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Conspiracy epidemic, born in U.S., spreads in Europe

65 Comments
By Pierre Donadieu and Yann Schreiber

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65 Comments

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I don’t think people are suggesting it isn’t real.

But it was no accident and the CCP has still not accepted responsibility.

And conspiracy or not, parties around the world have used COVID for political abuse and financial gain.

-18 ( +19 / -37 )

Conspiracy theories are fairy tales for very bored and/or mentally challenged adults.

25 ( +40 / -15 )

I'm not into conspiracies, but they make some good points. Gov are taking this time to pass some dubious laws, introduce tracking etc. Also Bill Gates and his promotion of 'vaccines' is a little scary

-28 ( +14 / -42 )

Germans should not be hoodwinked so easily, but they have been before....

20 ( +26 / -6 )

Interesting. It's not necessary that only the right wing believe in conspiracy theories, even the left can subscribe to them.

I am surprised that no one has come up with a conspiracy theory regarding extra terrestrial origin of coronavirus. Being an ex X-Files fan, I would be willing to believe in that instead of any other conspiracy theory regarding the origin of the virus.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Is this what one calls gullible simpletons?

16 ( +24 / -8 )

Unfortunately these flames are fanned by Chinese and Russian attempts at subversion.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA112-11.html

I think we can all see that in comments we read on social media, blogs and news sites.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

Some people just never learn and believe in anything they are fed!

17 ( +21 / -4 )

There are people on this very website who say that Qanon supporters are "very sensible people". Shameful.

15 ( +22 / -7 )

As always, the truth is in between the both extrema. It’s very easy to see, that not all official versions are true, as well as not all accusations of the conspiracy theorists are completely false. Everyone has surely another level of tending to one side or the other. Put all under question and evaluate the answers and you are very fine with whatever theories from any side.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

I think this is the issue of our time. How do Western Democracies defend freedom of speech while at the same time counter or restrict the spread of obviously untrue, factually inaccurate conspiracies spread by totalitarian dictatorships to subvert trust in democracy as a form of government.

It will be a difficult balancing act as freedom of speech is central to our governing compact. At the same time, I just do not think that democracy can survive in a world where social media networks allow and even turbo-charge anti-factual conspiracies.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

How could Enlightenment-derived liberal democracy ever lead to anything but the current mess?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

It's hard to believe that intelligent thinking people can even believe this stuff.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

How could Enlightenment-derived liberal democracy ever lead to anything but the current mess?

Religion.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

It's hard to believe that intelligent thinking people can even believe this stuff.

Believing this stuff excludes one from being intelligent or thinking.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

From the photo, Trump's Big Lie scam spreads to Germany.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

How could Enlightenment-derived liberal democracy ever lead to anything but the current mess?

Religion.

And a political party that knows what is going and condones it in order to hold on to power.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Conspiracy theories are fairy tales for very bored and/or mentally challenged adults.

You're not still looking for WMDs in Iraq are you? What about the Gulf of Tonkin? WTC Building 7 was taken down by a basement fire?

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Conspiracy theories are fairy tales for very bored and/or mentally challenged adults.

What, there are no conspiracies? All governments and institutions are honest and only want what is best for us? I would not say the "conspiracy theorists" are the ones who are....

It doesn't help that whenever we see any mention of "conspiracy theories", they always have to make them sound as outrageous as possible.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

Conspiracy theories have been around forever. But with the proliferation of internet sites, a pandemic, a rise in far right extremism and, well, craziness... it's the perfect storm for something like Qanon etc to take root.

It's like witnessing the birth of a religion.

The truths will be fashioned until they fit certain narratives.

How could Enlightenment-derived liberal democracy ever lead to anything but the current mess?

QED.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Although mankind is manifestly loath to learn its lessons, history teaches us again and again how easy it is for demagogues to by-pass common sense and hack into the primate brain to perform a slick lobotomy releasing the myriad of right-wing Manchurian candidates that have gone viral and we now see running amok around the world.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Germans should not be hoodwinked so easily, but they have been before...

