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Welcome to the Monday edition of Internet Insider, where we unspool threads of online misinformation—one dumb conspiracy at a time…
ONE DUMB CONSPIRACY
Trump’s former national security adviser says there is a plot to spike salad dressing with the COVID vaccine
Michael Flynn, the former advisor to President Donald Trump turned QAnon guru, claimed last week that salad dressing will soon contain the COVID-19 vaccine.
During an interview on a conspiratorial internet show, Flynn, who worked as Trump’s national security advisor, alleged that the “Deep State” was plotting to forcibly vaccinate the public with contaminated condiments.
“Somebody sent me a thing this morning where they’re talking about putting the vaccine into salad dressing. Have you seen this?” Flynn asked. “I mean it’s—and I’m thinking to myself, this is the Bizarro World, right? This is definitely the Bizarro World.”
The claim quickly spread across social media among conspiracy theorists, who were convinced that their Ranch dressing would soon contain the COVID shot.
For the record, nobody is planning to spike salad dressing with the COVID vaccine. Flynn’s allegation, however, is a perfect example of how conspiracy theories work given that the claim began with a kernel of truth.
In this case, a legitimate story regarding vaccines and food was misunderstood and misinterpreted by Flynn and his fellow QAnon cohorts.
The column continues below.
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The basis for the incorrect claim comes from recent news reporting about research being done at the University of California-Riverside on messenger RNA (mRNA), currently used in several COVID vaccines.
Specifically, researchers are attempting to see if edible plants, mainly spinach and lettuce, can be grown with mRNA that will replicate inside.
“Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person,” associate professor Juan Pablo said in a press release.
Yet the research is in its early stages and is far from being proven as viable.
The concept isn’t new either. Discussions on the subject have been in the news for decades, so don’t expect any vaccinated potatoes on your plate anytime soon.
Supporters of Flynn attempted to defend him by claiming that he actually got the story correct, although he misinterpreted nearly every aspect.
“Flynn is trending on Twitter and being attacked mercilessly by the blue checks because he brought up mRNA technology added to salad in an interview,” a Facebook user wrote. “The fake news is going crazy, as if there was no basis for what Flynn said.”
Flynn’s comments are a case study on how conspiracy theories begin and propagate online.
A totally innocuous study turned into evidence of a Deep State plot involving the forced vaccination of millions through tainted blue cheese dressing.
—By Mikael Thalen, staff writer
*First Published: Sep 27, 2021, 10:04 am CDT
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.