Sask. Party candidate deletes Facebook posts connecting pandemics to sunspots
NDP candidate for Saskatoon Eastview calls posts 'reckless'
A Saskatchewan Party Candidate has removed a Facebook post that promoted an unproven theory that the source of pandemics on planet Earth are caused by the cycles of sunspots.
In two separate Facebook posts, Saskatoon Eastview Candidate Daryl Cooper promoted a theory, published in 2017 in the Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach, that solar flares burn up "pathogens and microscopic biological entities from space in our atmosphere, effectively shielding the Earth."
In the posts, one of them titled: "The Origin of COVID-19," Cooper summarizes that pandemics are triggered when a sunspot cycle lapses, or is in its cooling period, and as a result, "there is no heat to cook these little monsters allowing them to penetrate our atmosphere and get through to Earth. They bring either new viruses and/or mutate existing ones."
CBC Saskatoon reached out to Cooper requesting an interview about the post, but a response was not received. The Saskatchewan Party however, issued a statement on Cooper's behalf.
"In May, I wrote a Facebook post sharing alternative theories on pandemics. Clearly this theory is not supported by science and is not credible. I have now deleted this post," he said in the statement.
Matt Love, the NDP Candidate for Saskatoon Eastview, said the post was frustrating.
"Saskatchewan families have been sacrificing everyday to help fight this crisis and they have sacrificed a lot," Love said in a statement. "It is disturbing that this candidate has been spreading conspiracy theories that undermine the hard, science-based work our public health authorities are doing.
"His actions are reckless. Saskatchewan needs a government that takes this pandemic and our recovery seriously."
At a campaign event in Moose Jaw, Premier Scott Moe was asked about the post. He said he'll continue to get his advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shahab Saqib, but did not express any concern about the fact the post was made by a Sask. Party candidate.
"He has acknowledged that this is a theory, that it's not scientific or credible. I would agree with that. I have not seen the post myself, but I would agree, given the information I have, that it is not scientific or credible."
Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor from the University of Ottawa said while the theory has been around for a while, there's just not enough evidence to back it up as fact.
"I'm a scientist," he said. "I'm open to all ideas honestly and genuinely, but with extraordinary claims, come extraordinary needs for extraordinary evidence and right now, it's just an extraordinary claim, with not a lot of evidence behind it."
When asked about the fact Cooper acknowledged the post was not accurate and deleted it, Deonandan said he feels this was the right call.
"I think that's great," he said. "I think we should reward people who reassess their ideas based on new evidence. I don't think we should punish people for changing their minds when faced with new evidence, I think that should be celebrated."
Saskatchewan voters go to the polls on Oct. 26 to decide which party will be elected as the province's next government.