It might feel as though conspiracy theories are a fairly new phenomenon, with so many around coronavirus, vaccines and politics doing the rounds online.

However, there’s nothing new about these alternative views, with the earliest documented examples of a conspiracy theory dating back to Roman times.

And, according to new research by Ipsos MORI, it’s not that unusual to believe in one, either. Almost half of those interviewed for the study (49 per cent) considered at least one of three popular conspiracy theories to be “somewhat or very plausible.”

Forty per cent of participants believed that Princess Diana’s death was not an accident, while 32 per cent had alternative theories on state agitators. A quarter of those asked were sceptical about mainstream UFO theories.

However, most of the 11 examples included in the study found that more people disagreed than agreed with the conspiracy theory, with just 14 per cent believing climate change is not down to human activity, 14 per cent believing 9/11 was a planned event and 18 per cent believing the US 2020 election was set up.

Just two per cent of participants found 5G mobile phone towers theories “plausible”, and a further four per cent believed the Covid vaccine is a cover for implanting a microchip.

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So, where does it stem from?

Historically, people were led to believe there were “no coincidences” with a “nothing is as it seems” mentality. This prompted people to look beneath the surface to unveil “supposed” intentions, according to the study.

While social media carried the baton from past ideologies, Colin Strong, head of behavioural science at Ipsos MORI, also added: “Much of the discussion of conspiracy theories tends to focus on the individual and their possible deficits in effectively evaluating information.”

In addition, the study suggested that “lower-income households and those with fewer qualifications do seem to be slightly more likely to consider the conspiracy theory plausible.”

Results revealed 28 per cent of people from low-income backgrounds found two or more theories plausible, against 18 per cent from higher-income backgrounds.

The full list of conspiracy theories that participants found plausible:

  • Diana’s death - 40 per cent 
  • State agitators - 32 per cent 
  • 2008 crash - 29 per cent 
  • UFOs - 25 per cent 
  • Energy healing - 22 per cent 
  • US 2020 election - 18 per cent 
  • MMR autism - 16 per cent 
  • Climate change - 14 per cent 
  • 9/11 - 14 per cent 
  • Covid microchips - 4 per cent 
  • 5G Covid - 2 per cent 

To read the study in full, click here.

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