Hey, did you hear about this? I heard that bunch of democrats actually found the cure for the Coronavirus, but they're holding onto it because they actually want Republicans to die. That time they rejected the stimulus package? It's because they wanted to buy time to put more chemicals in the water. To turn the frogs gay and make our children transgender. Or have you heard about the time that a cure was found, but Big Pharmacy wanted to wait it out a bit longer? Or did you hear about the time Trump was going to give masks out only to political supporters? Or how China wanted to weaken other countries by creating a virus and unleashing it unto the world? Conspiracy theories as far as I can tell. But so what? What's the harm? Conspiracy theories are serious. They make figuring out what is true and what isn't harder because we have to sort through more information to figure out what's true and why. But what happens when it's related to politics? What happens when conspiracy theories become politicized by one political party? Siddiqui looks at this, and while in the context of Pakistan, it is worth noting we see the same thing in the U.S. "In authoritarian states, emerging democracies, and well-established democracies alike, alternative accounts that contest official state narratives are common. Why do people believe such accounts even in the absence of supporting evidence? While this question has been explored in the United States, relatively little research has assessed it in other contexts. Through a survey experiment carried out in Pakistan, this article tests the impact of cues by political parties on belief in such conspiracy theories. The results provide evidence in favor of partisan cueing: When alternative narratives are endorsed by political parties viewed favorably by the respondent, they are more likely to be believed. I suggest that political parties are able to capitalize on misinformation and a lack of trust in official institutions for tactical advantage. Results differ by subgroup: Higher income and urban respondents are swayed more by their own party source than are lower income and rural individuals." https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1354068817749777 If you want access to the full article, let me know and I can see what I can do. But basically political parties have a tactical incentive and advantage if they can mobilize people on conspiracy theories. Now why is this deadly? Imagine someone breaking social distancing because of a conspiracy theory. It's pretty hard to convince someone to take the right action, when a political party has a vested interest in going against the advice of people who know better. People will die because of this, and that's just the immediate affect. Think long term damages to the economy, family life and security, social stability, future strains on hospitals. All because political parties wanted an electoral advantage. I didn't share this to lecture to people, but to give a warning. When you post something, you need to trust it. You need to believe that what you are posting is factual, and that it will save people's lives. When you make conjecture against the advice of public officials, you better make sure you're not being lead to beliefs by political machines, but because it actually is true. Because if you don't, then you need a mirror to find who to blame for everything that is happening. Know before you post. It might save a life.