In the year 2021, conspiracy theories run rampant, native the halls of conference to viral Facebook and blush-pink Instagram posts. Conspiracy theories room nothing brand-new in the unified States, states Cynthia Miller-Idriss, one American university sociology professor who focuses on extremism and radicalization, yet they’ve to be able come spread favor wildfire end the past decade due to social media, i beg your pardon can quickly amplify and circulate misinformation.

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Amid a pandemic that has killed 600,000 americans to date, conditions couldn’t be more ripe because that conspiracy theories to take it hold. Miller-Idriss says that people tend to turn to conspiracy theories when they’ve shed a sense of control and feel afraid and also anxious because these theories deserve to offer comfort in the kind of a black-and-white answer. “When human being feel out of control, they’re attractive to points that sell them an action path,” Miller-Idriss tells Teen Vogue. “It’s easier to think in some nefarious orchestration than to think that over there is an invisible virus in the waiting that can harm their family.”


According to Miller-Idriss, “inexplicable deaths” — whether it’s death on a mass scale, favor the pandemic, or the loss of a renowned person favor Princess Diana — each other conspiracy theories. “When other is therefore horrifying, it’s easier for world to believe it can’t be true. They have the right to become much more vulnerable to conspiracy theories since maybe they can’t psychologically wrap your head roughly the truth that it is true,” she says. “It’s this episodic, shocking occasions that create vulnerability."


There's additionally a long historic record that the U.S. Government lying to its citizens, including about medical experiments, surprise surveillance and torture programs, and also the presence of tools of mass devastation in Iraq. Harboring suspicions the the federal government isn't always telling the full story is a perfect reasonable solution to this pattern of deception. Yet sometimes crucial thinking and also skepticism blossom right into something an ext fanciful and outlandish and a willingness to think information that matches up with our preexisting politics leanings or ideological beliefs. 


In Miller-Idriss's work-related as the director of American University’s Polarization and Extremism research & invention Lab, she has uncovered that one method to combat conspiracy theory is come reach civilization through a procedure called attitudinal inoculation. Through this technique, researcher strive come teach people how propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy theories function so that as soon as they come throughout suspicious cases from dubious sources, they’re appropriately skeptical.


Below Teen Vogue takes a watch at some of the most famous conspiracy theories of the past 50 years.

1. Myths about the Holocaust 

Between 1941 and 1945, six million Jews to be killed throughout Europe in a horrific genocide led through Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Regardless of the truth that the Holocaust is just one of the best-documented events in history, there space swaths of the populace that don’t believe it happened — or they think the fatality toll has actually been big inflated. One 2014 survey, combination by the Anti-Defamation League, of more than 53,000 people across 100 countries found that only 30% of respondent thought historic accounts that the Holocaust to be accurate. Respondent under the period of 65 were an ext likely to say castle didn’t believe the Holocaust occurred as history books speak it did.


Poor education on the subject might be one explanation because that this, however some conspiracy theorists push the anti-Semitic id that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated to garner sympathy and monetary gains for Jewish civilization while serving and also advancing Jewish interests. Deborah E. Lipstadt, a historian and also professor who has written books on Holocaust denial, separates Holocaust deniers right into two groups: There room the hard-core deniers that say the Holocaust didn’t occur at all; then, Lipstadt says, there room the less-fervent deniers who may admit the Holocaust happened yet question the official death toll or that gas chambers were provided for mass murder.

Among the numerous poignant points Lipstadt raises around Holocaust refusal is this question: “For the deniers to it is in right, who has to be wrong? Well, certainly all the survivors… the bystanders… yet most of all you have actually the perpetrators. They never said it didn’t happen.”

2. The CIA had a hand in JFK's assassination

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested on November 22, 1963, because that assassinating President john F. Kennedy Jr. That same day in Dallas, Texas. 2 days later, while gift transported to a neighborhood jail, Oswald to be shot and also killed through Jack Ruby, a Texas nightclub owner. This shocking collection of events was ripe for conspiracies native the start: Not only was a handsome, renowned president fatally shoot in wide daylight, the accused assassin was eliminated days later, inviting speculation about a cover-up. As early as the so late 1960s, much more than 50% of americans didn’t think Oswald had actually acted alone. And also as of 2017, FiveThirtyEight reports, 61% of Americans thought the assassination associated a conspiracy of some sort.

There are a few main JFK conspiracy theories. One famous theory is the the CIA eliminated JFK in retaliation for the failed just of Pigs intrusion to fall Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Follow to biographer Philip Shenon, Bobby Kennedy, JFK's brother and also the attorney general, originally thought a group of rogue CIA agents were affiliated in JFK's death, though he later on reconsidered. One more theory is the Oswald wasn’t the lone gunman; people can hardly be faulted because that believing this once a home of Representatives pick Committee top top Assassinations uncovered that there to be “probably” a conspiracy entailing a 2nd shooter. In 1982, another committee called those findings into question, yet the theory had currently taken root. A third theory: The assassination was in reality a mob hit expected to punishment Bobby Kennedy because that cracking under on the mafia. Oh, and did girlfriend hear the one around Ted Cruz’s father? We’re going come skip the here, but if you feel choose a laugh, look into it.

