Signs That You’re Engaging With Conspiracy Theories, Conspiracy-Adjacent Behaviour, or Otherwise General Bad Faith Political/Social Evangelism

Warning Signs

  • Interspersed use of all caps exceeding one or two words (excluding headings obviously), up to and including a complete all caps post.
  • General bad spelling/grammar that can’t be reasonably pinned to being on a mobile device.
  • Attempts at ownership of the infinitive verb “are” (EG “The president *is* evil”).
  • Early and upfront attempts at labelling of something as a “lie” or “fact”. (Especially “FACT: [total lies]”).
  • Use of the pronouns “they”/”them” with little to no definitive direction of application.
  • Overly romanticised collectivist language (“The people”, “Our struggle”, “should be the goal of all women/men/Americans”)
  • Gratuitous use of exclamation marks.
  • Overestimating the reach and/or capabilities of powerful groups.
  • “It’s time to WAKE UP!”/”The Truth”
  • Seeing intent behind serendipity: “It’s no accident that…/This is by design”.
  • Annoying me.

Yellow Flags

  • Insistence that the thing being posited is not a conspiracy creating a personalised definition of a conspiracy so as to disqualify obviously conspiratorial tropes (EG “Conspiracies happen in the dark, they’re doing this in BROAD DAYLIGHT”).
  • Answering valid refutations and counter-arguments with bad evidence.
  • Asymmetric burdens of proof.
  • Quoting of literature out of reasonable context and in such a way as to indicate lack of familiarity with literature (“1984”, “Brave New World”, and “Fahrenheit 451” are quite common for this purpose).
  • Extreme credulity. (“A friend knew someone who worked at WTC, and HE said…”).
  • Aspirational victimhood.
  • Ignoring/anger at disagreement.
  • Speculating at hidden connections between powerful groups.
  • Labelling of nonbelievers/naysayers as belonging to some kind of “groupthink” demographic (EG “sheep”, “NPCs”).
  • Laugh reacts to replies (either using reaction buttons or emojis).
  • You know the person, and you think they’re an asshat.
  • Annoying me.

Red Flags

  • Blatant use of extremist political/religious rhetoric, dog whistles, or propaganda.
  • Apocalypse/Prepper “lifestyle” tips.
  • Hate speech.
  • Answering valid refutations and counter-arguments with *no* evidence.
  • Goalpost-moving and/or abandonment.
  • Obvious indications of a highly malignant narcissistic outlook (EG mindset akin to “I am awake and everybody is asleep.”)
  • Blatant mentions of known and well-document conspiracy theories (“Illuminati”, “Great reset”, “Q”, “9/11 was an inside job.”)
  • Verifiable and intentional lying/deception (including editing/deleting posts and/or modifying another’s post in photoshop).
  • Insistent clinging to verified misinformation. (Remember this old chestnut: “He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”)
  • REALLY annoying me.

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