Governments all over the world have been accused of various conspiracies. Some people believe they are hiding information from their citizens, such as 9/11 and UFOs. Others believe that governments control society through mind control or fear tactics. What is true?
First off, it is important to know that governments do not operate in a vacuum where there are no conspiracies at all. Governments also have secrets that they don’t want the public to know about for reasons of national security or economic stability.
Although these secrets may be illegal by some standards, this doesn’t mean that every conspiracy theory must be true because there will always be false accusations against government officials based on personal biases and needs for attention rather than reality. It cannot be verified how many accusations are true, but they do exist.
The reason it is important to know about government conspiracies is that citizens have the right to be informed about their representatives. The secrecy of governments can hurt society if it means that laws are not being enforced properly. It can have a greater impact on the world if it means that people might try to overthrow a government, knowing they will get away with it under the guise of national security.
Some governments may be overthrown because the information was covered up or delayed specifically to make sure the country would be in a weak position. It is important to know that, even if the entire government was not involved with every conspiracy, only those at the very top can explicitly stop them from continuing and holding people accountable for their actions.
For this reason, it is important for all governments to be as transparent as possible and for there not to be a massive divide between citizens and those in power. This will hopefully prevent some of the negative impacts on society that government conspiracies can cause, which include but are not limited to unfair treatment of people based on their nationality or religion.
The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic produced a significant surge in the endorsement of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy stories can help to foster and exacerbate distrust toward health professionals and authorities, which may lead to violent radicalization.
The primary aim of this perspective essay is to assist policy-makers in understanding conspiracy theories by applying the 3N model of radicalization and self-determination theory. Potential methods for combating conspiracy thinking during epidemics are discussed based on empirical research, theoretical analysis, and existing countermeasures.
People around the world are growing weary and frustrated in response to lockdowns and health restrictions intended to combat the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. This anxiety is partially reflected in the rise of conspiracy thinking (European Commission, 2020).
According to a poll conducted in 28 nations, one-third of respondents worldwide believe that “a foreign power/other force” intentionally triggered the current epidemic.
someAnother significant pathway through which conspiracy beliefs can contribute to the breakdown in public trust is by influencing people’s perceptions of “the other” in society. This, together with my own experiences with health issues, illustrates how far-fetched beliefs about vaccines have permeated our society at large (Cohn and Kutalek, 2016).
The purpose of this Perspective essay is to raise awareness of conspiracy theories, explain how they influence people, and suggest possible intervention methods based on theory, empirical research, and current efforts.
One of the ways we can motivate ourselves to recover significance following a loss is by invoking the term “meaningfulness.” Specifically, this significant loss may be represented as the denial of three psychological needs that were discovered to be common: competence, autonomy, and attachment.
People respond to an event based on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with these three psychological needs. People seek to satisfy these psychological demands when they are not satisfied or frustrated, which is considered a continuous search.
Theories of conspiracy are thought to be important motivators that lead individuals to take action and achieve particular objectives as a result of their beliefs. As a result of a significant transformation that diminishes an individual’s feeling of control (autonomy), conspiracy theories develop.
Conspiracies that dominated America
Many people seem to believe that the United States is governed from behind the scenes by a conspiratorial elite with hidden goals, such as replacing the country’s government system or placing it under the authority of a global government.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the conspirators were previously thought to be Communist sympathizers who sought to impose a global government on the United States, but the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991 debunked that notion.
Most conspiratorial theorists, however, shifted their attention to the United Nations as the most likely controlling force in a “new world order,” which is contradicted by the UN’s impotence and even moderates within America’s power structure to give it anything more than a limited involvement.
A secret group of agents located within the CIA was behind many terrible events and murders since the 1960s, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, according to a smaller group of conspiratorial theorists.
Exposure to conspiracy theories reduces trust in governments
Conspiracy theories, in general, have become increasingly widespread in Western societies since the mid-1990s, according to a range of surveys that include representative sample populations throughout Europe and North America.
Many studies have found cross-national correlations between conspiracy thinking and distrust of institutions, including political institutions.
Conspiracy theories are not new; from suspicions that President John F. Kennedy was killed in a conspiracy to fears that 9/11 might have been an “inside job,” alternative analyses about major events have attracted a wide range of people.
In new research, Katherine Levine Einstein and David M. Glick find that people who are exposed to conspiracy theories tend to trust the government less. In light of these findings, they argue that the media and scholars need to think more carefully about how the reporting of conspiracy theories shapes people’s relationship with democracy.
Conspiratorial assertions regularly migrate from the fringes into the general media and political surveys. The following are just a few examples in recent years and months of conspiratorial ideas making their way into prominent politics: “9/11 truthers,” allegations about climate scientists, assertions that George W. Bush did not truly win Ohio in 2004.
Our study shows that, at times, news coverage of these events may help to promote a more informed democracy—particularly if conspiracy theories are successfully debunked—but it can have negative consequences. Specifically, we show that exposure to a conspiracy theory in a familiar “he said, she said” format—even if it is accompanied by a refutation.
Conspiracy theories seem to be effective at changing people’s minds. We find that, if anything, efficacy only increases with exposure, in part because conspiracy theories create doubts about whether official information is trustworthy. Conspiracy thinking also undermines trust in government.
In our survey experiment, some people were assigned to read a straightforward newspaper article based on current news coverage of a conspiracy. Our text not only reported excellent economic data but also included the conspiratorial allegation (prominently propagated by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch) that the Bureau of Labor Statistics manipulated economic data for political purposes during the 2012 election season.
It was also distinguished by its thoroughness and production quality. Furthermore, it offered a reasonable source that calmly debunked the claim while also providing point-counterpoint treatment that is common in today’s media (see Brendan Nyhan on these topics).
Our results showed that the conspiracy article produced large shifts in views toward thinking that the economy is weaker than official data say it is, with people who read both positive and negative coverage reporting similar effects.
Conspiracy theories have become so prevalent in society today for several different reasons. Some are based on historical events while others are concocted entirely by the imagination. In any case, the effects of conspiracy theories are unhealthy for society.
They can make people doubt their government and in some cases lead to violent uprisings against authority figures. We must find a way to prevent these ideas from spreading or at least diminish their power in influencing people’s beliefs.
Regardless of their political leanings, individuals who read the article had far less trust in a variety of government institutions than those who were not exposed to the conspiracy allegation.
Our research, however, demonstrates that merely hearing about a conspiracy claim in the media lowers trust in government institutions both directly and indirectly involved in the conspiracy.
Government conspiracies are dangerous because they can lead to a lack of trust in government, and consequently society. Our research has shown that conspiracy theories can change people’s minds about whether or not their information is trustworthy.
It is important to find ways in which we can diminish the power these ideas hold over us so that our democracy remains strong. Governments should be held accountable for operating in secrecy, but this does not mean it’s okay when citizens think there may be something sinister going on behind closed doors—we need transparency from them as well.