Conspiracy narratives, defined as “an account of events as the deliberate product of a powerful few, regardless of the evidence” are not novel; they have driven political movements and extremism for hundreds of years. Supercharged by social media and further accelerated by the COVID -19 pandemic, conspiracy narratives have moved to the forefront of global public discourse and act as a catalyst for radicali sation. This recent surge of conspiracy narratives has impacted extremist movements of all kinds, including violent right -wing extremism (VRWE) and violent left-wing extremism (VLWE).
Throughout this conclusion paper we will use the term “conspiracy narratives” rather than the more commonly used term “conspiracy theories” to refer to this form of thinking. This is an effort to deny this form of thinking the legitimacy of being referred to as theories. In addition to this, conspiracy narratives differ from genuine conspiracies, which relate to an agreement between two or more people who aim to commit an act against something or someone.
The aim of the RAN Communication and Narratives Working Group (C&N) meeting held on 24 and 25 November 2020 was to explore this topic with practitioners, industry representatives and experts. During the first day of the meeting, practitioners and experts discussed emerging conspiracy narrative trends, and how these intersect with extremism.
Participants offered practical insights on how to engage with individuals who either believe in conspiracy narratives or are prone to them. On the second day, participants analysed the Great Replacement and QAnon through the lens of the GAMMMA+ model and provided pragmatic recommendations to practitioners on how to counter conspiracy narratives. This paper summarises the discussions, highlights key points and recommends practical next steps. Read more