In the rush to condemn and debunk conspiracy-theory level topics such as the #plandemic fiasco, I am taking a step back here and looking at why some of these theories get so much traction.
- It is a reaction against perceived – or real – attacks on individual liberty. When governors like in Michigan are going overboard in trying to keep people from spreading the virus and appear to be making power plays, they are fueling the fire that makes some of these conspiracies seem more plausible. When there are areas that are not seeing large amounts of COVID-19 cases and people are being fed a one-size-fits-all approach to virus containment, it is not hard to imagine why some of the conspiracy theories gain traction.
- Official and mainstream sources can be just as bad and just as biased. When reporters and political pundits and government officials have been wrong before about so many issues, when they push the panic button on 24-hour news cycles and feed the public worse-case sensationalized scenarios that never pan out, mistrust is going to breed.
- Inability/unwillingness to critically research and high signal-to-noise ratio. When most articles out there do not properly handle the data, or present it with a political or personal agenda, it is sometimes hard to find good information.
- Confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. I am convinced that confirmation bias – the tendency to believe the information we agree with most – is one of the worst parts of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. We like to be right, and we look for the information that proves that we are right and we ignore the information that tells us that we are wrong. Combine that with cognitive dissonance – the inability to reject long-held, ingrained beliefs and traditions when alternate evidence is presented – and you have a good start for conspiracy theories.
- Promotion by groups with an agenda or profit motive. As much as Mikovits and those who produced the video claim that Dr. Fauci had a profit motive, purveyors of conspiracy media tend to be after money, political power, or both. We saw this quite a bit in the lead-up to the 2016 election when sham conspiratorial news stories would filter out of in places like the Balkans and wind up on major news outlets (remember Hillary supposed to be getting arrested?) We need to ask about who profits from promoting the conspiracy more than we need to take its claims seriously.
None of these things am I immune to. I am human. I am fallen. I am not God. Questioning the official story is good – but we have to be careful as to who is questioning and why they are doing it.