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This conspiracy theory chart has gone viral. A local disinformation researcher breaks down what to know

This conspiracy theory chart has gone viral. A local disinformation researcher breaks down what to know

When does online disinformation transition from generally innocuous to harmful to others? a Boston-based researcher who studies disinformation and misinformation sought to break it down in a graph that rocketed across the Internet last week, giving readers clarity in an age when new conspiracy theories appear to emerge all the time.

Its creator, Abbie Richards, claimed that the chart is simply one of many conspiracy theory frameworks, which was retweeted more than 18,000 times. The concept, which was designed more than once, is intended to convey both an increased detachment from reality and threat level, with the top grouping largely rooted in antisemitic viewpoints.

Richards first learned conspiracies and conspiracy theories, major events like the 2020 presidential election had not yet occurred, nor had the coronavirus epidemic become as stark as it was today.

If you made this chart initially, there hadn't even been an election yet, let alone an entire disinformation campaign that the election was stolen, said Richards, a 25-year-old Bostonian whose vaccinations weren't out yet. There's so much that just changed.

Richards was prompted to create an updated pyramid as a result of this, and her audience was even more receptive to the chart, with it receiving more likes and shares and everything on Twitter in one night than it did in an entire year the first time, she said. (Richards redesigned the infographic slightly on Sunday, which she emailed to the Globe.)

It is fair game to answer questions about common narratives and interview them, Richards stated, but when you get into a point where you're not questioning anything, there's no methodology to it, you aren't going to experts who understand it, you refuse to accept other information about it that can become really dangerous.

The chart is divided into several parts, beginning with events that occurred including the and about the deadly consequences of its goods that Richards noted are extremely different from conspiracy theories as they are based in reality. She said these are actual proven instances of people in power conspiring and abuse their power.

As one passes the pyramid's speculation line, they enter into the category where there are still unanswered elements or where questions over said topics remain, and these can be silly or can be very real, Richards said. Further up the pyramid, the theories begin to leave reality but have not yet entered a zone where they might pose any serious danger to those who believe in them.

However, the categories outside of the reality denial line are populated with theories that are not just perilous to those who interpret them as the truth, but also to the people who surround them, Richards said. The top level of the conspiracy chart, when one crosses over the antisemitic point of no return, is populated with theories centered around the belief that an evil group of elites is secretly controlling the world and hiding something from everyone, and these are always rooted in antis

Between people hunkering down and sheltering from an unknown deadly virus to one of the most noticeable elections of a lifetime, there has been a heightened sense of isolation and fear in communities throughout the nation, creating an environment ripe for conspiracy theories to be born and rapidly spread, especially online and across social media platforms, according to Richards.

It's much simpler to get into a narrative that sells you a simple solution when you're uncertain about the world. "It's just this like extremely black and white villains and heroes," she said. "It's so much easier to buy into a narrative that sells you a simple solution when you're locked inside,' she added.

With the holiday season underway and friends and families gathering, Richards offered advice on how to speak to individuals who may believe in some of the theories highlighted on the chart. She recommends "To always take care of yourself first."

She stated, "You might as well interrogate them on their beliefs and see if you can cast doubt in certain aspects of it." But I wouldn't engage in disagreements about it because you aren't going to out-logic a belief that's not based on logical conclusion."

Shannon Larson can be reached at. Follow her on Twitter.

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