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Bizarre virus conspiracy theory involving $10 note

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A small but determined cohort of Australians who believe the coronavirus is a hoax say they’ve found “proof” of a global conspiracy hidden in our $10 note.The general belief among “COVID-19 truthers” is that the pandemic is an orchestrated effort to force vaccinations on the general population.Local groups on social media have fanned a range…

A small but determined cohort of Australians who believe the coronavirus is a hoax say they’ve found “proof” of a global conspiracy hidden in our $10 note.

The general belief among “COVID-19 truthers” is that the pandemic is an orchestrated effort to force vaccinations on the general population.

Local groups on social media have fanned a range of conspiracy theories, resulting in small but vocal protests in Sydney and Melbourne in recent weeks.

Supporters point to a widely shared but thoroughly debunked video, Plandemic, which claims “a secret society of billionaires around the world are plotting global domination, and they plan to control people through a vaccine”.

The movement supporting this idea has also incorporated a range of other conspiracy theories, including that 5G mobile antennas are dangerous and somehow spreading coronavirus.

Now, some Australian supporters claim the proof of an organised conspiracy is hidden in plain sight on the $10 note.

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A post on a popular local anti-coronavirus Facebook group includes a photo of a design on the note with the caption: “The new $10 Australian note complete with coronavirus symbols. You can’t make this up! #areyouawakeyet.”

The claim seems to be that the gold reflective illustration on the top right corner is actually an image of the COVID-19 virus when viewed with a microscope.

“Tilt the banknote to see a rolling colour effect, which is visible on both sides of the banknote,” the Reserve Bank says of the design feature.

“The feature appears on each denomination of the Next Generation Banknotes series, with a different type of wattle depicted in the design on each banknote. In this instance, the design framing the feature is a designer’s interpretation of Bramble Wattle.”

Katie Attwell from the University of Western Australia said the current climate of confusion and uncertainty was fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

“The general public is uncertain, afraid and experiencing cognitive impairment from the strain of it all,” Ms Attwell wrote for The Conversation.

“Governments overseas, most notably the US government, have failed dismally in responding efficiently to COVID-19. This has the potential to devastate citizens’ trust.

“In this volatile cocktail, the distinction between what is ‘bats**t crazy’ and what is worryingly plausible starts to break down.”

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A range of seemingly implausible ideas are doing the rounds on Facebook, including the plot by Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to incorporate a mind-controlling microchip in the eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

Controversial celebrity chef Pete Evans, recently dumped by Channel 7, is one anti-vaccination figure who has shared conspiracies about coronavirus, including one relating to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

An image Evans posted on his Instagram profile plotted the apparent links between the charity and various pharmaceutical companies.

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“Many of those who reject vaccines, or strenuously object to COVID-19 health measures, are influenced by interconnected social groups with clear identities,” Ms Attwell said.

“Standing atop a hill of self-ascribed expertise, they can gaze down on the ‘sheeple’ eating from the trough.

“Groups that set themselves apart from mainstream society, deliberately and with pride, develop strong in-group identification and take cues from people they perceive to be like them.

“That may be why Australia is now seeing freedom-focused anti-lockdown protests you wouldn’t generally expect outside America.”

Another anti-coronavirus rally has been organised in Sydney for the end of the month.

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