According to Piia Varis from Tilburg University, conspiracy theories are nowadays easily distributed through digital media and social media platforms. Despite the fact that there were also conspiracy theories before the internet, the internet has allowed people who believe in conspiracy theories to 'find' each other online, and share information that supports their claims. Furthermore, algorithms — for instance the YouTube algorithms — are notorious for promoting these false claims. And this might have some serious consequences. Based on conspiracy theories, people might deny the existence of climate change, or the importance of vaccinating their children.
In this episode of Babylon is Burning, Piia Varis shows how memes and other forms of communication can help to spread ideas that are simply not true. She also discusses some of the individuals and platforms that are employed for the spread of these ideas, the manner in which scientists are framed by conspiracy theory believers and how scientific publications are being misused to prove the authenticity of certain conspiracies.
Dr. Piia Varis is an associate professor at Tilburg University. She is specialized in researching the role of digital media in relation to digital knowledge and conspiracy theories. Don't forget to check out some of her publications on Diggit Magazine.
Babylon is Burning is a YouTube Talkshow on Digital Culture. It is a co-production between Babylon, Center for the study of Superdiversity (Tilburg University) and Diggit Magazine (www.diggitmagazine.com). Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel and help us unlock new affordances allowing us to bring you better content.