Conspiracy theories have been around for a long time, and there have been a few theories that have become quite sensational, including the one that said the moon landing was fake or the biggest conspiracy theory of all: Area 51 is filled with aliens.
For everyone who loves some juicy conspiracy theories, TIME has compiled some of the most well-known ones.
The Dangers of Conspiracy Theories
But while some theories are quite interesting, theories nowadays tend to be filled with misinformation that could be dangerous, especially in today's coronavirus-pandemic-ridden world.
Conspiracy theories like 5G towers causing coronavirus or vaccines causing autism in children could be dangerous, especially as believers have been endangering themselves and others.
For example, anti-vaxxers or those who are against vaccines don't allow their young children to get vaccinated, which endangers them and puts them at risk of getting infected with diseases that would otherwise be treated and avoided.
In addition, UK citizens who believe the theory that 5G is causing COVID-19 burned down several 5G towers and have been threatening employees of service providers.
How to Spot a Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracy theories could cause widespread disinformation, which would then lead to dangerous situations that can be avoided, so is there any way people can spot conspiracy theories?
To help people remember these signs, remember the mnemonic CONSPIR.
- Contradictory ideas: Conspiracy theories often have contradicting ideas absorbed into it. Even if one of the ideas might be true, the other is always false.
- Overriding suspicion: People who believe any conspiracy theory will often discount official sources out of hand no matter what their content might be.
- Nefarious intent: The people behind these conspiracy theories never have benign or boring motivation as to why they made and spread the theory.
- "Something must be wrong": Believers feel that "something must be wrong," which is why they would continue believing the theory despite pieces of it being disproved with facts.
- Persecuted victim: People who are held up as heroes also tend to be framed as the victims. If the supposed whistleblower turns out to be a fraud, that's just because the conspiracy is trying to discredit them.
- Immune to evidence: Any evidence that contradicts the theory's information will be seen as a lie and that people in power are only trying to discredit the theory, thus making them believe that the theory is true.
- Reinterpreting randomness: Happenings and events that have nothing to do with the substance of the theory will be interpreted and connected to it as if they are somehow related.
These signs can help guide anyone to spot conspiracy theories, especially with ones connected to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 cases threatening the world's safety and health.
It won't be easy to spot them, but once you actually begin looking for them, you'll likely see them popping around on the internet and social media platforms.