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Avoiding Apocalypse Click-Bait about COVID-19

Avoiding Apocalypse Click-Bait about COVID-19

When reading about the Wuhan Coronavirus, be wary of deep fake videos, Chinese propaganda, and manipulated graphics.

One of the biggest challenges I face in covering the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is sorting through the flow of apocalypse click-bait to determine the real news and the actual toll the disease is taking on China and the world.

I thought I might share three of the most recent examples so that you can be better aware of what the hysteria-oriented swirl of information and avoid getting sucked into its vortex.

One of my favorite tools that I use to discount these inanities is the “reality fact check.” For example, when I saw images of fire-engines spraying out detergent, I asked by biosafety-expert-colleague for her opinion.

She and I both concluded that it was a propaganda display to show the masses that the Chinese Communist Party was in control of the situation. As a disinfection effort, it was likely useless. As a promotional effort, it was a complete failure.

Another useful tool is to “ask the expert.” I used this technique to answer a question posed by one of my favorite actors, James Woods, who recently returned to Twitter.

Not many Americans are fluent in Chinese. My step-daughter is fluent in Mandarin, as she has a degree in the Chinese language and a Master’s Degree in Oriental Studies. I asked her about the dialog and what the video was showing.

It seems the video is a compilation of many other clips. This is beginning portion is not from Wuhan, and was filmed months ago in Sichuan. The Chinese authorities were taking in an escaped convict. In the second part of the video, the background sound is from fireworks, not gunshots. The video was likely taken on or around the New Year.

Portions of the video could be victims in Hubei, the province that includes the city of Wuhan. However, the total video has been slapped together to make the viewer think the Chinese are killing people not cooperating with quarantine orders.

Finally, and perhaps the best tool to have when sorting through social media is extreme caution. I am very wary of images that are not from a recognized authority on a subject matter and detached from a robust explanation of what the displayed graphics mean.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was highly skeptical that this image was showing sulfur dioxide levels from burning corpses:

It turns out that the image was not a satellite reading of actual levels. The bright spot is projected sulfur dioxide levels from a model; that model was taking into account the burning of sulfur-rich fossil fuels.

The data on is not based on satellite images, as claimed by the Sun tabloid newspaper in its headline.

Instead, they are based upon forecasts based on NASA’s GEOS-5 model, which, according to the US agency itself, often give significantly higher results than observations.

The models are not updated to take into account episodes like the coronavirus. They’re based on “emissions inventories”, for example, the probability of pollution levels based on known sources of emissions.

They take into account the usual sources of emissions of an area: factories, power and heating plants, and cross-references them with meteorological variables.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a publication showing sulfur dioxide levels in the Wuhan area have been falling from 2005 to 2016.

A new study by researchers from the University of Maryland and NASA indicates that China has greatly reduced its emissions of sulfur dioxide, while India’s emissions have risen dramatically. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is an air pollutant that leads to acid rain, haze, and many health-related problems. It is primarily produced today through the burning of coal to generate electricity.

I hope my evaluation of these examples of apocalypse click-bait has been helpful. It would be beneficial if the Chinese would be honest about the outbreak’s extent and impact. However, as that isn’t going to happen, be wary of deep fake videos, Chinese propaganda, and manipulating graphics.

The U.S. currently is monitoring over 400 people who may have been affected. Of those cases, only 15 have the virus, while over 347 have tested negative. American medical professionals will continue to monitor the infected patients, and we will have some reliable data on the transmissibility and diseases course ourselves.


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Thanks! That’s helpful.

UnCivilServant | February 24, 2020 at 5:28 pm

The lack of trustworthy sources make me take everything said about the issue with a mountain of salt. That said, I also find a lot of the content amusing for the degree of absurdity, and sad that it’s not far off of beleivable.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 24, 2020 at 5:41 pm

My goodness, who’s running Communist China?
The Democrats?????

It would also help if WHO got it’s messaging straight. And I would still like to know what is behind the State Department’s over-ruling of CDC on returning infected Americans on the same airplane as non-infected.

You would think there were established protocols and a chain of command by now. I think the “it’s complicated” explanation is another way of saying “we’re not telling” or put another way, it’s political and they are under orders to obfuscate and deflect.

    BTW, in his latest statement, WHO’s chief kowtowed to China by sticking to its original bat soup explanation for how the coronavirus started. They would never admit that the source virus was stolen by Chinese scientists(later deported) from a WHO lab in Winnipeg Canada and then leaked from another WHO lab in Wuhan. Like we need another reason to leave the UN.

I don’t look at videos. But the official reaction from the Chinese government that they’ve acknowledged seem a bit extreme for something no more dangerous than flu. Which is more dangerous than most people are really aware of.

Then there’s stories like this, which seem to be going around more. Rid Dreher, the writer, does say take the story for what it’s worth, but there are more and more stories coming out.

    It sure looks like outside of China, the coronavirus is proving to be just another mild virus. I keep reading unsubstantiated reports that it is just now taking off in the US so it looks like another possible tactic to stretch this farce out a few more weeks. The bark is so much worse than the bite with this latest global virus…. as usual. Time to dismantle WHO (at least). These annual global virus scams are not going to achieve their dream of global government.

What was the video that James Wood asked about? There’s nothing at the linked tweet.

Today’s stock market plunge is being attributed to the corona virus. But I can’t help wondering whether it was really caused by the Bernie virus. If either widely infects the US, the economic consequences could be severe.

If only journalists asked such questions.

Stuff like this pressure tests how “first world” the first world really is. It’s like whether or not you maintained your fire extinguisher when there’s an actual fire.

