Who is able to produce:
Professional – Amateur – Anyone.
Most people are consumers rather than producers of conspiracy theories. They don’t come up with their own conspiracy theories but endorse those that are already in circulation.
Level of deception:
Low – Average – High – Very high.
Belief in conspiracy theories is generally based not on evidence, but in the faith of the believer. Conspiracy theory conversely posits the existence of secretive coalitions of individuals and speculates on their alleged activities which might be hard to disprove.
A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation when other explanations are more probable. However, unlike pseudoscience, fringe science conducts itself using the scientific method. The ideas studied by fringe scientists do not receive mainstream support.
Conspiracy beliefs have the potential to cause harm both to the individual and the community. Conspiracy endorsement is associated with lowered intention to participate in social and political causes, unwillingness to follow authoritative medical advice, increased willingness to seek alternative medicine, and a tendency to reject critical scientific findings.
The origin of countless conspiracy theories:
Working principle (what and how does it do):
Conspiracy theories are widely present on the web in the form of blogs and YouTube videos, as well as on social media.
Conspiracy theories are first and foremost forms of political propaganda. They are designed to denigrate specific individuals or groups or advance a political agenda. The theory that the Clintons were somehow involved in the Epstein suicide denigrates the Clintons. The notion that the US government staged the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School helped the pro-gun lobby to deflect arguments for greater gun control. What better way to pre-empt calls for greater gun control in the wake of a school shooting than to claim that it never happened?
Conspiracy theories appear to provide broad, internally consistent explanations that allow people to preserve beliefs in the face of uncertainty and contradiction.
A conspiracy theory may take any matter as its subject, but certain subjects attract greater interest than others. Favoured subjects include famous deaths and assassinations, morally dubious government activities, suppressed technologies, and “false flag” terrorism (pinning the blame on a second party).
Among the longest-standing and most widely recognised conspiracy theories are notions concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 1969 Apollo moon landings, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as numerous theories about alleged plots for world domination by various groups both real and imaginary.
WIRED list of articles on different conspiracies (up-to-date): https://www.wired.com/tag/conspiracy-theories/page/1/.
Five fact-checked tech conspiracies: https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-microphone-listening-for-ads-other-tech-conspiracy-theories-explained-2019-9.
YouTube video on different conspiracies:
Fact check: A guide to 9 conspiracy theories Trump is currently pushing: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/02/politics/fact-check-trump-conspiracy-theories-biden-covid-thugs-plane/index.html.
List of fact-checking websites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fact-checking_websites.
Worth-while EU funded initiative oriented at disinformation (including conspiracy theories): https://euvsdisinfo.eu/.