You must log in or register to comment.

grantnel2002 t1_jca7mdn wrote

It pulled some of my family members in and they still believe it. It has torn people apart and has done unrecoverable harm to so many.


Professionalarsonist t1_jcasgmp wrote

My cousin from Ghana came to visit my family in the US a year ago. I honestly thought these conspiracies were just a joke until I picked him up from the airport. Conversation went like this:

Him: “Hey man, are you vaccinated? I’ve been thinking about doing it”

Me: “Yeah, you should do it. I think it’s available everywhere now”

Him: “idk man…I’m iffy about it, have you heard of bill gates?”


Him: “Well you know how he made computer viruses and then sold antivirus software?”

Me: “I think I’ve heard that theory once….”


He did not embellish on this point any further. He just sat there smugly acting like he had cracked the case. I was blown away. He’s aggressively uneducated. Like I don’t think I’ve ever met a more uneducated person in my life and it has nothing to do with being from Ghana. His sister is a freaking doctor. But it was my first real world glimpse into that group and I get the people that peddle this narrative now.


user_dan t1_jcaz9yr wrote

The magical or hierarchical thinker is very aware how their opinion is not accepted by the mainstream. It is a strategy to open with some kind of "I just have questions" statement to test the waters. If it fails, they pull back. If is is accepted, they open up a little more and repeat. Once they think you are "cool", they will dump their real opinion. The real opinion is usually very extreme.

Although you may think the conspiracy is crazy or your cousin is "aggressively uneducated", he is demonstrating quite a bit of executive function and planning. This is not crazy person behavior. It is predictable. It makes them great targets for political messaging and advertising campaigns.


someelephantsforget t1_jcc1woy wrote

I think in there would be the difference. I agree that they're not necessarily stupid or anything but, as im sure you're well aware, a good part of higher education is about comparing, contrasting, critiquing sources of information and compiling that into something to be marked by someone who has shown a sufficient skill in being able to to that aswell.

So, in general terms and not necessarily OPs cousin, I think uneducated is part of it and it does seem to the a recurring theme in the conspiracy type. I think it has to come with being at least just smart enough to be dangerous, often smarter, but also a with kind of arrogance and narcissism to convince themselves they know better about all these very in-depth subjects than virtually all the experts.

Although, some of them full on know its not true. The trouble is, theyre too far into the "big lie" now. So much of their personality is caught up in it, they could never back down, no matter what.


gabbertr0n t1_jcf42fr wrote

I’m interested in this term ‘hierarchical thinking’ and I see you paired it with magical thinking - I’m keen to understand these terms more, in relation to the conspiracy theorists we are discussing - if you would be so kind to explain, thank you.


Ferengi_Earwax t1_jcby89l wrote

Conspiracy theories bring comfort to people who are suffering from anxiety induced from the chaotic, random world we live in.

It allows them to cleverly self delude themselves into thinking they are actually incredibly smart. They now have the "truth". It makes them feel special. Once a person then is surrounded by others who also know the "truth", they form relationships that always reinforce their flawed beliefs. This is why it's incredibly difficult to bring a person back to reality after they've bought into conspiracy theories. You're taking away they're percieved uniqueness and in most cases, social circles. Any attempt to do this usually results in that person hiding inside the delusion even further. The person trying to help doesn't know the "truth" so how can they be right about anything else?

Conspiracy theories, misinformation, and propaganda has devastated my country. It caused thousands of Americans to try and over throw our govt. All based on easily verifiable lies.


grantnel2002 t1_jcatjmt wrote

I’m sorry you also had to go through this. It’s not easy to deal with.


Professionalarsonist t1_jcay3jr wrote

Eh it’s fine. It was more funny than anything. No one in our family takes his opinions seriously.


FiendishHawk t1_jcdpcc7 wrote

His vote is as good as anyone else’s… at least he’s not voting in the USA!


pale_blue_dots t1_jcayo89 wrote

Lack of education driving much of the problems in the world - story as old as time, I guess.


oakteaphone t1_jcc0inr wrote


Even if that were true, the virus would do bad things to your computer.

If the antivirus software were free (it wasn't back then), I'd rather have the antivirus software than the virus...