Not like us; paragons of sober minded rationality, completely unsusceptibile to the blandishments of two bit snake oil salesman Puleeeeezzzzz.....gimme a break.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This is a typical MSM hit piece thrown up to smear anyone who is skeptical of the official narrative, lumping them in with true QAnon nutters in order to discredit them. Same happened in the old USSR: critics were labelled as insane. You wouldn't want to be though of as insane, would you?

Read Robert Cialdini's "Influence" for some insight on how these persuasion techniques operate.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

Some conspiracy theories are true, others are not. The writer of this article tries to lump everything that does not fit the corporate media narrative together and smear even legitimate concerns as "conspiracy". This is propaganda, not journalism.

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

AFP reporters spent months looking into this environment of conspiracy theories on the continent, finding everything from adherents of QAnon, ultra-evangelicals and anti-vaxxers, to right-wing populists, the unemployed and even doctors.

My condolences on a work that very likely had a very high price in headaches and loss of faith in humanity.

What, there are no conspiracies? All governments and institutions are honest and only want what is best for us? I would not say the "conspiracy theorists" are the ones who are....

There is a huge difference between knowing there may be a conspiracy and letting go of that thought when confronted with evidence of it not being logical, and knowing there must be a conspiracy and no amount of evidence will ever change your mind about it.

It doesn't help that whenever we see any mention of "conspiracy theories", they always have to make them sound as outrageous as possible.

That is the thing, since they are completely uncorroborated conspiracy theories, they will sound outrageous and ridiculous to the people that know better, if you believe in any conspiracy theory (from the fake moon landings to your favorite drug being "suppressed" by every scientific and medical institution of the world) that will be outrageous to people that know they make no sense.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

The Cold War has merely moved from the ground, air, space, and sea domains into the cyber domain...

Russia is leading the infowar on democracy and the West as Putin extracts his revenge for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia receives aid and assistance from US far-right groups and their emissaries in the right-wing media who parrot this Russian propaganda merely for the Benjamins...

As we've seen, conspiracy theories flourish among the uneducated, those weak of mind, and with limited maturity...

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Toasted Heretic

Conspiracy theories have been around forever. But with the proliferation of internet sites, a pandemic, a rise in far right extremism and, well, craziness... it's the perfect storm for something like Qanon etc to take root.

It's like witnessing the birth of a religion.

The truths will be fashioned until they fit certain narratives.

That is quite true, except that woke extremism is much more prevalent and successful than any "right extremism", and is supported by Big Tech and the corporate media.

And yes, watching the spread of regressive leftist wokism is indeed like witnessing the birth of a religion. So we sort of agree.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

Crazy!

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Some conspiracy theories are true, others are not.

A 'true conspiracy theory' is also known as a 'fact'. It's not one of them 'alternative facts' that the right have been peddling in recent years.

The writer of this article tries to lump everything that does not fit the corporate media narrative together and smear even legitimate concerns as "conspiracy".

'The corporate media narrative' is a nice example of a conspiracy theory. You've invented a conspiracy theory to justify conspiracy theories. You now need to invent another one to explain the reason for 'the corporate media narrative'.

When you ask them to explain it's at that point that conspiracy theory folk usually say 'Control' in an ominous voice then walk away, thinking that it completes the circle.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

What, there are no conspiracies?

Conspiracies are indeed a thing that actually exist. Paul Manafort, for example, has been indicted for "conspiracy against the United States", yes.

But "conspiracies theories" as it's understood by our contemporary vocabulary designate only ludicrous concepts like chem trails, fleat earth and south korea dropping ballots in Arizona.

All governments and institutions are honest and only want what is best for us?

No. But claiming that all governments and institutions are automatically dishonest and evil is very much insane.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

This is a typical MSM hit piece thrown up to smear anyone who is skeptical of the official narrative,

Yeah, there will never be any reasonable conspiracy theory described honestly on the MSM.

There is a huge difference between knowing there may be a conspiracy and letting go of that thought when confronted with evidence of it not being logical, and knowing there must be a conspiracy and no amount of evidence will ever change your mind about it.

