Ever wish you could predict the future? Bill Gates can.
“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes. Now, part of the reason for this is that we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic,” the Microsoft co-founder said at a TED talk in Vancouver in 2015.
Gates, the second richest person in the world with more than $113 billion in assets, has also put his money where his mouth is through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Established at the turn of the century and endowed with close to US$50 billion in assets, it has created financial incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to develop vaccines and therapies to address cholera, typhoid, malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, and other diseases that continue to kill millions in the developing world.
More recently, the Gates Foundation announced a US$250 million donation for COVID-19 research and relief — ten times more than Gates’ protege Mark Zuckerberg pledged, yet only a quarter of the billion-dollar pledge made by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Nonetheless, Gates, who has donated more than $50 billion since 1994 and on paper plans to give away another $100 billion before he passes, is not only the most generous person in the world but the most generous person who ever lived.
But in recent months, Gates, 64, has also become one of the most hated people in the world. According to conspiracy theorists, he is an Emperor Palpatine-like character who has masterfully convinced us of his benevolence, while secretly plotting to implant microchips in people through COVID-19 vaccines in a plot for global surveillance and population control.
Since resurfacing on YouTube, Gate’s TED talk has been seen more than 64 million times and has been used by anti-vaxxers to argue Gates had foreknowledge of COVID-19, and that he cooked up the virus in his lab. Theories linking Gates to the pandemic were mentioned 1.2 million times on television and social media between February and April, making misinformation about the tech baron-cum-philanthropist the most widely spread COVID-19 falsehood, according to media intelligence company Zignal Labs. The second most popular conspiracy theory blames the pandemic on 5G wireless technology and towers.
Investigations by reputable fact-checkers like The Poynter Institute, First Draft, and the American Broadcasting Company that have shown time and time again no evidence exists to back the microchipping theory have not blunted the resolve of the anti-Gates camp. In the U.S., 44 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats believe Gates is out to get them, according to a survey by Yahoo News.
“Sometimes conspiracies are true. They are not conspiracy theories They are conspiracy facts,” tweeted Michelle Malkin, a political commentator with 2.2 million followers who’s been denounced by Jewish groups because of her support of Holocaust denialists. “There was a poll this week, I can’t remember how many people…what the number was…but it shows [an] increasing number of people have stood up and said I will not take the Gates Vaccine. I will not bow down to jackbooted globalists,” Malkin wrote.
The Bill Gates conspiracy movement introduces some very interesting questions: Why are so many people, many of them educated and worldly, so willing to believe a man committed to ending poverty and saving lives is the devil incarnate? What does Gates himself make of all this? And is there anything fundamentally wrong with a billionaire subsiding the healthcare that governments have failed to provide?
Not only is Gates the world’s most generous man, but he’s also the smartest, according to Inside Bill’s Brain, a hit new Netflix docuseries. Gates is capable of reading “150 pages per hour” with “90 percent retention” and has a mind like a “CPU,” the series claims, citing his “encyclopedic assessment” of mosquitoes and how these insects transmit disease.