Scarlet109 t1_jcd0m51 wrote

Does he think a physical virus is the same as a computer virus…?


jonathanrdt t1_jcaa13e wrote

You are describing the impact of anything not rooted in defensible truth. Nonsense has been the blight of the modern world since the dawn or critical thought. That’s ~2500 years of struggle between thinking and following.

Edit: Writing appears 3500-3000 BCE, but the first writings about reasoning/critical thought don't appear until ~500 BCE. There is no actual evidence of conflict between reasoning and believing prior to then, and that's a long period of writing without a single mention. Before the early Greek thinkers, there doesn't appear to have been much. Knowledge was scarce and reason even more so. And after the decline of Classical civilization, it was almost completely lost to the 'West' for centuries until the Greek texts were rediscovered by the Arabs. Had they not done so, many might have been lost forever.


Blades137 t1_jcadzl0 wrote

Probably much longer than that, for all we know these traits have probably existed since man (and women) first walked the earth.

Just because there are no physical written records, doesn't mean this type of "thinking" didn't exist back then too.

It should be noted as well, that what people believe is often rooted in emotion, not logic.


-downtone_ t1_jcaiusi wrote

I would think emotional drives come first, followed by cognition. Seems we're in an intermediary state with it still even though we think we are past it.


pale_blue_dots t1_jcaysnt wrote

Could even go so far as to say that the same issues are exhibited in other species, too.


Absenceofavoid t1_jcb6h4g wrote

It’s beyond annoying because I think there are very legitimate reasons to criticize Gates, including the fact he appeared to treat his company like his personal Tinder, but I just can’t help but shoot down the conspiracy nonsense which makes people think I approve of everything he does or am a fan boy.

These people get so swirled up in their fantasies of the good fight they miss actual opportunities to take up the good fight.


SephithDarknesse t1_jcebw4e wrote

Its amusing how much logic these people are willing to ignore to continue their fantasies, too. I keep hearing from my SO's parents that all australian weather is down to bill gates.

Its a little more than that, though. You're not really allowed to go against the grain anywhere on reddits atm, else you'll be crudely accused of being a fanboy, no matter how much logic you produce. This is just people in general.


Tower21 t1_jcb14gt wrote

I thought we learned this during the anti trust era of Microsoft.

He doesn't want you dead per se, but he'd sure like to have all your money.

Greed =/= Evil Villian


killer-tofu87 t1_jcctujx wrote

A lie will travel around the world before the truth can even get its' shoes on


Wagamaga OP t1_jca7cac wrote

The COVID-19 pandemic was fertile ground for conspiracy theories and misinformation on Twitter, and Bill Gates was a frequent target. A new study, which analyzes well-known conspiracy theories about the role of Bill Gates during the pandemic is published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

K. Hazel Kwon, Ph.D., from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, and co-authors analyzed 313,088 tweets surrounding Bill Gates over a nine-month period in 2020.

The investigators define conspiracy theories as "explanatory narratives about the ultimate causes of significant social and political events, with claims of secret plots by powerful actors."

The findings showed that each conspiracy theory is not an isolated event; instead, they are highly dynamic and interwoven. "Most conspiracy theories that emerged in our dataset were complementary to one another," stated the investigators. "Such findings allude that individuals' beliefs in one conspiracy theory may reinforce another, which leads to more sharing behaviors in digital space."


user_dan t1_jcb0q8j wrote

The paper tries to paint a picture that Bill Gates was the center of the pandemic conspiracies. The Bill Gates stuff was limited to a small slice of the COVID disinformation campaign.

The social media discussions about Bill Gates were never organic. No one/bot wakes up one day with a Gates conspiracy and it goes viral. The catalyst is always a mainstream article or interview with or mentioning Bill Gates. From there, bigger influencers / bots pick it up and run with it until the trending spike dissipates.

The paper is looking at the train caboose in isolation and trying to come up with reasons for it's speed.


DamonFields t1_jcbki8w wrote

Bots are automated, cheap alternatives to trolls.


