Stop blindly believing conspiracy theories

Illustration by Roe Gassett | The Signal

In recent years, conspiracy theories’ popularity has grown rapidly. While some are drawn to them to pursue innocent fun, others are determined to find hidden truths that they are sure the government is hiding from them. 

Whether the acceptance of these theories is motivated by entertainment, ignorance or radicalization of political beliefs, it’s time we take a step away from conspiracies and understand the dangers of blindly accepting them.

In the last year alone, Google experienced a 4,050% increase in the searched topic 5G. When searching “conspiracy” on Google, most of the top 16 related searches have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, aside from “Bill Gates” (in eighth place) and “5G conspiracy theory (in 11th place).

YouTube celebrities like Shane Dawson have accrued millions of views from conspiracy theory videos.  Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been the subject of many viral edits, who is well known for his emotional outbursts and outlandish theories on his now-banned YouTube channel.

Some theories simply exist as satire, poking fun at people who sincerely believe in them. Some examples include the conspiracy that Chuck E. Cheese recycles their leftover pizza, giraffes don’t actually exist and certain government officials and socialites are reptilians in human skin suits who strive for world domination.

The subreddit r/BirdsArentReal mocks the conspiracy that birds do not exist and are merely government surveillance drones. The Clementine conspiracy (aka Project Golden Dragon) claims that the government is hiding a gold dragon-shaped mass the size of Manhattan on the dark side of the moon.

While theories of this caliber often don’t pose a danger to those consuming them, others aim to weaponize the masses through mob mentality. When enough people believe that a conspiracy holds truth, it sows public distrust, allowing their beliefs to be used as weapons by the theory’s author. 

Conspiracy theories related to the government tend to be the most dangerous and widely accepted among citizens who doubt or distrust our country’s government.

QAnon, a dangerous far-right conspiracy group, believes that the government is run by a Satan-worshipping liberal cult that kidnaps, slaughters and eats white children to gain power. In addition to these outlandish claims, they believe the cult controlled the Obama and Clinton administrations. They claim the Trump administration has forced this cult into a “deep state,” which is financed by Jewish media owners. 

The QAnon conspiracy is terrifyingly similar to the Nazi propaganda found in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” one of the most infamous anti-Semitic fabrications in history, as explored by Gregory Stanton in his article “QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded.”

While some conspiracies are in good fun, we need to be more aware of the ideas we are consuming. Just because a concept is new or uses interesting logic to draw conclusions doesn’t mean it holds any water. 

Insidious themes can be hidden in otherwise harmless messages, leaving unsuspecting consumers unaware of the author’s ulterior motives. We must recognize the biases that inform a theory’s author and understand how our opinions and beliefs can be weaponized to attain their reasons.