The Guardian

Populism and the internet – a toxic mix shaping the age of conspiracy theories | John Naughton

When we embarked on research into conspiracism five years ago, it seemed a fringe concern. Now, with Trump in office, it’s mainstream
Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, publisher of the InfoWars site. Photograph: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Conspiracy theories have generally had a bad press. They conjure up images of eccentrics in tinfoil hats who believe that aliens have landed and the government is hushing up the news. And maybe it’s statistically true that most conspiracy theories belong on the harmless fringe of the credibility spectrum.

On the other hand, the historical record contains some conspiracy theories that have had profound effects. Take the “” myth, widely believed in Germany after 1918, which held that the German army did not lose the First World War on the battlefield but was betrayed

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