Coronavirus Pandemic: Conspiracy Theories and Theorists

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has given rise to many conspiracy theories. Some people believe that the virus was engineered in a laboratory and unleashed to decimate the population. Others maintain that the pandemic was caused by 5G signals that pollute the airwaves. Scientists have debunked these myths, yet many individuals continue to spread them. The spread of conspiracy theories can be curbed by providing the public with factual and accessible information. Understanding the psychology behind conspiracy theories is critical in reducing the circulation of misinformation.

There is a correlation between a person having a “conspiracy mentality” and certain personality traits. For instance, such individuals often demonstrate low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, a need for closure, and paranoid thinking (Latson par. 7). They formulate and spread conspiracy theories since it helps them comprehend confusing events. People reject what official sources say because they distrust authorities. This distrust is bred by a sequence of lies and lack of transparency demonstrated by leaders. Any explanation is conceivable as long as it does not come from experts or government officials. Additionally, the official explanations are not usually as sensational as theorists would prefer. Therefore, they create their own accounts that match their emotion regarding an issue. For instance, the world coming to a halt due to a virus from a bat appears insignificant given the magnitude of the coronavirus (Latson par. 4). It is easier to think that the pandemic is a part of a world domination scheme by affluent groups. While theories differ, those who formulate or believe in them share often some underlying traits.

Although the term “conspiracy theory” has a negative connotation, there are both positive and negative consequences of such ideas. An example of a positive result of these theories is that they hold authorities accountable. Some of the clandestine activities done by the government have been uncovered by conspiracy theorists. For instance, Edward Snowden maintained that government officials were involved in wiretapping (Latson par. 11). If his claim were dismissed as a conspiracy theory, citizens would not have known about the government’s secret surveillance program, and the latter would not be held accountable. However, the negative consequences of conspiracy theories often outweigh the positive. For instance, the myth that vaccines cause autism has fueled vaccine hesitancy. The view that the virus can be spread by coming in contact with a Chinese has increased hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans. Some people also believe that climate change is a hoax and are unlikely to take action to combat the crisis. Although on their own, conspiracy theories are harmless, such convictions do not exist in a vacuum. Consequently, they have many negative impacts on specific groups within the population or society in general.

I found the psychology of conspiracy theories to be intriguing. In the age of social media, misconceptions and misinformation spread far and fast. The theories discussed in the article are some common myths that almost everyone has heard. There are many more erroneous beliefs in circulation. For instance, I have heard numerous speculations about the cure of the coronavirus, including bleach, garlic, lemon, and alcohol. This shows that human beings can formulate many conspiracy theories for any given topic that is not well-understood. I think that such theories can only be countered with factual information. Since conspiracy theories are driven by curiosity and mistrust in authorities, it is essential to make information readily available and accessible. Suppressing the theories only promotes their spread because then people believe that a cover-up is in place. Providing citizens with adequate and authentic information about a subject or an event prevents the spread of misinformation.

Work Cited

Latson, Jennifer. “The Mind of a Conspiracy Theorist.” Psychology Today, 2020, Web.

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