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Cass R. Sunstein

The Delicate Art of Debunking Conspiracy Theories

Presenting believers with facts can make them angrier. But sometimes the evidence does change minds.

Q is for QAnon, a conspiracy theory movement.

Q is for QAnon, a conspiracy theory movement.

Photographer: Rick Loomis/Getty Images

How do you debunk a conspiracy theory?

Suppose people think that Israel carried out the 9/11 attacks or that the moon landing was faked. Or that Koch money or Hillary Clinton or Pete Buttigieg was behind the Iowa caucus fiasco, or that the coronavirus comes from a fiendish plot by multinational corporations.