Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out*
We don’t usually do reprints. But this is a special case, and we will not do a classical reprint. The Guardian published an article with this title on 24th of January, 2019, written — rather masterfully, we think — by Ed Pilkington, the Giardian US’ Chief reporter.
Pilkington reminds of some truly astonishing stats brought up by the University of Cambridge in late November 2018 (study carried in August 2018). They come from a joint study by YouGov-Cambridge (data sheets available at the botom of the linked page) covering 9 countries (8 EU countries + the US) and a combined sample size of 11,523 respondents.
While it is certainly worth looking at the number sheets in detail, we leave this to the curious and investigative readers and researchers. Results show that 72% of Italians believe in at least one conspiracy theory, compared to 80% of the Portuguese, 72% of the Polish, 76% of the French, 64% of the Americans, 52% of the Swedish, 65% of the Germans, 85% of the Hungarians, and 60% of the British.
Now, let’s go back to that article and why we think it is important that you read it. It is not about numbers, it is about human lives. It is about what happens to people who fall victims to disinformation and manipulation. If you ever wondered why we should pay attention at all to this penomenon, read these personal stories:
- Marcel Fontaine, falsely accused of being the Parkland shooter, [this is full account of the Parkland shooting, along with references and sources]
- Lenny Pozner, targeted after he lost his child at Sandy Hook, [full account of the shooting, referenced]
- Paul Offit, harassed by anti-vaccine activists,
- Brianna Wu, attacked by #gamergate trolls,
- James Alefantis, falsely accused of running a paedophile ring.
We invite you to read the full article. We can think of few better ways, if any, to convey the danger and the wide-ranging impact of disinformation on our lives.
* The title belongs to the original article in The Guardian