goal of health care is to make money.
- Saying they are making progress in any disease is only a propaganda war.
- Business thrives on the continuation of existing diseases.
- By 2020 more than half of cancers will be medically induced by drugs or radiation.
- Nobody dies from the cancer, they die from the consequences of the treatment.
- Surgery spills cancer cells, radiation enhances them.
- “It’s against the law in California for oncologists to recommend integrative.”
- He also claims that 97% of people who undergo chemo are dead in 5 years – which is an absolute lie
Cancer survivor testimonials
Bollinger interviews a number of cancer survivors who have used alternative treatments. He doesn’t understand that the plural of anecdote is not data. He only looks at a few who survived; he doesn’t tell us about the many, many people who have died because they trusted unconventional treatments over proven treatments that would have saved their lives
Dr.Hall concludes as follows:
“Bollinger’s approach is as unfair as a trial where the prosecution is given carte blanche and no defense is allowed. This is a very unfortunate series, filled with misinformation but produced slickly, effectively appealing to emotion, and likely to mislead scientifically-naïve viewers and probably even some scientists who ought to know better. I predict that Bollinger will have blood on his hands: people will suffer and die unnecessarily because they believed this was “the truth about cancer” and were persuaded to reject lifesaving treatment.”
- FACT CHECKING THE CONTENT
Is the author conveying facts in search of truth or is there an agenda?
RationalWiki describes Ty Bollinger as “an American conspiracy theorist, promoter of alternative cancer therapies, a critic of evidence-based medicine, an anti-vaccinationist, germ theory denialist and statin denialist. He operates the TheTruthAboutCancer website from the pre-position of promoting an agenda. If his 2013 “Monumental Myths” book is an accurate account of his views, then Ty Bollinger is a super-conspiracy-theorist.
These descriptions clearly indicate that Ty Bollinger has an agenda and aims to persuade his followers to embrace a specific agenda. There are no traces of professional journalism that presents facts and allow the readers to make up their own minds
But what is more concerning is the fact that truth is undermined and lies are presented in the name of Christianity
The claim that masks are causing more deaths than preventing it:
This claim is not only malicious but dangerous. It is like claiming that the safety belt of a car doesn’t work because people still die in accidents. The reality is that masks are not a guarantee against being infected but it significantly reduces the chances of being infected. Advising people not to wear face masks is extremely dangerous.
Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D. explains as follows why he believes the claims by Ty Bollinger should be ignored.
“The main way that COVID-19 infections spread from one person to another is through saliva droplets or aerosols expelled when an infected person breathes, talks, sings, coughs, or sneezes. Saliva droplets are heavier than air and will settle on the ground or nearby surfaces. Aerosols form when smaller droplets evaporate faster than they fall to the ground, leaving virus particles to float through the air.
Protection by masks depends on the type of mask and how it is worn. Respirator masks must meet U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health N95 classification of air filtration by catching at least 95% of airborne particles. When tightly fitted so that inhaled and exhaled air go through them, rather than around them, N95 masks provide considerable protection to both the wearer and others in the vicinity. Surgical masks, dust masks, and home-made masks provide much less filtering of inhaled air but can prevent wearers from touching their face with hands that may be contaminated. As observed in a recent experiment, they can also prevent or reduce transmission:
This picture, from the journal Science, sums up what cloth masks can do:
We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
Dr Barrett concludes as follows:
“Bollinger would like you to believe that wearing a cloth face mask is more likely to cause harm.
On May 29, 2020, Bollinger’s Truth about Cancer Web site published what he called “12 FACTS that we KNOW” about masks and said that wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus infection is like “installing a screen door in a submarine.” He also said that “forcing healthy people to wear masks is “at best misguided and at worst criminal, given the known data.”
Each of his alleged “FACTS” is followed by one or more links to reports or videoclips that supposedly back them up. Checking, however, I found that none of the linked materials actually validated what he said. In fact, most of the references he cites have nothing whatsoever to do with the use of cloth face masks.”
- FACT CHECKING THE TONE:
Is the tone of the author accusing, aggressive, alarmist or does it convey concern, care and anguish?
Ty Bolton, in his own words, is “angry’. Sadly, there is no trace of anguish for the thousands of people dying. This is not a plea to alleviate suffering. There is not a trace of empathy, you only hear accusations, anger and sense a victim mentality.
