‘I was wrong’: how Covid conspiracies became a gateway to extreme views

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Lewis traces the moment his once deeply held Covid-19 conspiracy theories began to unravel. It was in September last year, when a doctor engaged him and fellow activists in conversation as they handed out leaflets in a Liverpool park.

“We were always open to debate and she wasn’t hostile to us either. She just wanted to prove us wrong. One of the things she did was to point me to an article in the Lancet about the number of deaths,” he said, referring to the peer-reviewed general medical journal.

“From then on I was looking at the data, which I was always open to, and I came to realise I was wrong to believe what I did,” added Lewis, who has asked for only his first name to be used.

Nearly three years on from the start of the pandemic in Britain however, there was a stark reminder of the continuing reach of conspiracy theories on Wednesday when Tory MP Andrew Bridgen lost the party whip after comparing the use of Covid vaccines to the Holocaust. Lewis’s journey away from the beliefs that once enveloped his life meanwhile stands in contrast to others for whom Covid-19 conspiracy theories have acted as a gateway drug to other, more extreme views.

“Over the past several years, particularly during Covid, we’ve seen an increasing hybridisation of extremist and hate movements, and conspiracy theorists,” said Tim Squirrell, head of communications at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based extremism thinktank.

Content retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jan/11/we-walked-into-a-trap-anti-vaxxers-on-life-after-conspiracy-theories.

1 comment

  1. Social media and the Internet make it possible for conspiracy theories and misinformation to spread like never before. And hate groups can now network online reinforcing their propaganda.

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