4RCH43ON t1_jcci5kw wrote

The irony that it’s always propaganda bots balancing Gates should not be lost on anyone. Critique the man if you must, but never go full Alex Jones, and woe upon those who just parrot the bots. I honestly can’t imagine living trapped inside such a web of lies, expect in the fact that most who are thus afflicted are often oblivious to their simple-minded gullibility and ignorance, if anything, they often believe the opposite. To have such certainty, and yet be so terribly wrong…


CatchingRays t1_jcakmj1 wrote

Facebook did a thing a while back where it labeled misinformation. That looked like a good step. Once an bad story or source is found out, can a platform message users that shared it with the info/data dispelling it? Point out the nefarious actors? Along with a compassionate note about it being hard to tell sometimes? And some notes about what could have tipped them off? I know I'm asking for a lot here, but platforms have an opportunity to educate their users. Little by little improve the experience of their site overall.


Spork_Warrior t1_jcatvxd wrote

But I've come to realize some people are just followers. They will always believe what their friends believe. They will always march off the cliff because they see others doing just that. News manipulators have learned to urge these people in certain directions just by convincing them that other like-minded individuals are doing the same thing

You can try to educate and inform them, but they are somehow pre-programed to be part of the pack. That's where they are more comfortable.


CatchingRays t1_jcauatk wrote

You’re right. Everyone can’t be saved. But some can. And some is better than none. Additionally, some of the unwilling will leave the platform, making it more enjoyable for everyone else.


jintro t1_jcclv53 wrote

They'd just dismiss it as part of the conspiracy. And Facebook and other platforms (like Reddit) aren't in it to educate, they are in it to drive engagement. With truth or lies, they couldn't care less.


Deutchpleuw t1_jce1gsj wrote

I think your head is in a good spot, I want to posit the further idea that I think you’d also need: a transparent means of explaining and proving proof why something is misinformation beyond a shadow of a doubt (not like a blurb that boils down to “trust us,” links to websites/articles/media etc though all should be from sources that are not co owned) just to be sure the social media company is able to be communally held accountable for truth and legitimacy. Just to make sure misuse CAN’T happen. Good old CYA


thatmikeguy t1_jcc6cgw wrote

How do people think AIs can function in that space? I get that people are hopeful, but I don't understand why yet.

Conspiracy theory has a wide breadth. If something is hidden without obvious reason, then people should ask why that is the case. I'm for transparency, and I want data that backs up whatever is said or hidden. I will try to look at all sides and try to understand why that is. But you are correct, most people do not look for real data or information, because that's more difficult to do.

Sometimes it may be for a greater good, or something like SARS-CoV-2, and a 419-0 vote to see something hidden why? Sometimes it may be because of outside influence on the subject, or classified technology...


AutoModerator t1_jca78ph wrote

Welcome to r/science! This is a heavily moderated subreddit in order to keep the discussion on science. However, we recognize that many people want to discuss how they feel the research relates to their own personal lives, so to give people a space to do that, personal anecdotes are allowed as responses to this comment. Any anecdotal comments elsewhere in the discussion will be removed and our normal comment rules apply to all other comments.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.


Xyrektv t1_jcbs4zo wrote

This sub has zero credibility


Grizzly_Andrews t1_jcc4yuu wrote

Huh, I just so happened to pick this book out of the donation bin at my apartment last month. Been meaning to give it a read


Hot-Delay5608 t1_jcczqyx wrote

The problem is not that those bots exist. The problem is the unwillingness of the Social media companies to take those bots down. They increase engagement and that's all they care about. The technology is not an issue it's the greed


DFWPunk t1_jcdb0l7 wrote

And guess who else benefited greatly from bots on Twitter, then insisted bots were a problem, and that he needed everything he could get on Twitter bots, like how they were detected, right after a report showed how he'd benefited from bots financially to the tune of tens of billions.


armahillo t1_jcegnqj wrote

was there a separate pandemic that didnt involve bill gates?


Rogers_Ebert t1_jcey09e wrote

Wow Bill gates really? The guy invents computers for the world and this is how he is treated? Bill gates seems like the nicest most caring guy in the world who could do no wrong.


NoCow8748 t1_jcck8qn wrote

Is there a reason bots haven't been used to combat misinformation? Is it just that real info doesn't get as widely disseminated because it's less interesting than conspiracies?


orangepewlz t1_jcdv3lc wrote

I love how these studies always pertain only to groups that happen to question the motives of big government/corporations and “philanthropist” billionaires.


VoluntarysmReturns t1_jcayi5z wrote

Bill Gates preaches from a “holier than thou” perspective. Worse still, is his lack of qualifications on the topics he discusses. There are many reasons to not trust him.