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How Conspiracy Theories Perpetuate


ABC Radio National in Canberra, which is the Australian equivalent of BBC Radio 4 or RTE Radio 1, a news and features driven network, examines the development of conspiracy theories, some of which have homophobic, anti-semitic and anti-intellectual themes.  In their article, the station found that conspiracies have a deep history.  University of Florida professor Victoria Pagan, who researches conspiracy theories in the ancient Roman world, says as early as 331 BC, during the spread of an unknown plague, there's a record of a health-related conspiracy theory in ancient Rome, which claimed a ring of women were poisoning people.   Similarly when the bubonic plague was taking hold across the world, a 14th-century conspiracy theory maintained by some in Europe claimed that Jews were poisoning wells, Dr Pagan explains.  Dr Colin Dickey, whose latest book is Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy, adds it was partly also out of fear of Chinese and Russian communists that the FBI and the CIA was formed.  Fearing that the Chinese had developed mind control technology, the CIA began bizarre experiments on prisoners involving LSD, which of course, were doomed to failure.   Following revelations that the US government was "secretly dosing people with LSD to experiment on them", and also "spying on Martin Luther King", the US government began to be seen as the source of conspiracies, rather than the target, Dr Dickey says.  ABC Radio National says "there is often a common element between those who go furthest down conspiracy rabbit holes.   They are often "quite lonely people", according to Doctor Jolanda Jetten of the Psychology Department at the University of Queensland.  "They're often at the margins of society, they have lower status positions. And by actually believing these conspiracy theories online, and having others who believe them too, you create a bit of a community, and you actually set yourself apart in a positive way because you know things that the rest of us don't."


Conspiracy Theories
Anti-Gay Conspiracies
mental health

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