Coronavirus, “plandemia” and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking | Kiowa County Press

Regardless of the plot details, conspiracy theories follow common thought patterns. Ranta Images / iStock / Getty Images Plus

John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, Cambridge University; Stéphane Lewandowsky, Bristol University, and Ullrich Ecker, University of Western Australia

The “Plandemic” conspiracy theory video recently went viral. Although it has been deleted by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to be downloaded and viewed millions of times. The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on vast deception, with the aim of profiting from the sale of vaccines.

The video is riddled with false information and conspiracy theories. There have been many high-quality fact-checks and demystifications published by reputable media such as Science, Politifact, and FactCheck.

As academics who research how to counter scientific disinformation and conspiracy theories, we believe it is also useful to expose the rhetorical techniques used in “Plandemic”. As we describe in our Handbook on Conspiracy Theory and How to Spot COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, there are seven hallmarks of conspiracy thought. “Plandemic” offers sample textbooks for all.

Learning these traits can help you spot the red flags of a baseless conspiracy theory and hopefully create some resistance to being fooled by this kind of thinking. This is an important skill given the current wave of pandemic fueled conspiracy theories.

The Seven Traits of Conspiracy Thought. John cook, CC BY-ND

1. Contradictory beliefs

Conspiracy theorists are so determined not to believe an official account that it doesn’t matter if their belief system is internally contradictory. The “Plandemic” video advances two false origin stories for the coronavirus. He argues that SARS-CoV-2 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan – but also argues that everyone already has the coronavirus from previous vaccinations and wearing masks activates it. Believing in the two causes is incompatible.

2. Overcome suspicion

Conspiracy theorists are extremely suspicious of the official account. This means that any scientific evidence that does not match the conspiracy theory must be rigged.

But if you believe that the scientific data is tampered with, it leads one to believe that any scientific organization publishing or endorsing research consistent with the “official account” must be involved in the conspiracy. For COVID-19, this includes the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Anthony Fauci ….

3. Malicious intent

In a conspiracy theory, the conspirators are supposed to have bad motives. In the case of “Plandemic”, there is no limit to the harmful intention. The video suggests scientists, including Anthony Fauci, engineered the COVID-19 pandemic, a conspiracy that has killed hundreds of thousands of people so far for potentially billions of dollars in profit.

Conspiracy thinking finds bad intentions at all levels of the alleged conspiracy. MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images

4. Condemnation that something is wrong

Conspiracy theorists can sometimes abandon specific ideas when they become untenable. But these reviews tend not to change their general conclusion that “something is wrong” and that the official narrative is based on deception.

When “Plandemic” director Mikki Willis was asked if he really believed COVID-19 was intentionally launched for profit, his response was “I don’t know, to be clear, if he is. this is an intentional or natural situation. I have no idea. “

He has no idea. All he knows for sure is that something is wrong: “This is too fishy.”

5. Persecuted victim

Conspiracy theorists see themselves as the victims of organized persecution. “Plandemic” further aggravates the status of persecuted victim by characterizing the entire world population as the victim of a vast deception, which is broadcast by the media and even ourselves as unwitting accomplices.

At the same time, conspiracy theorists see themselves as brave heroes facing off against villainous conspirators.

6. Immunity to proof

It’s so hard to change a conspiracy theorist’s mind because their theories are self-sealing. Even the absence of proof of a theory becomes proof of the theory: The reason there is no proof of the conspiracy is that the conspirators did such a good job of covering it up.

7. Reinterpreting chance

Conspiracy theorists see patterns everywhere – they’re all about connecting the dots. Random events are reinterpreted as being caused by the conspiracy and woven into a larger, interconnected pattern. All connections are imbued with a sinister meaning.

For example, the “Plandemic” video suggestively points to funding from the US National Institutes of Health that went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. This despite the fact that the laboratory is only one of many international collaborators on a project that aimed to examine the risk of future viruses emerging from wildlife.

Learning the common traits of conspiracy thinking can help you recognize and resist conspiracy theories.

Critical thinking is the antidote

As we explore in our Conspiracy Theory Handbook, there are a variety of strategies you can use in response to conspiracy theories.

One approach is to inoculate yourself and your social networks by identifying and exposing traits of conspiratorial thinking. Another approach is to ‘cognitively empower’ people, encouraging them to think analytically. The antidote to conspiratorial thinking is critical thinking, which involves a healthy skepticism of official accounts while carefully considering the available evidence.

Understanding and revealing the techniques of conspiracy theorists is key to getting vaccinated and protecting others from being misled, especially when we are most vulnerable: in times of crisis and uncertainty.

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The conversation

John Cook, Assistant Research Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, Director, Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, Cambridge University; Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology, Bristol University, and Ullrich Ecker, associate professor of cognitive science, University of Western Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

About Florence M. Sorensen

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