Coronavirus conspiracies and stories fill the internet nowadays. We do need to be careful to not spread fake news. The latest is that the Coronavirus was well predicted in 1981. Is this true? We set out to examine this. It stems from people Tweeting out portions of the book that do seem alarming. Here is one such Tweet:
Snopes – also set out to fact check this story. They rated it “mostly false.” We have to admit when Right Wire Report first saw the Tweet we were skeptical at first too. The story stems from a novel written by Dean Koontz called, “The Eyes of Darkness.” If you want to see the full text in PDF form (search for the word “Wuhan-400”) – click here. It also speaks volumes to how Snopes fact check claims.
First off, is the “jpg” image real? When looking at the text in PDF form and even from Snopes on words the answer is – yes. Snopes says, “This is a genuine page from the novel The Eyes of Darkness.” As well, It’s true that Koontz named a fictional biological weapon “Wuhan-400” in this novel. It’s also true that Wuhan, China, is the city at the center of the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak. So the novel got correctly the, what, where and when.
Snopes however, notes discrepancies (with our commentary):
- In Koontz’s novel, “Wuhan-400” is a human-made weapon. The Coronavirus, on the other hand, was not. Snopes’s own rating on this is “mixture.” So this is a poor discrepancy, as this will need more clarifications.
- The fictional “Wuhan-400” has an extremely quick incubation period of about four hours, compared to COVID-19 which has an incubation period between two and 14 days. Our take is that from the novel writer’s predictions, this is a fairly small difference.
- In the novel, “Wuhan-400” has a 100% fatality rate. While researchers are still learning about the coronavirus, the current fatality rate sits at about 2%. Yes, this is a significant discrepancy. But again it is a novel predicting events decades in advance. Certain aspects of the disease being wrong do not make a rating of “mostly false.”
The original disease name in the novel was “Gorki-400” and in 2008 was changed to “Wuhan-400.” Snopes was not entirely sure when or why this change occurred. Perhaps the publisher knew in 2008 of bio labs that existed in China and made the name change in the novel to make it seem more real.
Snopes says the “prediction” was nothing more than a coincidence. But could you not say that about all predictions? One would have to look at the track record of the author’s predictions to know that. Something that Snopes did not provide. There have been many novels and movies about pandemics. The significance of one account being similar does not necessarily add to the current understanding of the Coronavirus situation.
The main takeaway of this article is, don’t just read the headline rating of fact-checkers. Fact-checkers often spin their ratings toward an agenda, though specific data points may be correct. We see this all the time as well when these supposed fact-checkers, fact check our President Donald Trump. Claiming that Trump has lied when in fact they take things out of context or find a small pointless inaccuracy to make the entire claim untrue. This is yet another example of how they do this.
Our take is that the Snopes rating should have been at worst “mixture,” though not necessarily a useful prediction that one could act upon. The rating on Snopes as a fact-checker at best is “mixture” as well. Read with discernment.