Conspiracy theories! The bread and butter for any tourist trap along the interstate. From the humble local legend, conspiracy theories have grown from merely supporting locations said to harbour the odd, and mysterious, to defining nations, America being one of the most well known. From the elusive bigfoot, to the well guarded Area 51, conspiracy theories have come to define America, but most of the time, not for the better. With the presidential election drawing to a close, we have all heard the conspiracy theories from both sides of the political spectrum, spreading rumours about what the opposing political party will do next and how we can stop them. These daming stories such as the democratic rumors that trump would hold vote announcement in swing states to win the election in his favour, to the republican claim of fraudulent vote counting, these rumors only serve to divide the country, and bring us no closer to knowing the truth and reaching a bipartisan consensus on political and social issues.
While most conspiracy theories are harmless-such as those simple tourist traps mentioned in the previous paragraph-it is important that note that conspiracy theories that center more around the day-to-day-like the political theories mentioned towards the end of the previous paragraph-are severely detrimental to the country, leaving us, the rational human being, to identify and falsify these claim. As Robyn Kamira writes for the spinoff: “In its basic form, a conspiracy theory is simply a theory about a conspiracy – that is, where two or more people work secretly to make something happen.” As Mrs Kamira gopes on to explain, these theories are usually easily confused with actual news, as many people see these theories on their trusted news source, flace evidence mixed in with real evidence, debunked evidence being replaced to ensure that the theory is alive. “These conspiracy theories cause sustained fear and hopelessness, potentially leading to serious mental health effects.” Kamira says. “They reduce our trust in experts, institutions, authorities, the government, even when they’re not linked to any allegations. They influence our thinking, popularise their beliefs, and radicalise people towards certain objectives.” So how do we identify these falcites? In realy it is actually quite simple! As Mrs. Kamira explains, it is not our goal to discredit, but rather see if they are worth our time. Determining the validity of a conspiracy can be usually achieved by three things: Developing a healthy skepticism, seeking evidence from other sources to validate the claims and finally look for wide-ranging consistency. For those who are more keen in looking into a conspiracy theory you can also fact check by doing things such as google the hoax with the word “hoax” or “fake” to see if there are some who have already disproved the theory. You can also reference the expert of the theory to see how qualified he is to speak on the subject. Usually those who are qualified can be found on several sites, not just the one, and if he is located on only the site that contains the conspiracy theory, it is usually a signifier that the theory is false.
So, we know how to convince ourselves that something is false, so how do we convince others? The harsh truth we must face is that we alone cannot stop these harmful conspiracy theories; as like the theories themselves, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the support of many. As Jessica Stillman writes for inc.com: “There are demographic and psychological factors that make it more likely people will believe in them, such as Being less educated, A desire to feel special, Feelings of powerlessness, and of course A need for certainty” With these demographics in mind, it is easy for us to plan an attack against the conspiracy theorists, using the common traits of the said theorist to our advantage. In a study done by Kellogg School management professor Cynthia Wan, she discovered that when you combat the aforementioned thoughts of insignificance and mental inferiority, those who are usually the source of wild speculation will stop their accusations and focus on a more rational response that would be generally acceptable to society. “As tempting as it can feel to non-believers, mocking conspiracy theorists usually just makes them dig in their heels. That simple step [of addressing their shortcomings], reduces feelings of powerlessness and reinforces the link between cause and effect, moving the needle towards rationality.”(inc.com).
Conspiracy theories, in general, are cool. I mean who doesn't want to believe that our government is pulling a man in black on us? The issue is, that when we create conspiracy within a system of governance and social norms, the very pillars of candor and logic on which these institutions stand are attacked, creating a dangerous situation for all that are involved and affected. As I have said, time and time again: There is always the possibility of a BETTER tomorrow. What can you do to make it a reality?
Absolutely loved this article!