Yes, I agree. I am never 100% certain of my opinions and I am always ready to abandon them when confronted with real evidence, but not by superficial word salads.

When some people thought the covid vaccines were already perfectly fine even before the clinical trials started, I doubt any data will ever convince them that there is anything wrong with them...

There are those who will believe any conspiracy theories, and I consider that just as bad as those who believe that big pharma can do no harm. You know, the same big pharma who are convicted serial felons (bribery, falsifying data...)

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

It's like witnessing the birth of a religion.

I sometimes wonder whether it's a need to have beliefs that drives some people to follow wacky ideas. Ignorance is what drives science and rationality in general. To most people, "I don't know" is the answer to most big questions. And if we want to find out, we ask questions, look for answers, and probably accept that we may never know for sure. But it seems some are not comfortable with ignorance, and so need to latch onto beliefs immediately. I don't think it's a left-right thing. Perhaps more a result of fewer people following conventional religions and needing something else to believe in. (But what do I know? :-) )

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I’m happy to be a stupid conspiracy theorist than a woke moron who believes sweatshop sustained corporations and corrupt life-long government people are the vanguard of the resistance.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Right wing German speakers,what could go wrong. You'd think they'd be at least wearing tinfoil to protect themselves from Jewish space lasers.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

I’m happy to be a stupid conspiracy theorist than a woke moron who believes sweatshop sustained corporations and corrupt life-long government people are the vanguard of the resistance.

Your honesty is admirable. If only there was a non-binary world where you could perhaps be neither of those. You know, a kind of 'sensible' person who isn't so easily led by politically fed hatred.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

That is quite true, except that woke extremism is much more prevalent and successful than any "right extremism", and is supported by Big Tech and the corporate media.

There is no such thing as woke extremism. It exists in the fantasy world of the pc police and other such constructs. But Big Tech and corporate media are indeed talking points of the right.

And yes, watching the spread of regressive leftist wokism is indeed like witnessing the birth of a religion. So we sort of agree.

Oh, it's leftist wokism now? What exactly is "woke", by the way?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Covidiot conspiracy theorists/anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers are those who are easily led by non-science morons; they get their "facts" exclusively from social media and hate science because it is too hard for them - most were rubbish in the limited amount of schooling they had.

In short - Covidiot conspiracy theorists are all losers who every sane person laughs at. They deserve to be mocked.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

I consider that just as bad as those who believe that big pharma can do no harm.

Can you point us to actual people who claim that pharmaceuticals companies can do no harm? I've never heard anyone say that, except lobbyists of course.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I’m happy to be a stupid conspiracy theorist than a woke moron who believes sweatshop sustained corporations and corrupt life-long government people are the vanguard of the resistance.

Tweak your belief system just a wee bit, and it's what many of us on the left are against.

It's called capitalism.

I don't think the far right understand what they are railing against. They have their buzzwords and get all upset about cartoons, plastic toys and Hollywood. Somebody has taken something from us, they cry. But they aren't sure what. Which is what the cult of 45 was useful for. Channeling their impotent rage and being told they are victims.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Yes, I agree. I am never 100% certain of my opinions and I am always ready to abandon them when confronted with real evidence, but not by superficial word salads.

It is very easily to say this, but for people that abandoned logic an reason there is never "real" evidence and automatically it becomes "superficial word salads" when it proves the conspiracy as false.

The whole world could be in consensus about something because of overwhelming evidence and the conspiracy zealots will never accept it as real, instead they will cling to anybody that defends their conspiracy, even unethical convicted fraudsters that have been found lying. For the people that base their own sense of value on conspiracies the worst person in the world will always be completely trustworthy, while the best experts and institutions of the world will be always "in" the conspiracy.

Many times they lie to themselves to avoid accepting their mistakes, and something like "it is perfectly possible the vaccines are safe" becomes in their minds "the vaccines are perfectly safe".

