Harmful conspiracy myths and effective P/CVE countermeasures

RAN expert online-meeting, 28 September 2020

Download the paper here

By Alexander Ritzmann and Maximilian Ruf

„Conspiracy theories, which should rather be called conspiracy myths due to their anti- or pseudoscientific narratives, continue to pose a key challenge for the prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE) in Europe, since they play vital roles within extremist ideologies and recruitment and radicalisation.

In order to efficiently plan P/CVE interventions, it is necessary to understand which conspiratorial narratives could constitute a danger to the individuals believing in them and, by extension, to society. Fixed indicators are difficult to define, but three main types of narratives, when believed in combination, may help practitioners identify if a person is on a potentially dangerous path:

  1. Us vs Them: “We are superior, only we know the truth!”
  2. Them vs Us: “We are victims, we are being threatened by evil forces!”
  3. Apocalyptic dimension: “The threat to us is existential, hence violence is legitimate!”“

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