‘Vaccine’ Against Conspiracy Theories Could Be Closer Than You Think

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Conspiracy theories are nothing new. But, since the evolution of the internet, their ability to spread around the world has increased exponentially.

As of 2022, roughly 70 percent Americans see misinformation as a major threat to society, compared to 57 percent who see the spread of infectious diseases as a major threat and 54 percent who are concerned about global climate change, according to surveys from Pew Research Center.

But what can we do to stop the spread of misinformation?

“Once people have been radicalized or are deep down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, it’s actually very difficult to then counter argue and bring people back, because they’ve already personally invested a lot in a particular worldview,” Sander van der Linden, a professor of Social Psychology in Society at the University of Cambridge, told Newsweek. “When you argue with them, they often just go further down the rabbit hole defending that worldview.”

Rather than targeting misinformation itself, van der Linden, whose research looks at how people process (mis)information, how it spreads through online and social networks, and how to make people immune to false information, believes we should target its spread.

In the study of infectious diseases, scientists use mathematical models to understand the spread of an infective agent through a population.

Content retrieved from: https://www.newsweek.com/vaccine-against-conspiracy-theories-misinformation-1832452.

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