2 ( +8 / -6 )

@ toasted

I don't think you'll get an answer to what is woke. Usually when you ask someone when they're on a rant they go mute. It's just a catchphrase to sling at someone as if it's offensive. More like it's a badge of honour that you give a dam about anybody but yourself.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Damn bloody phone.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In short - Covidiot conspiracy theorists are all losers who every sane person laughs at. They deserve to be mocked.

Initially, sure. In these dark times, you have to have a laugh.

But it's not going to change their minds. If anything, they will become more entrenched in their beliefs and their feelings that they are victims will be vindicated.

Unfortunately, dialogue (esp. online) is almost impossible. People double down. Not sure what the answer is.

I sometimes fear that the disease of conspiracy theories will do a lot more damage than we've seen.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

But Big Tech and corporate media are indeed talking points of the right. 

Why wouldn’t it be, because there are the ones that are trying to silence free speech and when you do that trying to silence opposition voices, you’re going to breed extremism in any country, everyone should have the right to say what they want and speak out.

Tweak your belief system just a wee bit, and it's what many of us on the left are against.

It's called capitalism.

So basically you’re saying, self-reliance and not spooning off the government is a bad thing? Working hard and being compensated for the hard work that I put in, is a bad thing?

I don't think the far right understand what they are railing against.

Oh, I know they do.

They have their buzzwords and get all upset about cartoons, plastic toys and Hollywood. Somebody has taken something from us, they cry. But they aren't sure what. Which is what the cult of 45 was useful for. Channeling their impotent rage and being told they are victims.

well, to be fair you can make that same argument about the left, there a buzz words that make them go off as well, capitalism for example, the right to dissent and the right to not agree with leftist policies not giving in to cancel or woke culture, those are the triggers for the left.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

I sometimes think that, as a species, we are getting dumber. The rise of orgs like qanon just reinforces the theory.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Initially, sure. In these dark times, you have to have a laugh. 

I find none of this amusing whatsoever. This is why extremism Is flourishing everywhere, because the left thinks it’s all funny and they don’t take it seriously or serious enough.

But it's not going to change their minds. If anything, they will become more entrenched in their beliefs and their feelings that they are victims will be vindicated.

Yes.

Unfortunately, dialogue (esp. online) is almost impossible. People double down. Not sure what the answer is.

No, They want dialogue, they just don’t want the left pushing their views and trying to indoctrinate them that their way is the only way and there’s no room for objectivity

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

Why wouldn’t it be, because there are the ones that are trying to silence free speech and when you do that trying to silence opposition voices, you’re going to breed extremism in any country

I'm sure Liz Cheney agrees. Aside from the extremist GOP, who has tried to silence dissenting voices? You can still say "Mr Potato Head", you're not going to get in trouble.

So basically you’re saying, self-reliance and not spooning off the government is a bad thing? Working hard and being compensated for the hard work that I put in, is a bad thing?

Hmm. Come back to me, one day, when you are able to read and comprehend what others have posted.

with leftist policies not giving in to cancel or woke culture, those are the triggers for the left.

A string of meaningless buzzwords. And this is what your insurgent allies are taking back?

I find none of this amusing whatsoever. This is why extremism Is flourishing everywhere, because the left thinks it’s all funny and they don’t take it seriously or serious enough.

Odd, seeing as every other day the right wing posts are full of violent rhetoric and when challenged, it's all a big joke, LOL, ROTFL etc.

Interesting article here on the weaponizing of irony by the far right

Fuentes was following a playbook popular among domestic extremists: using irony and claims of "just joking" to spread their message, while deflecting criticism. Researchers who track domestic extremism say the tactic, while not new, has helped several groups mask their danger, avoid consequences and draw younger people into their movements.

https://www.npr.org/2021/04/26/990274685/how-extremists-weaponize-irony-to-spread-hate

they just don’t want the left pushing their views and trying to indoctrinate them that their way is the only way

Sorry the far right feel oppressed, because some of us are asking them to treat us as humans and not chattel.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

This is why extremism Is flourishing everywhere, because the left thinks it’s all funny and they don’t take it seriously or serious enough.

