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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam.

  • Tell me, Sam, do you think Neil Armstrong

  • really landed on the Moon

  • in 1969? I mean,

  • that must be fake news!

  • And who shot JFK? Surely the CIA

  • were involved? Unless it was

  • the giant lizards controlling

  • the government!

  • Oh dear! It looks like reading online

  • conspiracies has sent Neil down

  • the rabbit hole - an expression

  • used to describe a situation which

  • seems interesting and uncomplicated

  • at first but ends up becoming

  • strange, confusing and hard to escape

  • from. Luckily in this programme

  • we'll be hearing

  • some advice on how to talk

  • to people who've become convinced

  • by online conspiracies.

  • It seems that during times of crisis,

  • as people feel uncertain and fearful,

  • they actively

  • look for information to feel more secure.

  • Nowadays this information is often

  • found online, and while there are

  • reliable facts out there,

  • there's also a lot of misinformation.

  • Somebody who's the target of many

  • conspiracy theories is Microsoft's

  • Bill Gates and our

  • BBC fact checkers have been busy

  • debunking - or exposing - some of the

  • more bizarre accusations

  • made against him. But what strange

  • behaviour has Bill Gates been

  • accused of recently? That's

  • my quiz question for today. Is it:

  • a) being a member of the

  • Chinese Communist

  • Party?, b) being an alien lizard? or,

  • c) being involved in the

  • assassination of JFK?

  • They all sounds pretty silly to me but I'll

  • guess b) being an alien lizard.

  • OK, Sam, if you say so! We'll find out the

  • answer later. Now, I'm not the

  • only one who's

  • been doing some internet research.

  • Ever since the outbreak of the Covid

  • pandemic there's

  • been an avalanche of online conspiracies

  • linking Bill Gates to the coronavirus.

  • Here's Marianna

  • Spring, presenter of BBC World Service

  • programme, Trending, to tell us more:

  • The Microsoft founder is a rich

  • and powerful person and he's funded

  • research into vaccines

  • - that's why he's become a target.

  • Some of the claims are bonkers - that

  • he wants to

  • use the virus as a pretext to microchip

  • everyone in the world. Others say

  • a vaccine would actually

  • kill people rather than save their lives.

  • These ideas are without any evidence.

  • We should

  • treat them with the disdain they deserve.

  • Some conspiracies claim that Bill Gates

  • wants to implant microchips

  • in people and that he's

  • using the coronavirus as a pretext - a

  • pretend reason for doing

  • something that is used to

  • hide the real reason.

  • Claims like these are described as

  • bonkers - an informal way

  • to say silly, stupid or

  • crazy, and should therefore be treated

  • with disdain - disliking

  • something because you

  • feel it does not deserve your

  • attention or respect.

  • But while you might not believe

  • such bonkers theories yourself,

  • it's not hard to see how

  • people looking for answers can get

  • sucked down online rabbit holes.

  • So how would you deal some someone

  • spreading baseless conspiracies

  • about Covid vaccines

  • or Bill Gates? The BBC's Trending

  • programme spoke to

  • Dr Jovan Byford, senior psychology

  • lecturer with the Open University, about it.

  • He thinks it's important to separate

  • the conspiracy from the theorist.

  • The former, the belief,

  • we have to dismiss, but the latter, the

  • person, is more complex.

  • Here's BBC Trending's presenter,

  • Marianna Spring, again to sum up

  • Dr Byford's advice:

  • How do you talk to someone who's at risk

  • of being sucked into the rabbit hole? First,

  • establish a basis of understanding.

  • Approach them on their own terms

  • and avoid sweeping

  • dismissals or saying, 'you're wrong!'. Try

  • not to judge. And try to get to the bottom

  • of the often legitimate concern at the

  • heart of the conspiracy.

  • Present them with facts

  • and research. Try to do this neutrally.

  • You can't force anyone to change

  • their mind but

  • you can make sure they

  • have valid information.

  • While some conspiracies may

  • be harmless, others are more dangerous.

  • People thinking that vaccines

  • will kill them might worsen the

  • coronavirus situation worldwide,

  • so we need to get to

  • the bottom of these claims - discover

  • the real but sometimes hidden

  • reason why something

  • happens.

  • A good way to engage people in

  • discussion is to avoid sweeping

  • claims or statements

  • - speaking or writing about things in a way

  • that is too general and does not carefully

  • consider all the relevant facts.

  • And by doing so calmly and neutrally

  • you might persuade them to reconsider

  • the funny business

  • Bill Gates is supposedly involved with.

  • Ah yes, you mean our quiz question.

  • I ask you what Bill Gates

  • has recently been

  • accused of by conspiracy theorists.

  • And I said b) being an alien lizard.

  • But thinking about it now,

  • that seems pretty unlikely!

  • In fact, the answer was c) being a member

  • of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • OK. So today we've been hearing

  • advice on how to deal

  • with online conspiracy theories,

  • some of which are totally bonkers - silly,

  • stupid and crazy - or involve

  • a complicated

  • pretext - a pretend reason used

  • to hide someone's true motivation.

  • These can be treated with disdain - dislike

  • because they are unworthy

  • of our attention

  • or respect.

  • But with so many conspiracies online, it's

  • easy to get lost down the

  • rabbit hole - intrigued

  • by a situation which seems interesting

  • but ends up confusing and

  • hard to escape from.

  • It's important to get to the bottom

  • of these theories - discover the real

  • but hidden reason

  • behind them.

  • And to present people with facts,

  • avoiding sweeping - or over-generalised -

  • statements.

  • That's all for this programme.

  • Goodbye for now!

  • Bye bye!

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How to talk about conspiracy theories - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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