“Friends Of Science” explains why it promoted a conspiracy theory that links Bill Gates and the “Deep State” to the Coronavirus epidemic
A Calgary-based climate science denial group that counts some powerful names in Alberta politics and the oil industry as friends, admits it made a mistake when it spread a conspiracy blaming Bill Gates for creating the Coronavirus epidemic.
Friends of Science, a group that has made headlines for erecting billboards claiming global warming is caused by sunshine and once sponsored a conference headlined by Rex Murphy, has been active for more than a decade.
But this week, the group deviated from its usual focus on climate change to focus some attention on more pressing matters — like exposing the secret connections between Bill Gates, the “Deep State” and the Coronavirus epidemic.
During a flurry of Twitter activity this weekend, the climate science denial group retweeted a tweet claiming the virus was created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and released on the people of China by the “Deep State” — all in an effort to undermine US President Donald Trump.
The link boosted by Friends of Science is sourced from a conspiracy website called “USAHitman.com,” which has previously spread hoaxes about the 2013 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, published stories about chemtrails, and has also reportedly recycled content from Russian propaganda websites.
Conspiracies connecting the Microsoft founder to the Coronavirus epidemic have gained traction in far-right corners of the Internet, such as among the Q Anon and anti-vaccine communities.
The hoax can be traced back to a far-right Q-Anon YouTuber who claimed the “fad disease” was planned, pointing to a patent owned by a medical lab that receives funding from the Gates Foundation — although that patent is for a different disease and is aimed at creating a vaccine to prevent respiratory illnesses in birds.
In a statement to PressProgress, Friends of Science said a “volunteer” clicked the “retweet button” by accident when they simply wished to read the article.
“In speaking with the volunteer they meant to hit the link to see the story, but hit the retweet button instead,” Friends of Science explained.
Friends of Science did not explain why several other tweets about the coronavirus appear on their Twitter feed, but they did supply PressProgress with several links showing “Bill Gates has been warning about pandemics for some time” and accusing “many people in the climate movement” of wanting the “depopulation” of Earth.
The group singled out primatologist Jane Goodall as one person who wants to see “fewer people” living on our planet.
“Retweeting that conspiracy item was in error, the interest in the topic is not,” Friends of Science clarified.
Despite its newfound interest in Bill Gates and the Coronavirus, Friends of Science is sometimes spotted with big names in Alberta politics.
Friends of Science was a presenter at the recent “Freedom Talk” in Red Deer, a conference about Alberta separatism that counted UCP MLAs Drew Barnes, Garth Roswell and Red Tape Reduction Minister Grant Hunter as attendees.
The talk Friends of Science gave focused on its allegations that foreign influence is targeting Alberta’s oil companies.
The anti-climate change science group has also previously guest posted on a blog run by John Weissenberger, who served as the campaign chair of Jason Kenney’s UCP leadership team.
The group has also spoken in glowing terms about Alberta’s Premier.
“Regarding Jason Kenney,” Friends of Science previously tweeted, “he is a person who is willing to challenge the groupthink on climate and energy policies.”
The group launched in 2004 to oppose the Kyoto Accord. Money to the group was funneled through University of Calgary research accounts overseen by Political Science Professor and right-wing commentator Barry Cooper.
In April, the group plans to hold its 17th annual “climate science event,” this year titled “Freedom of speech! NO Climate Emergency!” at the University of Calgary’s “Red and White Club.”
Join us April 6th for the: Friends of Science 17th Annual Event
“Freedom of Speech! NO Climate Emergency!
Ticket deadline: March 27, 2020.
Use link: https://t.co/czXhmtAWgL
— Friends of Science (@FriendsOScience) January 27, 2020
“This event is not affiliated with nor endorsed by the University of Calgary,” the Friends of Science’s event page carefully notes.