David Gilbert

Disinformation journalist: Wired and formerly Vice

Conspiracy Theories: The Seduction, Spread, and Real-World Consequences

Unveiling the Dangers Lurking Behind Fringe Beliefs

The Fatal Attraction to Fringe Ideologies

In the recent episode of "Some Dare Call It Conspiracy," our guests spoke about the lethal hold conspiracy theories can exert on believers. David Gilbert recounted the tragic fate of individuals who, under the guidance of radical groups, refuse medical assistance, leading to preventable deaths. It is the allure of feeling 'awakened' or 'enlightened' to supposed hidden truths that fuels their rejection of established knowledge, even at the cost of their lives.


The Rise and Reach of QAnon

QAnon has evolved from a fringe conspiracy into a burgeoning movement, infiltrating mainstream politics and social thought. The episode delves into its origin on internet forums and how figures like Ron and Jim Watkins allegedly shaped its direction. Their narrative, rich with election denialism and cryptic 'Q drops,' illustrates how conspiracy theories can transform into shared delusions, impervious to evidence or reason.


The Enduring Lure of the "Sovereign Citizen"

David Gilbert and Brent Lee discuss the worrying trend of the 'sovereign citizen' concept, from the outrageous claims of figures like David Lester Strait to individuals disputing property ownership and responsibilities. They share candid experiences on how these conspiracy theories lead to real-life confrontations, often burdening authorities and innocent citizens alike.


The Viral Nature of Conspiracies

The rapid spread of conspiracy theories in the digital era was highlighted, underscoring how easily misinformation finds a home in the hearts and minds of those seeking simple answers to complex problems. Brent Lee and David Gilbert lament the societal inclination towards fanciful explanations while genuine issues like the housing crisis demand attention.


The Dangerous Health Menace

A somber tale was shared about Danny Lemoy, a man who zealously promoted ivermectin with dire consequences. Despite tragic outcomes, believers continue to follow harmful health protocols spurred on by conspiracy. The podcast warned against the perils of such unregulated self-medication and the responsibility to safeguard public health.


The Personal Cost of Confronting Conspiracies

David Gilbert opened up about the personal challenges of his work. Constant immersion in disinformation takes its mental toll. To combat this, he discussed the significance of digital detoxes and the importance of disengaging from work stressors to maintain mental well-being—a pertinent reminder in our always-connected world.


Embracing Empathy amid the Conspiracy Craze

The episode concluded on a contemplative note, with Gilbert expressing concern over the growing tendency to dehumanize and celebrate the misfortunes of those entangled in harmful conspiracy beliefs. The hosts reflected on the need for empathy and the consequences of lacking it when critically assessing the fallout from these beliefs gone awry.


The episode of "Some Dare Call It Conspiracy" with guest David Gilbert offered an in-depth look at the mechanisms and impacts of conspiracy theories. By dissecting these ideas' appeal, their ability to reshape political and social landscapes, and the real-world harm they induce, the podcast stands as a sobering examination of our society's confrontation with truth and fiction.


Contact David Gilbert


Freeman on the land, sovereign citizen, COVID-19, anti-vax, conspiracy theories, QAnon, Alex Jones, Trump supporters, election denialism, General Flynn, General McChrystal, child abuse, blood libel, disinformation, Myanmar, mainstream media, online forums, great replacement theory, EU, multiculturalism, prion disease, ViCE News, far right, Cambridge Analytica, ivermectin, Jay Widener, archons, Schadenfreude, Ashley Babbitt, disinformation fighting strategies.



00:00 Focused on Facebook, QAnon, and extremism.

08:45 False information fueled violence against Rohingya on Facebook.

13:14 Skepticism toward QAnon turned into serious coverage.

18:14 QAnon originated on 4chan, moved to 8chan.

25:26 Consensus is two different cues squashes powerful ideas.

32:36 Widespread conspiracy theories worry me, infecting media.

34:33 Concern about growing prevalence of local conspiracies.

41:05 Skeptical of people pushing you to research.

47:22 Electricity companies charge more, get insurance money.

53:58 People seeking answers and certainty during COVID.

55:10 Adopting anti-vax and COVID denial views.

01:03:16 Admins share details; unclear cause of death. Channel persists.

01:07:36 Ivermectin use and public perception discussed briefly.

01:15:03 Questioning personal beliefs, empathy, and self-reflection.

01:19:55 Playing football is the best stress release.

01:22:06 Struggling to disconnect from work and technology.