These conspiracy theory believers went deep down the rabbit hole — then found a way out

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There’s a moment Stephanie Kemmerer regrets so deeply that her voice cracks as she recalls it, though it happened 10 years ago.

She was chatting with a homeless woman outside a local shop about the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

The woman shared that a friend of hers had been on one of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers.

“I looked right in her eyes and I said, ‘There were no planes’,” Stephanie says, drawing breath.

“I don’t know who this woman is, but if I could ever … I mean, there’s no way that I’d ever find her. But if I could, I would apologise. I would fall on my knees. That is just the coldest, cruellest thing I’ve ever done.

“But you can’t apologise to everyone.”

In her darkest place, the US-based Stephanie falsely believed the Twin Towers were destroyed by government design, and that the hijacked planes were edited into video footage.

She also falsely believed that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were murdered, was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans’ guns — and that the children’s grieving parents were “crisis actors”.

(She’s thankful she was never one of the many conspiracy theorists who have harassed, and who continue to attack, those parents.)

Today Stephanie is, in her words, a conspiracy theorist in recovery.

And she wants to help others who are trapped in a world of false beliefs to recover, too.

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