The anti-Semitic propaganda in the Second World War used stereotyping and conspiracy thinking. These forms of propaganda were used in a genocide of unprecedented proportions.
A conspiracy theory is a theory or belief that a certain event, development or condition in the social, political or economic sphere is the result of a conspiracy. According to this belief system, immoral and unapologetic individuals or groups secretly conspire to achieve their evil ends.
Even today, many people put their faith in conspiracy theories. Not all of them are necessarily dangerous, but it is important to keep an eye on them. After all, conspiracy theories always carry the risk of radicalisation. Conspiracy theorists think they know what is really going on and may try to expose that reality through action.
Example 1 : Some people are convinced that it was not a coincidence that the corona virus hit the news at the same time as the 5G network. Through social media, they proclaim that 5G causes the corona virus to spread.
Example 2 : Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is suspected of spreading the corona virus for his own profit. Since the start of the corona crisis, false messages on Gates have been sent into the world.
How can you protect yourself against such conspiracy theories? And how can we recognise them?
We have collected a number of points of attention in the form of a handy checklist. If you have ticked more than half of these, you are probably dealing with a conspiracy theory!
- The story starts believably and with clear facts. Gradually it becomes more improbable.
- The story is presented as the revelation of the real truth.
- There is a ‘powerful’ group of people who keep the real truth hidden.
- Everything is part of a bigger plan. The story exposes the plan.
- The story evokes strong emotions.
- There is an extreme distrust of scientists, news media or the government.
- Discussions are not conducted in public forums (but f.e. in private chats).
- The story is often removed from social media.
- Fact checkers and journalists say the story is false.
- People who contradict the story are gullible and not critical.
Attention! A conspiracy theory has a fixed structure:
- A (powerful) group…
- has a secret plan
- that is detrimental to the majority… and gives an advantage to that (powerful) group.
Do you want to know more?
A few interesting links :
- Checklist Arizona State University & ASU Ted Talk
- Website Factcheck
- Website Unesco, Think before sharing
- Website Europese Unie on Conspiracy theories