“Disease, please” (Germ Theory denial)

Why did people get all worked up over 9/11? Americans had a 99.99999 percent survival rate that day. And some of those killed were obese, diabetic, or had high blood pressure, and so were on limited time anyway.


While this take would be rightly reviled if a speaker seriously suggested it, there is little difference between this position and those of the anti-vax, pro-COVID crowd. Arguing that terrorism victims deserved their fate would be an incredibly offensive position, but so too is the notion that COVID-related deaths are meaningless since such patients represent a small minority or they had a medical condition.

This stance also dismisses the science behind vaccines and masks, and overlooks that the unvaccinated are 29 times more likely than the vaccinated to be hospitalized for the coronavirus.


Among this group, there is an even more extreme subset which holds that the COVID and other viruses don’t exist, and therefore cannot be transmitted, cause disease or be fatal. In this alternate reality, illnesses are the result of lifestyle choices and environmental factors. These Germ Theory deniers are more dangerous than their flat Earth brethren, who are merely wrong and impossibly stubborn. Those who deny Germ Theory harm not only themselves, but others as well by not taking preventive measures like hand-washing, vaccination, and anti-biotic treatments.


Germ Theory came from the brilliant mind of Louis Pasteur, though there were competing hypothesis at the time from his contemporaries, Claude Bernard and Antoine Béchamp.


The former proposed the concept of milieu intérieur. In an online piece, journalist Beth Mole wrote this idea suggested that disturbances to the body’s internal equilibrium caused disease and pathogens were a nonfactor. Meanwhile, Béchamp proposed a similar idea, thinking the body manifested pathogens in response to an internal change.

Subsequent scientific findings by the likes of Robert Koch and Joseph Lister validated Pasteur’s idea that invading organisms led to disease. However, the postulations by Bernard and Béchamp still find favor in the conspiracy theory and alt-med crowds. While still on the fringe, Germ Theory deniers have experienced an uptick in their numbers during the COVID-19 era.

They believe that bacteria is a symptom of a disease, not a cause. They also assert that viruses are incapable of passing from person to person. They, just barely, believe in disease, but feel that a condition called toxemia is its lone manifestation. And this, the deniers say, is the fault of the afflicted for having made poor nutritional and lifestyle choices. In their universe, disease symptoms are merely a ravaged body’s attempt to detoxify itself.

Their solution is to overload on fruit and avoid just about anything else, to include meat, dairy, eggs, breads, pasta, soy, nuts, oils, potatoes, garlic, onions, cereals, salt, coffee, and drugs, be they recreational or medicinal. Vaccines, antibodies, and doctor visits are also verboten.

To a denier, the promotion of vaccines and medicine is part of a cover-up. This is another reminder that the defining point of most conspiracy theories is that any contrary evidence is part of the conspiracy. The SkepDoc, Harriett Hall, tells of a raw food enthusiast she encountered who declared that vaccines were unable to prevent disease and existed only to enrich pharmaceutical companies. Any statistics showing a decrease in disease when vaccines are administered were fabrications aimed to hide the truth.

Hall also related that she knew a chiropractor who felt disease was caused by spine misalignment. He refused immunizations and felt keeping his spine in check made him immune from all disease and sickness.

Many such theorists subscribe to a litany of alt-med practices that supposedly relieve the body of toxins. Which toxins are being removed and the method by which this happens are unexplained. They also commit a correlation-causation error by arguing that those who see the doctors the most often are the sickest. This is usually true, but only because people by and large go to the doctor when they are sick. They don’t go when healthy, only to be made ill by the appointment.

Meanwhile, it’s a matter of reasoned debate as to whether the deniers’ stupidity is the cause or a symptom of their condition.


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