17 June 2011

Gates Vaccination Conspiracy Theories

I came across this first video as I was alarmed by the title "Bill Gates: How to Kill a Billion People and Not Get Caught." Naturally I gave it a view. In short, Gates is accused of using vaccinations, reproductive health and other health programs to justify reducing the global population. The evidence for the claim comes from his TED talk where he discusses reducing carbon emissions.

In the talk Gates says, "The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."

What surprised me is not the logical rabbit hole that is followed, but the fact that it was not isolated to a single video.

Unfortunately the people in the videos did not look a bit further on the TED website to see Hans Rosling show how the increase in life expectancy correlates with a fall in fertility rates. I am not sure what exact data that Gates uses for his claim of a 15% decrease in population, but the data does show that fertility rates will decline with improved health programs.

This is definitely going to be preaching to the choir, but I wanted to use this post to highlight how easy it is to turn a phrase and adapt it to what we want it to mean. I am just as guilty of that as others from time to time, so it highlights the importance of being as precise as possible with how information is communicated. I am sure that Gates did not think much of the statement when he prepared his TED remarks and it was seized upon so easily by 9/11 truthers and someone who thinks there will be a new world order. It is an extreme example, but one which I believe can teach some important lessons.

Also, it is Friday and it would not be complete without a little conspiracy theory mixed into the middle of the day.