In the media

Helmut Anheier speaks on the global rise of conspiracy theories

Fact-checking alone may not be enough to contain movements like QAnon, Anheier says on Australia's Radio National.

Hertie School Professor of Sociology Helmut Anheier spoke on 12 October on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Radio National programme "Counterpoint" about the recent rise of political conspiracy theory movements in Europe. The far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theory "QAnon", for example, started in 2017 and has recently been gaining ground outside the US. 

Anheier discussed the threat conspiracy theories can pose to democracy and outlined ways policymakers could tackle this. Government fact-checking of harmful hoaxes is one idea, he said, noting this has downsides as well: "The problem here is that it could give more credence to the conspiracy theory. 'Oh, if it weren't true, why would the government spend so much effort on it?' " It might be more effective to rely on grassroots efforts by business and civil society to identify dangerous conspiracy theories, working with law enforcement when necessary, he said.

The full interview is available here, starting at 12:50.

Anheier also recently co-authored an op-ed on this subject with fellow Hertie School Professor Andrea Römmele, published in Project Syndicate.


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Views expressed by the author/interviewee may not necessarily reflect the views and values of the Hertie School.