Despite the plethora of information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, a small, but vocal minority of Canadians continue to push conspiracy theories. If someone you know buys into these unfounded theories, it can be difficult to approach the topic of vaccination in conversation.
Carmen Celestini from Ontario Tech’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism says you should avoid getting into a debate.
In this webinar I talk about the current Canadian Armed Forces hateful conduct policies and what we are developing through our project at the Centre on Hate, Bias, and Extremism. As the policy is currently more punitive in nature, we are recommending a policy that is more cultural in nature to ensure that our military personnel can learn how to recognize, combat, and be aware of hateful conduct and extremism through every step of their career within the military.
Dr. Carmen Celestini, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, said racism was heavily entrenched in the pandemic, due to misinformation and conspiracy theories (mainly online) about the origins of the COVID-19 virus and its spread into society.
“People, when they’re afraid or they have a sense of injustice or, a sense of loss of freedom, they tend to turn to conspiracy theories or ideas of something outside of themselves being in control,” said Celestini, who is also a post-doctoral fellow at The Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism.
Watch the full report by Emerald Bensadounon onGlobal News.
For my research on conspiracy theories, religion, and extremism I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on the social media platform Telegram. For a few weeks, a group named White Lives Matter (WLM) had been planning rallies and protests in the major cities in the United States and in Toronto, Canada. . . . The administrators or leaders were posting numerous comments about keeping the chat focused on the protests and excluding racial commentary or extremist opinions. There was a twofold rationale for these requests: a) media were monitoring the group chat and they wanted the focus to be on the protests and not providing any other information; and b) they wanted to appeal to the “normies” in the anti-lock down groups to join them. Normies is a term that QAnon adherents and anti-lock down supporters use to describe themselves.
In this in this episode of Shane Hewitt’s podcast, Shift, we talk about how individuals can be attracted to conspiracy theories. Looking specifically at the rise of conspiracy adherence throughout the COVID lock downs, Shane and I discuss the most prevalent conspiracies such as QAnon and The Great Reset, and how these theories help to “explain” what is occurring within the contemporary political upheavals.
Listen to this episode of Shift. My segment starts at 28:54.
For this special report by Global News, I was interviewed by Stewart Bell for my perspective on how family members can interact with individuals who have become adherents to conspiracy theories during the pandemic. Interwoven with tales of family turmoil and chaos I explain why conspiracy theories have become so prominent during the pandemic and their role in understanding the fears many people face during such turbulent times.
While some ideas are far-fetched, Carmen Celestini, a University of Waterloo academic who studies the history of conspiracy thought, says it may cause more harm to brush them off—legitimate fears often underpin these beliefs. “As a society, I think that it’s time for us to stop dismissing people who do believe in conspiracy theories.”
At the heart of the Great Reset Conspiracy, a theory that global elites are using the pandemic to establish a New World Order (NWO), is a confluence of fears brought forward by the pandemic, including economic, health, and the long-standing notion of elites enslaving humanity. The words of Prince Charles on June 3rd, 2020 to encourage the “resetting” of the global economy and humanity’s response to potentially cataclysmic climate change, did not evoke a movement, but instead served as the “proof” of the beginning of a New World Order (NWO). The words “the Great Reset” have now been uttered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and conspiracists have re-interpreted President Joe Biden’s campaign slogan “Build Back Better,” as proof that the global elites are using the pandemic as their opportunity to establish the NWO.
The most extreme congregations believe that the government is using the COVID scare to grab control of people’s religious freedoms and individual rights, says another religious studies scholar, Carmen Celestini.
“They actually refer to the masks we wear as face diapers.”