A scary percentage of our neighbors believe in next-level crazy conspiracy theories.
According to a new NPR/Ipsos poll, forty percent of Americans believe the wild claim that Covid-19 was produced in a Chinese lab, despite science and evidence disproving this. One-third of people believe that election fraud is the reason that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, again with no proof.
Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos, told NPR that "increasingly, people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn't have any basis in reality or fact."
"It's total bonkers," Jackson continued, "and yet ... essentially half of Americans believe it's true or think that maybe it's true. They don't really know. And I think that's terrifying that half of Americans believe that could be the case."
Looking specifically at election conspiracy theories, evidence disproving it goes across the political aisle. Trump's long-time Attorney General and right-hand man William Barr said that there is no evidence of election fraud. And investigators in Georgia found no fraudulent absentee ballots after a thorough audit, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Trump's own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) took it a step further, saying, "The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," in a statement. Which lead to the firing of now-former CISA Director Christopher Krebs.
"Conspiracy theories have most often flourished during times of great sociopolitical upheaval and uncertainty," says a November Vox article.
With Covid-19 ravaging communities across America, this is almost as uncertain as it gets. So, QAnon conspiracy theorists take comfort in what Trump says because it's painless. It's easier to make up excuses and lies than to face your party losing an election or that there is a dangerous virus killing thousands of Americans. And with the internet, spreading conspiracies is easier than ever, according to Vox.
People are also achieving wealth and social media fame from conspiracy theories:: "Alex Jones, the host of the alarmist far-right show Infowars, is perhaps the most successful, visible example of someone building an empire out of peddling conspiracy theories — the more absurd, the better. But he's not alone. Conspiracy theories flourish on TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube (which has long fought a battle against those who spread them) not just because individual theories go viral, but because their creators can become hugely influential," according to Vox. "There's no hard evidence that conspiracy theories are circulating more widely today than ever before. But over the past five years, it has certainly seemed like average Americans have bought into them more and more."