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People have believed in Bigfoot, UFOs and lots of other wild stories for generations, and while evidence of these claims tends to be elusive, the conspiracies continue. Most recently, wild claims and misinformation has begun to surface on social media platforms, much of it related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I won’t get into those specifically, but I’m sure you can conjure one or two right now.
So, why do people believe in fantastical tales that escape reason, logic and understanding?
In my last column, I explored how low rates of literacy can affect the spread of both good, legitimate information as well as questionable and misleading information. Conspiracy theories are something very different than misunderstanding information because they are often deliberate and substantiated by misinformation and outright untruth. Not to mention that when looked at more closely, many conspiracy theories sound more like episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” So where do conspiracy theories come from? And why do people propagate them?
Certainly, literacy rates within a population can have a huge effect on the proliferation of misinformation, but not always. A lot of weird conspiracies have been created and spread by smart people. The easy answer to the …
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