Viewpoint: Conspiracy theories used to be the province of harmless ‘Bigfoot hunters’. Now they’re dangerous and deadly

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Credit: Telegraph/Getty Images
Credit: Telegraph/Getty Images

In 2021, conspiracy theories are no longer a source of amusement, nor are leading purveyors mere harmless weirdos. What was once AM-radio “Star Trek” is now state-sponsored disinformation and plagiarized anti-Semitism — [like QAnon conspiricy theorists who believe in] a global cabal of cosmopolitan elites conspiring to abuse children.

Dave Neiwert, a long-time investigative journalist and chronicler of the far-right, told Insider that the appeal of conspiracy theories is the key to not just understanding but combating the rise of conspiracism.

People, particularly those with authoritarian tendencies — on either the left or the right — desire simple explanations for complex phenomena that flatter their existing beliefs. And the darker the allegation, the more noble an “independent journalist” or Facebook user can feel in their crusade against mainstream notions of truth.

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The most popular genre of films is comic book characters engaged in binary combat: good versus evil. “I think we are seeing an America that’s increasingly educated to be heroes,” he said.

But most of us aren’t heroes.

Enter, then, the world of forbidden enlightenment; a select, online minority of people who get it — who can decode the seemingly banal and uncover the supposed evil within.

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