People, we are far too deep into this global pandemic to still be spreading COVID-19 misinformation, thumbing our noses at scientific consensus and pretending the opinions of the Team “Do Your Own Research” are equal to that of medical experts who actually know things.
Laila Ali, the retired world champion boxer and daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, may have been an expert at throwing hands in the ring, but she’s currently being beaten up across Twitter over a social media post in which she smugly demonstrated that there are things she is no expert in, such as medical science regarding how highly contagious viruses work.
“People don’t seem to understand that just [because] some folks don’t wear masks, don’t want the shot, don’t listen to media or live in fear…it doesn’t mean they don’t ‘believe’ the virus is real or think they can’t get it!” Ali posted. “They know it was created to harm humanity.”
Listen: It’s a simple thing to point out that the CDC has spent the last year and a half debunking unsubstantiated claims that coronavirus was intentionally created to “harm humanity,” but when you’re a platitude-driven conspiracy theorist who doesn’t “listen to media” but rather treats far-fetched conjecture as fact, it’s not likely you’re going to be convinced of anything that contradicts your “truth.”
“They simply choose to build up and trust their own immune system like they have been doing all their life,” Ali’s loud and wrong post continued. “If they get it, they will deal with it!! It’s a God given choice. I know, this kind of faith is impossible for some to comprehend. But lean not on your own understanding.
“Before you claim they are ‘putting others in danger,’ you should do your own research to learn that’s actually true. You can’t change anyone but yourself, so YOU DO YOU!”
“Do your own research” is certainly sound advice in and of itself, but these days it’s often used as pseudointellectual speech for, “I have graduated from the prestigious University of YouTube, and if you don’t think my confirmation bias and Google fingers are as good as the word of immunologists, virologists and medical researchers who actually work in the field of disease control and prevention, then you’re obviously an elitist and a sheep.”
We should “lean not on our own understanding,” but instead lean on the understanding of people who think their “faith” and remedial-at-best knowledge of how immune systems operate trumps science and fact-based research.
Obviously, the fine folks on Twitter had a field day responding to Ali’s ill-advised post.
At the end of the day, Ali is a person who has money access to adequate medical care, and COVID-19 disproportionately affects low-income people, people who suffer from chronic illnesses and those who have less access to quality care—and Black people are overwhelmingly represented in all those categories.
Also, nobody wants to hear about your “faith” and “God-given choice” when the most vulnerable among us are still dying.
When people refuse the vaccine and ignore mask mandates and other measures and guidelines meant to slow COVID-19 infection, they’re not just making personal decisions; they’re making decisions that affect everyone.