Conspiracy Theories in a Era of Misinformation

Discerning fact from fiction.


James Piazza, Staff Writer

We are at a moment in history where fact and fallacy have become increasingly difficult to distinguish. In 2017, ‘fake news’ was named the word of the year by Collins Dictionary. While that was a few years ago, things have only gotten worse.


“I don’t like the title ‘conspiracy theorist.’ I prefer the term ‘truther’ because what I’m saying is the truth,” anonymous Dowling student said. Names have been omitted to protect identities.


From controlling our minds to manipulating the weather, many conspiracies are focused on the government. Almost always it is the shadow government, dubbed the “deep state,” that is perpetrating some atrocity.


“The vaccine is definitely putting the chip in us. That’s how the government controls us. Directly through those [5g] towers,” one Dowling student said. “Don’t even get me started on how vaccines cause autism. Just do the research.”


Conspiracies surrounding vaccines almost always have no basis in genuine evidence and have been debunked by scientific analyses. Despite this, a host of unfounded beliefs persist.


A factor that contributes to the growing prominence of conspiracy theories are the constant attacks on legitimate sources of information. Experts are dismissed as being paid off, so hard data doesn’t mean a thing.


“Everybody is talking about experts this and experts that, but these so-called experts are paid off by George Soros to promote the deep state’s agenda,” an anonymous student said.


Many conspiracy theorists see the world through a lens of “good versus evil.” This helps propagate the idea that factual evidence is faulty.


“QAnon has top-secret security clearance, so he knows things that we don’t,” an anonymous student said. “We are fighting against people in government and in Hollywood.”


One conspiracy that has been circulating recently deals with the possibility of Trump taking back the presidency on March 4th. Proponents argue that the inauguration of President Biden was a sham, and that the military is actually in control of our government.


“Before he left the White House, Trump passed the Insurrection Act, which means the military is really in power, so Biden isn’t the actually president,” an anonymous student said. “Why else would there be so many soldiers in Washington right now?”


There is no evidence to support the claim that the military is in control of the United States. Further, Trump did not invoke the Insurrection Act, an age old law designed to suppress violent attempts to take control of the government.


As human beings, we are bound to have conflicting beliefs, but we must first recognize what is true. A blatant disregard for facts will only stifle our ability to make real change. Only with a common understanding of where we are now, can we truly have ideological discussions centered around where we ought to go in the future.