How can the left at the same time "think it's all funny and take nothing seriously" and think things are so serious that they need to be censored all the time? Your arguments make no sense whatsoever.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I'm sure Liz Cheney agrees. Aside from the extremist GOP, who has tried to silence dissenting voices?

But she’s not, she’s just not head of her party chair.

Hmm. Come back to me, one day, when you are able to read and comprehend what others have posted.

I did and that’s why I’m commenting.

Odd, seeing as every other day the right wing posts are full of violent rhetoric and when challenged, it's all a big joke, LOL, ROTFL etc.

You can make the exact same argument about the left.

Sorry the far right feel oppressed, because some of us are asking them to treat us as humans and not chattel.

Treating people right goes both ways. People don’t become radical for the sake of it.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

But she’s not, she’s just not head of her party chair.

She's been cancelled for having the audacity to criticize 45. But this is mild compated to January 6th. Look at how the insurgents wanted to cancel Mike Pence.

I did and that’s why I’m commenting.

So, why did you not address the point made that there is crossover between some right and left? In that some of us want an end to sweatshops/corporations and government (like the "always men", as they're called in Colombia)? Instead you brought in a non-sequitur.

You can make the exact same argument about the left.

As usual, deflection and clearly didn't bother to read the article.

Treating people right goes both ways. People don’t become radical for the sake of it.

Please explain how the rich GOPers are being victimised? Because they aren't, they know it, you know it, I know it. And yet, they promote the conspiracy theory that their followers have had everything taken away - knowing that it will create unrest.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Conspiracies require no proof, no evidence which is why they are conspiracies. You can be jailed on a conspiracy without actual proof of any crime.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I don't think you'll get an answer to what is woke. Usually when you ask someone when they're on a rant they go mute.

Apparently so!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Watching those Israeli missiles bringing down those high-rise towers in Gaza got me to thinking who was really behind the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Watching those Israeli missiles bringing down those high-rise towers in Gaza got me to thinking who was really behind the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

If this is satire, it's still in poor taste.

If it isn't, this is another example of the anti-Semitic nature of conspiracy theories.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/conspiracy-theories-the-jews/

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Mr Kipling is generally against police brutality, however, in certain cases like this one, the police should exercise their batons with all their might. Logic, common sense and reasoning are useless with these people.

Maybe a good smack on the head will help?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Another significant US contribution to world culture...

2 ( +7 / -5 )

It is a virus used to control. Japanese are already mind controlled so the "virus" does not spread...

It spreads almost as fast as pointless, disruptive trolls.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

"I’m happy to be a stupid conspiracy theorist..." You could have just stopped after having made your point.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I’m happy to be a stupid conspiracy theorist than a woke moron who believes sweatshop sustained corporations and corrupt life-long government people are the vanguard of the resistance.

Go for it. If it keeps you out of trouble, why not?

I choose to be neither, but then again I like to think about stuff so tend to see more than two choices.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

This has set the conspiracy theorists on the defensive.

One thing I’ve noticed about conspiracy theorists is how thin-skinned they are.

Learn to laugh at yourselves. Self-deprecation is a very attractive quality to have.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Poppycock !

if conspiracy theories are spreading it’s because the corporate controlled media and social media are trying to control the narrative and online news publishers are too scared to let people write what the want. Hence....goes underground. It’s not rocket science.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Poppycock !

if conspiracy theories are spreading it’s because the corporate controlled media and social media are trying to control the narrative and online news publishers are too scared to let people write what the want. Hence....goes underground.

Like building 7?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

And that is why governments around the globe must improve transparency in their processes .

If not people will start explaining the world anyway they can.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Poppycock !

if conspiracy theories are spreading it’s because the corporate controlled media and social media are trying to control the narrative and online news publishers are too scared to let people write what the want. Hence....goes underground. It’s not rocket science.

That’s quite a conspiracy! Are you saying the global media are all in on it?

Can you tell us more or is it too dangerous?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Who would’ve imagined there’d be a conspiracy about...conspiracies!?

I think the original conspiracy advocates are hiding something. I think we should get to the bottom of it but I suspect this goes all the way to the top!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

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