A major concern from an objective perspective is the amount of effort Bollinger places on marketing his production. His emails end with more than one appeal to “join the movement and support the mission “by owning the entire docu-series, share it with friends and family, and joining the “Truth Army” that will help them to change the world!
The set of “Platinum” videos are sold at the reduced price of $197.00 (from $499.00) – R3,200.00.
This alone should set alarm bells ringing. For every 300 copies sold, the producers make R1 million. With more than a million followers on Facebook, there is no doubt that this conspiracy theory has turned into a booming financial business. Accusing pharmacies of cashing in on the pandemic sounds hypocritical in the light of the millions that the producers are making from their own conspiracy theories.
- FACT CHECK SCRIPTURE
Ty and Charlene Bollinger proclaim to be dedicated Christians and it is therefore imperative that their views are aligned with their beliefs. If they do not align their concerns with a Christ consciousness then they are either abusing their Christianity to promote their agenda or they have a wrong understanding of what it means to embrace a Christ consciousness in a time of suspicion and fear. Either way, it does a tremendous amount of harm to those who effectively seek to be witnesses for Christ in this uncertain time.
There is nothing wrong with being skeptical about new developments in a time of uncertainty. The danger of COVOD-19 however, from a spiritual perspective, is that skeptics are turned into cynics. Cynicism is like poison in the community well and leads to the death of all who drink from it.
The past 5 months have separated believers into two distinctive camps. There are those who believe there is a clear and proven evil agenda behind the source, the numbers, and the people who fill our minds with daily updates and manipulated information. And there are those who believe the sources they trust and seek to be responsible citizens in the way they act, communicate and deal with the realities of a pandemic. Both camps have sincere believers who love the Lord with a deep passion for truth, justice, and righteousness. And yet their views are poles apart and irreconcilable. These vastly different responses raise some questions: Is the one a realist and the other an idealist? Is the one a pessimist and the other an optimist? Or, does the difference lie in the fact that one is a cynic and the other a skeptic?
A cynic always believes the worst in everything. A cynic is always distrustful, believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest and, therefore, suspicious of human sincerity or integrity. A skeptic on the other hand also has doubts but is not easily swayed in any direction, good or bad, until it is proven so.
Paul Maxwell, in an article on the website Desiring God, writes the following:
“Cynicism is so undetectable because it is so justifiable. It wears a mask of insight and godliness, but it conceals festering wounds of harboured bitterness against God and neighbour. The cynic places the highest premium on their own analysis of the world. Cynicism is Descartes’ principle of doubt in the hands of self-protective fear — transformed from ‘I think, therefore I am’ to ‘I think therefore you’re dumb’. It is an emotional rocket launcher mounted on a La-Z-Boy.”
So, don’t let good and skillfully productions manipulate you into a victim mentality. Remember, (2 Timothy 1:7) God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
- Huang S. COVID-19: Why we should all wear face masks—there is new scientific rationale. Medium.com Web site, March 26, 2020.
- Maragakis LL. Coronavirus: How to care for your face mask. Johns Hopkins Medicine Web site, May 1, 2020.
- Anfinrud P and others. Visualizing speech-generated oral fluid droplets with laser light screening. New England Journal of Medicine 382:2061-2013, 2020.
- He X and others. Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19. Nature Medicine 26:672-675, 2020.
- Recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings, Especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC announcement, April 3, 2020.
- Konda A and others. Aerosol filtration efficiency of common fabrics used in respiratory cloth mask. ACS Nano 14:6339-6347, 2020.
- Prather KA and others. Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Science, May 27, 2020.
- Bollinger T. “To Mask or NOT to mask?” . . . THAT is the question!The Truth about Cancer Web site, May 29, 2020.
- Spencer SH. Outdated Fauci video on face masks shared out of context. FactCheck.org, May 9, 2020.
- About Ty Bollinger. The Truth About Cancer home page, accessed June 2, 2020.
- Hall H. “The Truth About Cancer” series is untruthful about cancer.” Science-Based Medicinem Nov 17, 2015.
- London WM. Untruths about cancer in the failed “quest for cures.”Six-part series, James Randi Educational Foundation, Nov/Dec 2014.
- Gorski D. How can we combat misinformation from “chemo truthers”? Science-Based Medicine, January 27, 2020.
- com. NewsGuard. March 11, 2020. (Viewing this requires installing a free NewsGuard browser extenstion.)