New Orleans was pressure tested with Katrina… and failed bigly. Let’s hope that’s not the case with the CDC and it’s peers around the globe.

JusticeDelivered | February 24, 2020 at 6:11 pm

I spent some time chasing that sulfur dioxide thing, and could not verify it. Thanks for the update, one more question answered.

Excellent post! Media thrive on clicks, views and ‘engagement’, so hype gossip and scandal are their way to $$. There is a real issue with this bug, there’s also a thick blanket of hype and cynical disinfo.

It is possible that both the official story and clickbait like the above cited ‘air full of burning bodies!!’ story are wrong. It does seem like C-19 is here to stay and will eventually circle the world. Perhaps it can be slowed enough so that its impact will fizzle in a landscape of well prepared health systems and some behavior change. What happens next is uncertain.

“When reading about the Wuhan Coronavirus, be wary of deep fake videos, Chinese propaganda, and manipulated graphics.”

What about the New York Times and the Washington Post… I can depend on them, right? Right? Hello… right?

I found the Fire Truck Video Spraying Video very insightful on China. With China, I feel like a Kreminoligist, where I need to watch what they do, their actions, verses the words. By showing that image, China’s Press, which is very controlled, is saying a lot.

Taiwan TV is having a lot of coverage, my Taiwanese wife and her Father watch it. Lots of talking heads. Taiwan’s VP was in charge of their SARS Response, and Taiwan is being very aggressive in their actions. Good news is it seems to be working.

In So CA, that Costa Mesa SNAFU worries me. Seems to have come from the State. has been covering it.

The lack of SARS Test Kits, reliability issues with them, worry me. A WSJ Article pointed out a few days ago Hawaii had no kits!

Questions I want better data on from China:

– What is the real death rate?

– Who is being infected?

– How fast does it spread?

– Who is dying? Is it only the old, or ?

– What is the real infection rate?

China is lying. The question is how much are they lying.

My SWAG On the Impact on the US.

Some economic impact in the US

I think a lot of people in the US are ignoring it, because of previous times the CDC has Cried Wolf. Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, etc.

I don’t expect much of a direct economic impact for 3 months in the US, and that should end in 12 months as hopefully a vaccine enters production. Or if we are really lucky, hot weather will reduce the spread of the virus. So far the US seems to have escaped a Pandemic, but other countries are not doing as well.

Companies that source a lot from China are going to get hit, as well as tourism related.

Areas of the US that are import related, such as ports, resellers of stuff from China, warehouses, are going to take an economic hit. China is basically on lock down for imports and exports.

Interest rates are probably going to go lower in the US, as actions are taken to keep the economy afloat.

For businesses that rely on guest workers (agriculture), my guess is this will take an economic hit.

Lots of medicines are sourced in China, so that may effect the health care industries, until new sources are brought online.

Other countries I have not idea. The spike in cases in Italy, Iran, and South Korea is worrisome. And CoronaVirus could spreads to countries with poor sanitation. And even in the US with populations with poor sanitation – homeless.

Longer Term this is going to give a lot of political momentum to Trump on immigration and building the wall.

“The U.S. currently is monitoring over 400 people who may have been affected. Of those cases, only 15 have the virus … .”

Johns Hopkins reports 53 cases of COVID-19 in the US with no deaths and 5 recoveries:

I am to the point that the zombie apocalypse would be actually happening and I would think it was a load of crap.

This scary pandemic “we are all gonna die” crap rears it’s head about every 5 years, and it’s getting tired and boring. A while ago it was SARS, then it was Swine Flu H1N1, then MERS, then Ebola, and now Corona Virus. It’s ridiculous and predictable.

Speaking of Ebola, people were freaking out about folks that came back to the US with Ebola. It was going to kill us all. Some lady got on a plane and flew to Chicago possibly exposing 200 plus people. We we all going to die in piles of our own vomit and feces. And then…..we didn’t. It turned out that with an IV stuck in you to keep you hydrated while health care workers donned the proper PPE, Ebola was a nothing burger to western medicine.

Corona virus is serious, and maybe it’s the zombie apocalypse upon us. But it’s the government that cried wolf in my mind.

The real “Click-Bait” is in the liberal media and the Bureaucrats in the Deep State. Remember that you are in charge of your own health. If you eat unhealthy food, take drugs, and compromise your immune system by doing bad things, then the “Karma” is really bad. You need to be responsible.

The problem with WHO, is they are beholden to the Chinese, their #2 funder, and their leader got his job due to China.

The leader of the WHO is a corrupt political hack from Ethiopia, first non MD head, that got his position due to Chinese and African support. Translation – he is following the Chinese Propaganda Line.

From the NY Times:

And a lot of News organizations, and Internet Giants, are following the Chinese Line. They are afraid of offending China. So they are routing out fake news, and following the WHO Guidelines. Zerohedge got banned from Twitter for suggesting the origin of the CoronaVirus was a lab.

The Wall Street Journal just had three journalists expelled, due to a good article, wrong title, from Walter Mead Russell, China is the Real Sick Man of Asia. The expelling was not about the article which is supposedly Racist and derogatory, but about sending a message to Western Reporters, of be careful what you report.

Lots of coverage does not include a link to the article:

I found the article insightful, Walter Russell Mead is usually pretty good, but his Taiwan position I disagree with (another WSJ editorial).

Ask your own doctor about it. They’ll tell you the death rate is not much different than any flu, and that American care makes death unlikely from the Coroniavirus than any flu would.

More Americans die of complications from drinking Corona than will die of the Coronavirus.