Fact Check

Did Elon Musk Warn that 'Woke Mind Virus' Is Destroying Civilization?

The purported quote from Musk was featured in paid advertising on YouTube.

Published Jan 29, 2023

Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Jan. 24, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Jan. 24, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Claim:
Elon Musk warned that a "woke mind virus" was destroying civilization.

In January 2023, a YouTube ad from the far-right website The Epoch Times read, "Musk Warns About 'Woke Mind Virus' Entertainment Triggering Civilizational Suicide."

It's true that Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who completed his purchase of the company in October 2022, has tweeted the words "woke mind virus" many times in the past, including issuing his own opinion-based warnings that it could "destroy civilization."

RELATED: Did Elon Musk Say 'Wokeness Gives People a Shield to be Mean and Cruel, Armored in False Virtue'?

The term "woke" could be described in a number of different ways. For this story, however, we'll simply rely on two definitions provided by Merriam-Webster.

The first definition is laid out as, "aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)."

Meanwhile, the second definition may seem a little bit more relevant for this article in regard to Musk's thoughts about the subject, which reads, "politically liberal (as in matters of racial and social justice) especially in a way that is considered unreasonable or extreme."

The first mention of the words "woke mind virus" that we could find in Musk's feed showed up in December 2021.

He then tweeted in April 2022 that a "woke mind virus" was supposedly why streaming giant Netflix was facing financial woes.

On May 18, 2022, Musk tweeted that he believed Yale University was "the epicenter of the woke mind virus attempting to destroy civilization."

On the next day, he tweeted, "Unless it is stopped, the woke mind virus will destroy civilization and humanity will never reached [sic] Mars."

The specific tweet that was referenced by The Epoch Times was posted on Nov. 25, 2022.

On that day, Musk asked, "What do you think of the culture war?"

A user named @getpaidwrite got the attention of the new Twitter owner with their reply.

In response, Musk tweeted, "I am neither conventionally right nor left, but I agree with your point. The woke mind virus has thoroughly penetrated entertainment and is pushing civilization towards suicide. There needs to be a counter-narrative."

He then followed up that tweet with a reply that read, "That the mind virus is pushing humanity towards extinction is not hyperbole."

In December 2022, Musk tweeted the "woke mind virus" phrase several more times.

One of those tweets read, "The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters."

He also responded to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on the subject of the scientific journal The American Naturalist, saying that the "woke mind virus" was to blame for the publishing of a purportedly controversial article.

In sum, yes, Musk tweeted many times about a "woke mind virus" and indicated his belief that it was "attempting to destroy civilization" and "pushing civilization towards suicide." He added that his message was "not hyperbole."

Sources

Athrappully, Naveen. "Musk Warns About 'Woke Mind Virus' Entertainment Triggering Civilizational Suicide." The Epoch Times, 25 Nov. 2022, https://www.theepochtimes.com/musk-warns-about-woke-mind-virus-entertainment-triggering-civilizational-suicide_4885548.html.

"Definition of WOKE." Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke.

@elonmusk. Twitter, https://twitter.com/elonmusk.

"Richard Dawkins | Biography, Books, The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene, & Facts." Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Dawkins.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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