Archive for November 16th, 2020

Service of Conspiracy Theories to Search for Answers or to Bamboozle

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Photo: newslit.org

Conspiracy theorists claim that the Covid-19 vaccine includes a chip. People fearing this will refuse vaccination that will impact the effectiveness of the life-saving precaution on the nation’s health.

Photo: healthline.com

This one was new to me–I first heard about it Saturday morning on NPR–so I looked it up. In USA Today Elizabeth Weise wrote in June “One of the wildest [conspiracy theories] is a false story about a purported evil plan by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to use mass coronavirus vaccinations to implant microchips in billions of people to track their movements.” Gates “denied he’s involved in any sort of microchipping conspiracy.”

Weise interviewed “Matthew Hornsey, a social psychologist at the University of Queensland in Australia who studies the processes that influence people to accept or reject scientific messages.” She reported: “Here, people have a single issue that they have rallied behind; they don’t trust vaccinations. Conspiracy theories are then selectively embraced to justify that feeling,” he said. “That’s why people are prepared to believe ideas that seem strange and ridiculous to the rest of us. They want to believe it, so they set a very low bar for evidence.”

Vaccines aren’t the only targets. According to Angelo Fichera and Saranac Hale Spencer at factcheck.org the president re-tweeted an accusation that Joe Biden was involved in a murder. “Trump also declined to condemn QAnon — the widespread conspiracy theory movement that baselessly suggests Trump is dismantling an elite child sex trafficking ring involving high-profile Democrats,” they wrote.

Photo: arstechnica.com

Beaten to death and disproved are other theories reiterated in Fichera and Spencer’s article such as: the birther theory that President Obama was born outside the U.S.; that he collaborated with ISIS; that Ted Cruz’s dad conspired to kill President Kennedy; the president’s tweet: “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building [World Trade Center] was coming down,” and on and on.

In The New York Times at the end of September Benedict Carey wrote: “Still, psychologists do not have a good handle on the types of people who are prone to buy into Big Lie theories, especially the horror-film versions.”

Carey reported “More than 1 in 3 Americans believe that the Chinese government engineered the coronavirus as a weapon, and another third are convinced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has exaggerated the threat of Covid-19 to undermine President Trump.”

Carey explained: “At its extremes, these theories include cannibals and satanic pedophiles, (courtesy of the so-called QAnon theory, circulating online); lizard-people, disguised as corporate leaders and celebrities (rooted in alien abduction stories and science fiction); and, in this year of the plague, evil scientists and governments, all conspiring to use Covid-19 for their own dark purposes.”

The most recent false theory millions believe is that the U.S. election was rigged in spite of President Elect Biden’s 306 electoral college number that matched what the incumbent generated in 2016. The day after the last inauguration millions of men and women protested the winner in the Women’s March. They mourned the outcome but didn’t question the election process.

Conspiracy theories have always existed but there seem to be more of late. Have you fallen for any? Do you think they are popular because people want easy answers or because bamboozlers use them to get their way, to stir the pot/exhibit power?

2017 Woman’s March. Photo: en.wikipedia.com

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