Proponents of medical conspiracy theories frequently exhort detractors to “do their research.”
By this, of course, they don’t mean earn a master’s in a related field, conduct original testing, give presentations to experts in the field, and submit findings for peer review. They mean spending two hours on Google or YouTube, watching videos that eschew the Scientific Method entirely, have been carefully filtered to include only items that agree with the pre-determined conclusion, and which dismiss all contrary evidence as more proof of the conspiracy.
Now, theorists have coopted another term and are mangling it to fit their agenda. They label “investigative journalists” those who tote video cameras into mostly empty hospital parking lots, and present this as evidence that COVID-19 is a total hoax or at least massively overblown.
There are a few reasons why the number of cars and trucks present is a poor vehicle, so to speak, for deducing the seriousness of a virus.
First, there are more than 5,000 hospitals in the United States, and about .1 percent of them have been hard hit by the coronavirus. If doing a story on the virus’ spread, it is logical that news media would focus on those hospitals and not those which only had one or two cases. Skeptic leader Benjamin Radford noted that stories which make the national news are seldom ones that are indicative of what the entire country is experiencing.
There are virus hotspots since the spread of COVID-19 varies widely by region and population center. It would be expected that some hospitals would be overwhelmed, some would have moderate impacts, and others be barely affected.
A second factor is that fewer people are going to the hospital because of reduced budgets and staffing. Radford wrote, “Most hospitals make half or more of their revenue from elective procedures, which have been put on hold.”
He continued, noting that this now sometimes includes even serious matters: “A survey of nine major hospitals showed the number of severe heart attacks being treated in U.S hospitals had dropped by nearly 40 percent since the novel coronavirus took hold in March. Patients are so afraid to enter hospitals that they are dying at home or waiting so long to seek care that they’re going to suffer massive damage to their hearts or brains.”
No visitors are allowed and fewer medical personnel and prospective patients are showing up at hospitals, hence less vehicles.
None of the “investigative journalists” brought up these points or asked questions of anyone, be they hospital employees or an outside medical expert. They have no journalism degree, experience, or training. They merely posted videos of themselves walking around a parking lot, drew unsubstantiated conclusions about what it meant, and hit ‘upload.’ If that’s journalism, my drive to Dollar Tree makes me a NASCAR champion.