Unveiling the Duplicitous Nature of Mainstream Outlets: Exposing Conspiracies on Extreme Websites and Beyond | Owen Jones

**The Misinformation Problem: Examining the Scale and Impact**

**Survey Results Contradict Common Beliefs**

It may come as a surprise to many that a significant portion of the adult population in Britain has either participated in anti-vax protests or is willing to do so. Similarly, the claim that millions of people have attended demonstrations against the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) seems unlikely. These assertions are based on new polling research conducted by King’s College London in collaboration with the BBC. However, it is important to approach these findings with skepticism, as polling methods and question phrasing can greatly influence the results.

**Questionable Polling Methods**

The King’s College London study surveyed over 2,000 British adults using an online survey conducted by reputable polling company Savanta. However, a full breakdown of the polling methods has not been published, making it difficult to fully assess the validity of the results. Polling can provide valuable insights into public opinion, but it is essential to consider the methods employed and the specific questions asked.

For example, the study asked respondents whether they believed the World Economic Forum was using the Covid recovery as an opportunity to establish a totalitarian world government. Approximately one-third of participants indicated that they believed this to be true. However, when further questioned, only 55% of those individuals reported having encountered information that reinforced this belief. This raises concerns about the validity of the study’s claims regarding widespread belief in extreme conspiracy theories.

**Limitations of Anti-Misinformation Research**

The King’s College London study highlights some of the weaknesses of anti-misinformation research. It is possible that individuals who are particularly fascinated by misinformation are predisposed to believe that false narratives propagated by alternative media outlets are more prevalent than they actually are. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully analyze and interpret the findings of such studies.

**The “Hoax” Debate**

One noteworthy finding from the report is that nearly a quarter of Britons believe that Covid is a hoax. However, a previous survey by YouGov found that only 3% of respondents shared this belief. The disparity in results can be attributed to the different definitions of the term “hoax” used in the surveys. While YouGov specifically defined “hoax” as the belief that the virus does not exist and is a myth created by powerful forces, the King’s College London study employed a more general definition.

The ambiguity surrounding the term “hoax” in the study leaves room for various interpretations, such as the virus being intentionally released from a Chinese lab or accidentally leaked and covered up. These theories, while personally met with skepticism, are considered plausible by the Biden administration and have been discussed by the FBI. Thus, it is important to carefully consider and define terms to ensure accurate interpretation of survey results.

**The Danger of Misdirection**

One potential danger associated with anti-misinformation research is the tendency to inflate the scale of the problem by focusing on fringe ideas and publications. This distracts from the more significant influence that mainstream outlets have on public opinion. For instance, the study discusses the “great replacement theory” and its association with alternative media outlets; however, it fails to mention the mainstream UK-based publication, the Spectator, which has published articles supporting this theory.

Similarly, the study highlights the belief held by approximately one-third of the adult population that 15-minute cities are an attempt to restrict personal freedom and increase surveillance. This theory has gained traction, in part, due to coverage by mainstream outlets such as Mail Online, the most-read online newspaper in Britain. Thus, it is essential to address the role of mainstream publications in spreading misinformation rather than solely focusing on fringe sources.

**Challenging Established Institutions**

Examining the role of mainstream media in disseminating misinformation presents a more challenging task than addressing fringe outlets. Mainstream publications are diverse, making it difficult to pinpoint specific narratives or sources of misinformation. Moreover, individuals who embrace false conspiratorial beliefs tend to reject supposedly reputable newspapers and broadcasters, making it challenging to study the influence of mainstream outlets.

Although it is acknowledged that mainstream publications play a significant role in perpetuating false narratives, anti-misinformation efforts often overlook their impact. By attributing the problem solely to new internet-based media, the focus is diverted from the mainstream outlets that have a more substantial influence on public opinion. Tackling misinformation effectively requires scrutinizing and challenging the largest media institutions, even if it means confronting more significant players in the field.

In conclusion, while the King’s College London study provides insights into the prevalence of conspiracy theories and misinformation, it is crucial to approach the findings with caution. Polling methods and question phrasing greatly impact the results, and anti-misinformation research must be careful not to inflate the scale of the problem or deflect attention from mainstream outlets. A comprehensive approach that examines the influence of established institutions is vital in combating misinformation effectively.

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