The new Jeffrey Epstein files have set off a fresh round of conspiracy theories

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This week’s unsealing of court records relating to Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged associates has brought about a new wave of conspiracy theories about the late, disgraced financier. Epstein, who died by suicide while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges, is a perennial favorite in conspiracy-minded communities because of his ties to the wealthy and powerful and the speculation surrounding his death.

Some false accusations tried to tie other high-profile figures who weren’t named in the documents to Epstein. Many other discussions centered around the idea that whatever the public is shown about Epstein isn’t the real story.

Conspiracist logic often functions as an inversion of the cliche that ‘seeing is believing,’ according to Jenny Rice, a professor of rhetoric at the University of Kentucky, who has researched conspiracy theorist communities devoted to the 9/11 attacks.

“You can only believe the things that you can’t see,” she explained. “The things that we are shown are deliberately produced and delivered to us and therefore are not trustworthy.”

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