Top tips for talking to people about conspiracy theories

Tips to help you have a better conversation


6/24/2021 2 min read

How to talk to people who believe in conspiracy theories or misinformation?

Whenever there is a family or friends gathering happens there will be discussions on a variety of topics. Often, the language at the table deviates towards politics, life problems, or conspiracy theories. There is probably at least one person in every family who believes that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a human invented myth and tries to prove to everyone that we are constantly deceived by the authorities.

Often, such speeches and conflicting beliefs can lead to barns at the table. Therefore, it is very important to know how to talk to such people so that they become more open to consider and maybe even change their beliefs.

We invite you to read 7 tips on how to talk to people about conspiracy theories and misinformation.

1. Speak privately. Do not confront people in public as this creates social pressure. Even if you are respectful, a person can defend himself to avoid humiliation. Rather, try talking in a private space where the person feels safe and calm.

2. Don’t be aggressive. Try to have a positive, trusting dialogue. Show respect so that the other person does not feel threatened and unwilling to defend themselves.

3. Ask questions. Ask questions with a real tone of curiosity to show that you really want to understand the other person’s point of view. You need to signal your openness to encourage the other person to be open as well. It will also help to better understand their beliefs - not all conspiracy theories are the same.

4. Find what you agree on. Many conspiracy theories were inspired by a grain of truth. Recognize these real elements (if any) to find points of trust.

5. Acknowledge their feelings. Although conspiracy theories seem to be based on arguments, the reasons people believe in them are usually psychological. For example, they may feel the need for certainty, control, belonging, or meaning. That’s why facts alone can’t usually change someone’s beliefs. You also have to pay attention to the feelings that push a person towards a conspiracy theory.

6. Avoid scientific jargon. The use of complex scientific terms does not help to understand and can repel the audience. Try to find a simpler way to express the same idea.

7. Repeat what is true. Clearly state the truth and repeat it regularly. Repetition is the basis of familiarity, familiarity makes something more likeable and convincing.