3. The moon landing was faked

In July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and also Buzz Aldrin became the first humans come land ~ above the surface of the moon — or go they? just kidding. They absolutely did. But by the 1970s, 30% that Americans believed the moon landing had actually been faked. Alternative histories quickly materialized. In the situation of the “fake moon landing,” wilhelm Kaysing reportedly started composing the book We never Went come the Moon: America’s Thirty exchange rate Dollar Swindle as satire, however he finished up completely believing the conspiracy. The primary idea in his book was that the clip of astronauts acquisition their very first steps on the moon’s surface ar — which hundreds of millions of civilization watched live on TV — was actually shot at Nevada’s Area 51 (another hotbed because that conspiracy theorists).


As freshly as 2019, a little survey confirmed that 10% of american still believed that the moon landing was a hoax. (In 2018, after ~ NBA star Steph Curry claimed he didn’t believe in the moon landing, NASA offered him a lunar lab tour.)

4. Princess Diana’s fatality was no accident

When Princess Diana – a beautiful, young, imperial outsider recognized as “the people’s princess” – was eliminated in a auto crash in Paris in 1997, one year after her divorce indigenous Prince Charles, conspiracies instantly abounded. The specifically, vary, but the crux of most Diana-related theory is this: The auto accident that eliminated her was no an accident. At the time of her death, she was dating Dodi Fayed, one Egyptian movie producer who died in the limo together her, who was supposedly plan to propose to Diana the night of the accident. In a court evil statement, Dodi’s father, Mohamed al-Fayed, said they were killed because the monarchy couldn’t stand the believed of Diana and Prince Charles’s sons — heirs to the brother throne — having a stepfather who was Egyptian and Muslim. Dodi’s father additionally claimed Diana was pregnant at the moment of the crash, though the coroner that examined Diana stated she to be not.


Another concept is that the limo driver, Henri Paul, that was drunk at the time of the accident, purposely crashed the car. Since Paul was the head of defense at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, where the couple had departed from simply prior to the crash, conspiracy theorists think he might have to be on the payroll the a national intelligence business group that wanted Diana dead. Various other theorists believe that Diana’s medical care after the crash to be deliberately sabotaged; because that conspiracy thinkers in the U.S., this idea emerged from the differences in between French and also American ideologies to emergency care. In France, protocol dictates that emergency clinical personnel attempt to stabilize a patient before transferring to the hospital; in the U.S., obtaining to the hospital is the very first priority. Since Diana was treated in ~ the scene and also not automatically rushed come the nearest hospital, some think this is proof she to be purposefully killed.

5. 9/11 to be an within job

In a collection of coordinated terror attacks, virtually 3,000 human being lost their lives throughout the events of September 11, 2001, through thousands an ext injured and also over 2,000 first responders ultimately losing your lives as result of illnesses regarded their time working at floor Zero. Top top that fall day in 2001, americans watched, stunned, as 2 planes struggle the twin Towers in brand-new York City, if a third struck the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a 4th crashed into a field exterior of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. September 11 take it its place in history as the date of the most deadly foreign attack on American soil, usurping Pearl Harbor.


Maybe it’s since of the range of lose — that virtually 3,000 people could be killed within a couple of hours top top a clear September morning — or due to the fact that of the lies that have actually been told to the American civilization to offer them on the limitless wars that followed the attacks, yet the subject of 9/11 has constantly been a playground for conspiracy theorists. One of the most prevalent theory is that the management of president George W. Shrub “did” 9/11, or at the very least knew around it and also let the happen since the administration wanted to walk to war in Afghanistan and Iraq for oil. Many 9/11 theory branch the end of the core conspiracy the 9/11 to be an inside job. The “proof”? Supposedly, the pair Towers can only have fell down the method they did together a result of managed demolition (this is false). Another favorite amongst conspiracy theorists: The Pentagon was not hit by a plane, yet by a missile.

A number of prominent numbers on the right, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have actually peddled conspiracy theories around 9/11. Follow to Slate, InfoWars radio organize Alex Jones is “one of the earliest and also most significant 9/11 conspiracy theorists” and has assisted these principles gain ground. Just a tip: If you discover yourself in a crowd with Greene and also Jones, it might be time to rethink a few things.

