Conspiracy theories: How to be a smarter news consumer

Source: BBC

This election cycle, more users than ever before are turning to social media – and as a result, it can be difficult to separate reported fact from rampant speculation. The BBC’s Charlie Northcott discovers how to spot a conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy theories, a common feature in many elections, have run amok in a new climate where scuttlebutt travels round the world on social media before the mainstream media can get its boots on.

On Twitter, rumours that Hillary Clinton uses a body double to hide her health problems run alongside mainstream media reports about her contracting pneumonia.

Donald Trump hasn’t been spared either.

Some say he is a Russian spy, while others suggest he is really plotting to win the election for his rival, Hillary Clinton.

The BBC has spoken with four fact-checking and lie-detection experts. This is their guide to spotting conspiracy theories in the news.


Dick Cheney at 9/11 memorialImage copyrightPOOL
Image captionConspiracy theorists still insist Vice-President Dick Cheney was the secret mastermind behind 9/11

Secrecy

What do the claims that Hillary Clinton is scheming to ban Christian churchesand that Donald Trump is conspiring to destroy the Republican party have in common? Both involve a secret plot.

Hatching nefarious schemes behind closed doors is often a tell-tale sign of a conspiracy theory.

“If someone asserts something is going on in secret, alarm bells should be going off in your head,” says Joseph Uscinski, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami and author of American Conspiracy Theories.

“People acting in secrecy is a necessary feature of a conspiracy theory, as it cannot be disproved.”

Claiming a heinous plot is underway gives cover to even the most outlandish claims.

Read more

Categories: America, The Muslim Times, USA

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