Conspiracy theories have now reached the heart of society. It may still be early for any empirical data, but over the past few days I’ve seen plenty of anecdotal evidence: my Facebook timeline has been full of comments speaking out against virologists, Bill Gates, vaccinations, Angela Merkel and against the strict measures introduced to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in 2015, when the refugee crisis unfolded in Europe, conspiracy theories gained a strong foothold in Germany. Proponents claimed Chancellor Merkel was secretly planning to bring in people from the Middle East and Asia in order to replace the German population; they suspected a global conspiracy. The name of billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been tied to many of these theories, giving those who believe in them an excuse to pin the blame on a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Followers of Germany’s Reichsbürger movement, who deny the legitimacy of the German state and issue their own identity documents, have regularly chimed in from the fringes. Some of their theories were so bleak that in the end they became somewhat amusing. But back then, I didn’t feel the noose of the conspirators tightening around my neck. Conspiracy theorists around the world have blamed Bill Gates… Read full this story
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