Are Conspiracy Theories Culture-Specific or Do They Translate Across Cultures?

Conspiracy theories are a universal phenomenon, and the belief in them is widespread across oceans and civilizations. Conspiratorial viewpoints often cause a lot of conflicts between groups and nations. Many of the theories spread hate and falsehoods about other heritages, religions, and ethnic groups.

History of Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories are stories individuals devise to explain significant events or circumstances. Even when other perfectly plausible and rational explanations are provided, these theories usually have secretive groups of evil and influential people pulling strings behind the scenes. These plotting groups are thought to act in their own selfish interest and to want to cause harm to the rest of humanity. Because these groups are so powerful, it is almost impossible to find evidence they exist―so the conspiracy theories often go, and their advocates are not easily dissuaded by rational arguments.

Conspiracy theories are often born out of ignorance, mistrust, paranoia, conceit or sheer malice, and at their core they frequently encourage prejudice, witch hunts, and even genocides. If you look back on history, they have always been there. The fear of hidden power and conspiracies has been a force in politics from the eighteenth century to the present. However, it is possible that the CIA may have coined the term conspiracy theory in 1967. They began using the term to dismiss people who questioned the official story about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

‘Save our Children’ to ‘COVID is a HOAX’

The QAnon movement does not function like other conspiracy theories. This fringe movement is transnational. Q narratives seem to persist because they adapt to any situation. The myths are also so nonspecific that the followers can see whatever they want or need to see in the group.

Another big difference in current times with the Q conspiracy theory is the global pandemic. The most popular conspiracy theories in history thrive on anxieties, fear, and uncertainty. Every society has its own set of worries and obsessions. That is not the case now, which is why the group has flourished. They found millions of followers by spreading fake information about COVID-19 and vaccinations. Q comes at a time when scared people all around the globe are unsure about pretty much everything.

Eventually, social media platforms started deleting Q posts for spreading false information. At that point, the group stole the “save our children” hashtag. They only started using the hashtag to get around social media algorithms. They exploited fears about vulnerable children, and they never rescued children. However, people are passionate about kids, and the trick worked.

The group also found a lot more child advocate followers. This is also about the time Australia and New Zealand became involved. Around this time, QAnon protests began in Australia and New Zealand. Protests showed up with signs referencing sex trafficking tunnels, and “COVID is a HOAX.” They’re all over the globe these days, from the Congo to Turkey.

Conspiracy Theories and Social Media

Conspiracy theorists have tried to cast doubt on the official account of countless significant events for centuries. The difference today is that thanks to the Internet the discussions happen across a much wider geographical divide, faster and more easily.

The use of social media is an excellent tool for keeping people connected worldwide. Many also stay informed about current events through various social media platforms. This can be an issue because it also opens the door to misinformation. Conspiracy theorists use these platforms to share false information, such as posts from QAnon. The misinformation often covers important current topics such as vaccinations and COVID-19.

There is no evidence that there are more conspiracy theories today than at any other time in history. The Salem Witch Trials, for example, took place long before the existence of social media. Yet, social media has helped to speed up the spread of conspiracy theories around the globe, and the consequences could be dire.

Photo credit: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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