Auteur : Agence Science Presse - Catherine Crépeau
For the past few days, a new conspiracy theory has been circulating on social media. This time it takes the form of a 26-minute excerpt from the future “documentary” Plandemic. It claims to reveal the secret objective behind COVID-19. Other journalists have already debunked the claims. The Rumour Detector took a step further, looking into the credibility of the leading protagonist, biologist Judy Mikovits. Any reader can follow the steps of our investigative approach and see what we found.
When researching a controversial documentary, it’s always a good idea to investigate the person hiding behind it. This tip also applies to any YouTube video. The central figure in Plandemic is Judy Mikovits. Wikipedia describes her as “a discredited American ex-research scientist who is known for her anti-vaccination activism, promotion of conspiracy theories, and scientific misconduct. She has made several false claims about vaccines, COVID-19, and chronic fatigue syndrome”.
Knowing this, the Rumour Detector then suggests looking up media reporting about Judy Mikovits. Enter her name in a search engine and you’ll find many articles. One was published by the Washington Post this week. Another article from the New York Times dates back to 2009.
In 2009, Judy Mikovits coauthored a research paper in Science. This paper linked chronic fatigue syndrome to a retrovirus present in mice. Less than two years later, the text was retracted. The authors’ hypothesis was discredited. At least ten laboratories, including theirs, proved there was no connection between the disease and the virus.
In the next few years, Judy Mikovits was fired by Whittemore Peterson Institute. She was also arrested for theft of documents and sued by her employer for “breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets”. The charges were dropped without a trial, According to Snopes, a fact-checker website, this was due to legal factors related to the family managing the Institute.
In the video, Judy Mikovits acknowledges her past legal problems. But she suggests her misfortunes resulted from a conspiracy to destroy her credibility. She specifically accuses Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, of sabotaging her work on retroviruses. Her claims against Dr. Fauci have been proven false.
The Rumour Detector also asked what Mikovits had published recently. She hasn’t published any studies since 2012, according to PubMed, a database of research published in the fields of biology and medicine.
Mikovits has been associated with anti-vaccination groups for several years. A novice can find this out by a quick search, even without knowing these details. She co-wrote her first book in 2014 with anti-vaccination activist Kent Heckenlively. Her second book, Plague of Corruption, has the same coauthor and claims that vaccines cause autism. This was also proven false. The book was banned from entering Australia in 2017. Next came the launch of the Plandemic preview.
In the past few weeks, Mikovits has also positioned herself as an anti-Fauci mouthpiece. She has pitched this line in interviews with conspiracy theory and extreme right websites like Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit. Readers can go to Wikipedia to learn more about their editorial line. Then they can evaluate the relevance of sharing certain comments.
All this information should raise some red flags about Judy Mikovits’ statements on the coronavirus. It’s wise to be suspicious. The Rumour Detector recommends that you go to a second or third source to corroborate the allegations in this video, or any video of this kind.
Removed from platforms?
The film’s content is so disputable that social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo, deleted it from their sites on Wednesday and Thursday. But before it was removed, a version of the video had been viewed nearly three million times in 48 hours on YouTube. It accumulated 1.8 million views on Facebook in the same period.
To investigate further
- Why It’s Important To Push Back On “Plandemic” and How To Do It, by medical journalist Tara Haelle
- How Covid-19 conspiracy theorists are exploiting YouTube culture (Technology Review, May 7)
- Three fact checks about assertions contained in the video:
- On the Décrypteurs website
- On the Big Think blog
- On the Respectful Insolence blog (including biographical details on Mikovits)