Grenfell prof investigates Covid-19 conspiracy theories
A Grenfell professor has co-authored a new book exploring the development of pandemic conspiracy theories.
“Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas,” co-authored by Grenfell Campus folklorist John Bodner, was released just prior to the holiday season.
Dr. Bodner is one of six authors who “examine the most popular COVID-19 theories,” according to the publisher, McFarland & Company, Inc.: In a recent presentation about his research, Dr. Bodner explained some of the basics about “conspiracy theories.”
For instance, one frank definition for “conspiracy” was termed by Knight (2003): “when a small group of powerful people combine together in secret to plan and carry out an illegal or improper, particularly one that alters the course of events.”
“There are a lot of different ways to understand the different types of conspiracy theories,” said Dr. Bodner., pointing to alternate explanations of an isolated event (the moon landing hoax), vast conspiratorial systems (QAnon) and super-conspiracies (the New World Order).
Another way of understanding conspiracies, he said, is “who’s the enemy?” In other words, who is “them?”
“Conspiracy theories often talk about “them” or “they,” said Dr. Bodner. “Sometimes they identify who it is, sometimes they don’t.
Of course the term “conspiracy theory” is a derogatory one, and he points out that theorists will refer to themselves as “researchers” or “truthers” who are sharing knowledge that they consider to be nonfiction.
The work featured in “Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories” examines how theories, stories and conspiracy beliefs emerged as Covid-19 spread around the globe.
According to the publisher’s synopsis, “these theories infected communities from the halls of Congress to Facebook groups, spreading quickly in newspapers, on various social media and between friends. They spurred debate about the origins, treatment options and responses to the virus, creating distrust towards public health workers and suspicion of vaccines. This book examines the most popular Covid-19 theories, connecting current conspiracy beliefs to long-standing fears and urban legends. By examining the vehicles and mechanisms of Covid-19 conspiracy, readers can better understand how theories spread and how to respond to misinformation.” Chapters include:
Chapter 1: Conspiracy 101: A Primer
Chapter 2: The “Wuhan Virus”: A Cautionary Tale of Origin Conspiracy Theories
Chapter 3: Recycling White Power Rumors after the Black Death
Chapter 4: “But My Cousin Said”: COVID-19 and Black Communities
Chapter 5: Harmful Additives: Anti-vaccination Conspiracy Theories Before and During the Time of COVID-19