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David Shariatmadari – The truth is rushing out there: why conspiracy theories spread faster than ever

I remember reading about Final Fantasy VII, a movie I was really looking forward to. My initial reaction was disappointment that it was two years away – because by then we’d be under military control.” It was 2004, and Matthew Elliott was in deep. Elliott, from San Antonio, Texas, had first been drawn to conspiracy theories when he was 19, in the aftermath of 9/11. “It seemed unfathomable that we could be attacked,” he says today. In his quest to make sense of what had happened he came across the notorious “truther” movement, a current of opinion that lays blame for the atrocities at the door of the US government.

“The way most conspiracy theories are laid out, one thing always leads to another, so from there I became convinced that a ruling group called the New World Order orchestrated everything. This would all lead to martial law and a complete removal of our freedoms,” he says. A decade later, Elliott, now 34, is a “recovering” conspiracy theorist, having turned his back on a worldview that always posits some covert, powerful force acting against the interests of ordinary people. The change came gradually, but he thinks very differently now. “You can’t even get many of the 50 states to agree on things. Good luck convincing Europeans and Asians to get on board.”

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