Debunking covid-19

Grenfell prof investigates Covid-19 conspiracy theories

A Grenfell professor has co-authored a new book exploring the development of pandemic conspiracy theories.

“Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas,” co-authored by Grenfell Campus folklorist John Bodner, was released just prior to the holiday season.

Dr. John Bodner

Dr. Bodner is one of six authors who “examine the most popular COVID-19 theories,” according to the publisher, McFarland & Company, Inc.: In a recent presentation about his research, Dr. Bodner explained some of the basics about “conspiracy theories.”

For instance, one frank definition for “conspiracy” was termed by Knight (2003): “when a small group of powerful people combine together in secret to plan and carry out an illegal or improper, particularly one that alters the course of events.”

“There are a lot of different ways to understand the different types of conspiracy theories,” said Dr. Bodner., pointing to alternate explanations of an isolated event (the moon landing hoax), vast conspiratorial systems (QAnon) and super-conspiracies (the New World Order).

Another way of understanding conspiracies, he said, is “who’s the enemy?” In other words, who is “them?”

“Conspiracy theories often talk about “them” or “they,” said Dr. Bodner. “Sometimes they identify who it is, sometimes they don’t.

Of course the term “conspiracy theory” is a derogatory one, and he points out that theorists will refer to themselves as “researchers” or “truthers” who are sharing knowledge that they consider to be nonfiction.

Cover image

The work featured in “Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories” examines how theories, stories and conspiracy beliefs emerged as Covid-19 spread around the globe.

According to the publisher’s synopsis, “these theories infected communities from the halls of Congress to Facebook groups, spreading quickly in newspapers, on various social media and between friends. They spurred debate about the origins, treatment options and responses to the virus, creating distrust towards public health workers and suspicion of vaccines. This book examines the most popular Covid-19 theories, connecting current conspiracy beliefs to long-standing fears and urban legends. By examining the vehicles and mechanisms of Covid-19 conspiracy, readers can better understand how theories spread and how to respond to misinformation.” Chapters include:
Chapter 1: Conspiracy 101: A Primer
Chapter 2: The “Wuhan Virus”: A Cautionary Tale of Origin Conspiracy Theories
Chapter 3: Recycling White Power Rumors after the Black Death
Chapter 4: “But My Cousin Said”: COVID-19 and Black Communities
Chapter 5: Harmful Additives: Anti-vaccination Conspiracy Theories Before and During the Time of COVID-19

Listening to the ocean

Grenfell visual arts professor to exhibit at The Rooms

It all began when nine blue whales died in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence in 2014, washing up on the shores of Trout River, Bonne Bay, Gros Morne National Park.

Prof. Marc Losier of Grenfell’s visual arts program, whose practice specializes in photography, film, installation, and sound, has immortalized the whales in a series of works, titled Narratives of Loss, using a variety of photographic techniques to represent the story of the whales. His work How Deep is the Ocean? (Narratives of Loss), will be exhibited at The Rooms in St. John’s from Jan. 23 to April 18. His work is featured in the 2019 Research and Graduate Studies Report: Powered by Grenfell.

Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), 2018 Marc Losier photo.

Prof. Losier’s research about whales “has led to new interests around bio-acoustics and underwater recording, both in relation in to marine mammals, but also commercial ocean traffic noise.”

In late 2019, Prof Losier travelled to Barcelona to attend the World Marine Mammals Conference, where he was able to meet with scientists from all over the globe and learn about the ways they study and follow particular species, both photographically, as well as acoustically.

“I also met with an amazing team from Nova Scotia – Ocean Sonics – which has been developing specialized hydrophones for recording and broadcasting underwater sound,” he said.

This technology was instrumental in the development of the acoustic artwork being presented at The Rooms as part of, Hello Land: Art, War, and the Wireless Imagination, curated by Darryn Doull, former curator of Canadian Art at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, and Melony Ward.

“My work for the exhibition is titled, How Deep is the Ocean? and will involve the live broadcast of underwater sound from Bonne Bay, Gros Morne,” he said, adding the work is in conjunction with a suite of interviews with community members, scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum, and museum technicians involved in the collection of the blue whales from the area in 2014. Richard Kelly, Project Engineer with the Marine Institute, is helping Prof. Losier to engineer the installation of the hydrophone in Bonne Bay. In addition to the underwater broadcast, the interviews will be played at The Rooms as well.

“The exhibition is going to generate an oral history archive of the environmental disaster from 2014 that will be broadcast in Gros Morne National Park on FM radio in late summer 2021,” said Prof. Losier.

He recently installed a photographic mural, Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), at Trout River, bringing the whale “home” again. Read more at CBC here.

One of the images from this project was commissioned by Creative Gros Morne and installed at Trout River as a public artwork: Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), 2018; photographic mural, vinyl print mounted on dibond; 82 in. (2.08m) x 288 in. (7.31m). Marc Losier photo.