6. Mass shootings favor Sandy Hook to be “false flags”

After 20 first-graders and also six school staffers were eliminated at Sandy Hook Elementary college in Connecticut top top December 14, 2012, Alex Jones provided his formidable platform to claim the strike hadn’t in reality happened. The massive shooting, follow to Jones, was “completely fake” and also the slain children were rental “actors.” Sandy Hook conspiracies spread out far and also wide, with some grieving parents releasing bear certificates come prove their children existed, and having to deny requests to exhume their children’s bodies. 

Mass shootings continue to lug out the worst in conspiracy theorists. ~ the Parkland, Florida, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school left 17 dead, survivors were dubbed “crisis actors." once a gunman eliminated 58 people in ras Vegas, theory ran wild the he hadn’t plot alone. And also no matter where the shooting takes ar or exactly how many human being are affected, it seems there are constantly those that are ready to speak to it a “false flag” attack, design by the “deep state” to push gun manage laws. But if that were true, don’t you think we would certainly have, you know, passed considerable gun control by now?

7. Peak Democrats room behind a son sex ring

In October 2016 (what we used to think of together the most cursed year before we gotten in the hellscape of 2020), the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, john Podesta, were leaked online. In the emails, Podesta writes around possibly holding a fundraiser at the DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong, and also mentions bespeak cheese pizza. This seemingly not authorised details came to be fuel for the wild conspiracy the Comet Ping Pong to be the headquarters that a boy sex-trafficking ring run by democratic leaders, consisting of Clinton and also Podesta. Cheese pizza, theorists claimed, in reality meant kid pornography. As in so many conspiracy communities, the emails ended up being a cipher just insiders can decode.


A couple of weeks after Podesta’s emails to be leaked and also “Pizzagate” started getting traction online, a 28-year-old man walked into the northwest Washington pizzeria through an AR-15 rifle. After ~ his find of the premises yielded no dungeon holding son sex slaves, he fired his gun in ~ a locked door before surrendering come police. 


Although the would-be gunman later on told a judge his actions were “foolish and reckless,” Pizzagate conspiracies continued to proliferate online, ending up being the seed because that the equally fantastical QAnon conspiracy. In October 2017, an anonymous poster called “Q” began posting on the messaging plank 4chan, claiming to be an intelligence officer in the U.S. Government. Q increased the structures of Pizzagate: Not just are politicians and Hollywood elites yes, really satanic pedophiles, they also harvest the blood of children to continue to be young. The only human being who can stop them was Donald Trump. (After the election of chairman Joe Biden, part in the Q universe proceed to firmly insist that Biden is one illegitimate president and also Trump is judgment from the shadows, from which he will one day emerge to take power after the arrests of anyone from Hillary Clinton come Tom Hanks come the Pope.)

There’s so lot to say about QAnon, including its promoters in conference (hi again, Marjorie Taylor Greene!), the popularity among suburban mothers, its function in the fatal January 6 insurrection, and its ties come the wellness industry, yet we’ll leaving you v this: even Alex Jones shows up to have provided up on Q.

8. The planet is actually flat

The 2017 Flat planet International Conference featured speaker such as note Sargent, that runs the flat Earth ideas YouTube collection and has enjoyed a leading function in Netflix’s Behind the Curve, a documentary around Flat Earthers. Sargent insurance claims that the human being is a level soundstage under a dome, kind of choose the Truman Show. Although there’s not comprehensive polling on exactly how many people think the earth is flat, there’s proof that younger human being are more likely to believe this is the case.

The basic idea the this movement is appropriate there in that is name: The earth is flat, not a globe. Flat Earthers have a selection of theories about how castle think the civilization is in reality laid out, however the bulk seem to believe the planet is a flat disc through an ice wall around it. Although it deserve to be simple to laugh turn off the Flat planet theory — which thinkers themselves coincidentally debunked in Behind the Curve — this sort of belief can it is in a harbinger of excessive science skepticism around issues through real-world implications, like vaccines.

9. COVID-19 as populace control

Conspiracies around the novel coronavirus room a dime a dozen: The vaccine implants a microchip provided to track people; the fatality rate has been insanity inflated; oh, and also Bill gateways is not only responsible for the virus but additionally the head the a plot to usage the virus as population control. Room you exhausted yet? i am.

These theories have actually been debunked repeatedly, however they persist. That might have miscellaneous to do with then-president Donald Trump saying the virus to be no an ext deadly than the flu and also would sooner or later “disappear, prefer a miracle” there is no the need for a vaccine. Or it could be pertained to some Republican lawmakers that floated the idea that COVID can be a Chinese “bioweapon.” Or it can just it is in that, in a time of historical political polarization, this nation was unique ill-suited to resolve a catastrophic pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands the Americans. Take it your pick (and gain your vaccine, if you’re able).

Want more from Teen Vogue? examine this out: QAnon Conspiracy Theories space Driving family members Apart 

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Keywordsdonald trumpterrorismconspiracy theoriessandy hook9/11jfkmoonholocaustprincess dianacoronaviruspizzagate

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