• Joseph Tobias

The Dangers of Conspiracy Theories: Hate-Xenophobia-Scapegoating, and the Comfort it Brings

The conspiracies surrounding COVID-19 in Nigeria and around the world are more available than the protective equipments required to combat the virus. These conspiracies range from the primitive eating of raw-bat-meat, to the sophisticated 5G network, and everything in-between. From the illuminati to the Gates, to the Obamas, and to a lab in China. For many religious faithful’s, “these are sig

ns of the end times.”

There is no doubting the fact that conspiracies always find a breeding ground in a soil infested by crisis and confusion. COVID-19 is a perfect breeding ground for conspiracies.

One thing though, that continues to amaze me, is how an individual will strongly believe and promote five different conspiracies, on the same issue, and fail to recognize the cognitive dissonance.

Many of these conspiracies are promoting outright racism, scapegoating, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, anti-science stands, and the list could go on. The fear of COVID-19, while bringing the best out of some, it has brought the worst out of others. Once again, crisis has brought many to their familiar ally, “BLAME.”

Why do conspiracies thrive in times of unabated crisis? For humans, part of our blessing and curse is that, there is a discomfort that births anxiety when faced with the unknown. To fill the vacuum of the unknown, we create fables to give the mind something to find comfort in; as though by knowing the problem is unraveled. This is why conspiracies are dangerous because in filling the vacuum of the unknown with lies and half-truths, which most times points to something or someone we can blame, we create a scapegoat we can burn at the stake.

Also, through conspiracies, we find something to distract from the issues at hand. Instead of facing what faces us, we look aside because the brutality of the issues is too discomforting to confront, so we take the lower road; which in most cases are the easy but often dangerous roads.

Conspiracies impact our will to demand action, while allowing ourselves to become passive; resigning to fate becoming conformers to inaction. Conspiracies are the drug we sometimes take to sedate what we demand from ourselves and from our leaders.”

I understand that there are comforts we gain from conspiracies, a certain certainty that provides food for the mind to chew on, and sometimes help us make sense of a crisis. But remember, if they are conspiracies, they are unverified truths, if they are unverified, they can be false, and if they are false, they promote lies that can be dangerous.

Be careful on what you believe and share.

Joseph Tobias

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