How conspiracy theorists believe that ‘peer reviews’ are meant for academics to get together to conspire against the truth. Little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

First published in November 2020.

My wife, a historian, was having a debate with someone who claimed nothing had been published about lockdowns and the Black Death before 2020.

After patiently directing them to a number of sources, and engaging further, they told her they didn’t count as “they were peer reviewed”.

Apparently peer review is just a way for academics to hide the truth from people by reinforcing a consensus among themselves and blocking new ideas.  

Aside from this not reflecting any area of academia I have ever known, it highlights one of the issues with conspiracy theorists. At no conference I have ever attended has their been a consensus on anything.

Peer review can be an obstacle course. | Nick D Kim –

The problem is that conspiracy theorists need to believe that there is some great coming together of academics from multiple disciplines, and across the world, to hide the truth.  

They latch onto things they don’t understand to make spurious arguments, in no small part to boost their own ego in some misguided belief that they know more than experts.

At times this can be vaguely amusing to watch. At others though it can be distinctly dangerous.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Having people convinced that someone sitting in their mum’s basement writing a blog knows more than scientists puts people’s lives at risk.   Likewise groups such as QAnon, albeit for different ways.

Where it gets even more difficult though is that the more evidence they are shown which contradicts their delusions the more entrenched in those delusions they become.

The conspiracy becomes larger in an attempt to justify their beliefs.🔷

Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 25 November 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: FX Networks/20th Television.)

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