By Nigel Tate: Political Columnist

Conspiracy theories usually involve a secret organisation that is held responsible for a specific event or series of circumstances. These theories reject the original report of what happened, as some argue that there is more to a story than meets the eye. With ‘50% of the US population’ believing in at least one conspiracy theory, many wonder to what extent do they undermine the relationship between the government and its people.

In the US, as mentioned before, conspiracies have become a part of their culture. Many of those who accept the conspiracy’s version of events are either said to be society’s most vulnerable or possess some form of cognitive error. Cognitive errors occur when there is a difference in the way you think and how reality works. It also does not help when the current US president promotes his own conspiracy ideas, such as his denial of climate change and questioning the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.

Conspiracies are just harmless, right? To some degree, they are a fun conversation starter and do provide somewhat of a reasonable explanation. Nevertheless, they are considered a threat to the democratic system. These systems rely on trust and transparency in order to work efficiently. There has been a declining trend in political confidence since the 1980s. Many conspiracies like JFK’s assassination has further accelerated the rate of political scepticism. With 61% of the US population not buying their government’s description of how the assassination took place. This thereby, highlights how effective conspiracies can be at weakening governments.

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There is a similar pattern demonstrated in the UK as well. Oxford University are at the forefront for developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19. Despite this, conspiracies regarding the outbreak, have led some to refuse the vaccination if it were to be released. A survey of 2500 adults, conducted by University of Oxford themselves, displayed that just over 40% were convinced that COVID-19 and the vaccinations were designed to bring down the global population, and also to create an opportunity for mass surveillance via track and trace. Conspiracies have, thus, emerged into mainstream news due to the mistrust in the government’s handling of current affairs.

The ‘false flag’ event further fuels the conspiracy ideology. It is essentially an operation steered purposely by the government, with the aim of putting the entire blame on a second party. The most notable can be associated with US and UK’s joint effort to overthrow Iranian’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh (1953). Iran’s amendment of its political system into a democratic one, was a positive sign for the Western world. However, Iran’s decision to nationalise their oil supplies created tensions between Iran and the West (who previously had control over them). This eventually led to a series of bombings by the UK and US, who later framed communist sympathisers for the attacks. This is one of countless examples and emphasises why there is a significant amount a distrust towards government. These so-called ‘operations’ are designed to protect our nation and serve its interests, but to what cost? As far-fetched as these stories may sound, a few have proven to be right. This, combined with some questionable decisions made by the government, have led to the rise in people acknowledging conspiracies as the absolute truth.

Conspiracies are limitless and seem to have transcended common belief. From the infamous ‘faked’ moon landing to encountering aliens. They offer an alternative perspective to explain the unexplainable. Regardless, as interesting as these conspiracies are, they can be very damaging to our government. It is our democratic and civil right to scrutinise the actions carried out by those in charge. But, when we do hold our government accountable, we cannot completely rely on a ‘conspiracy’ to support our entire logic. With that in mind, who are you likely to defend, conspiracy theories or the government’s word?

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