What's the best way to deal with conspiracy theories: Interview with Full Fact boss Will Moy

What's the best way to deal with conspiracy theories: Interview with Full Fact boss Will Moy

Catherine Neilan

20:33 21st January 2021

The impact of disinformation on politics is often hard to quantify. With something as subjective as which party has the best policies, or even whether to bother voting at all, the decision-making process is almost impossible to unpick.

Far from changing people's minds, the pro-Remain argument that Leavers were manipulated into voting for Brexit by a Russian trollbot campaign appears to actually entrench views - and exacerbates polarisation.

While the Intelligence and Security Committee noted that Russian efforts to influence the outcome of elections was "the new normal", MPs concluded that "the actual impact of such attempts on the result itself would be difficult - if not impossible - to prove."

Yet when it comes to science, things are a little clearer. A month into the Covid vaccination programme it has emerged that certain groups are particularly wary of getting their jab. Research last week showed that up to 72 per cent of black people were unlikely or very unlikely to have the jab, prompting renewed focus on the somewhat euphemistically termed "hard to reach" communities.

Of course, disinformation about the vaccine is just the latest in a long line of conspiracy theories that we have seen throughout the pandemic, ranging from the sinister (a pandemic created by powerful Jewish businessmen to control us through microchips) to the silly (a lasagne in Wembley Stadium).

If only all of it were so easy to dismiss as nonsense. But how can we sift through the never-ending stream of news, memes and well-intentioned WhatsApp messages advising us to gargle with bleach (don't) to find the real nuggets of truth? And what should we do when confronted with a real-life conspiracy theorist?

Listen to our latest episode of Making Common Ground, with Full Fact chief executive Will Moy, to find out.

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Tags: Brexit Conspiracy theories Democracy Journalism Vaccination Podcast