After the symptoms of Alzheimer's become obvious, the disease that prompts it has already been present in the brain for years, possibly decades. Yet, possessing knowledge of the state of the disease before hand is not practical. With no available remedy for the disease, doctors are not any better equipped knowing that an individual’s memories will soon be strained. Thus, the victim’s brain is left to slowly decay until death.
The helplessness that doctors and friends of Alzheimer victims may experience, is similar to my perception of those who begin to read and believe conspiracy theories. While one’s life is not in threat from digesting purported content, an individuals entire understanding of reality can be altered. With each person I have observed become obsessed with conspiracy theories, I have felt powerless.
To start, debating one who has been fooled by conspiracy theories achieves little results. A common advised tactic is to use a logical progression of questions that builds uncertainty in a theorists beliefs. This tactic often doesn’t work. One who did not use logic to reach a conclusion is unlikely to use logic to forfeit the same conclusion. If the questioning strategy does successfully challenge the view, the theorist is likely to reinforce their views through confirmation bias. An unskilled internet searcher will find sources that agree with their beliefs. A paradox of encouraging the conspiracy theory through debate is created.
Due to the fallibleness of people coupled with the internet and a skepticism towards authority, the frequency of conspiracy theorists in the united states in rampant. Conspiracy theorists used to peddle their nonsense with giant tacky signs on the street corners of city centers, and people would ignore them as loonies. However, modern day conspiracy theorists have gained attention through talk shows, “news” sites, and blogs, all of which act to legitimize the nonsensical and unsupported stories that they attempt to sell.
Considering the potential adverse effects of debating a theorist and the ease of untrained researchers to fall for false information, pulling people from conspiracy obsession can appear impossible. Perhaps, the solution is not to do anything. Some studies have proposed an individual’s level of narcissism as an indicator for ones likeliness to believe in conspiracy theories. A person may use conspiracy theories to appear to have unique and contrarian beliefs. If this is the case, perhaps showing disregard for one’s fictional thoughts on the shape of the Earth will reduce their interest in further peddling the idea.