Language of conspiracy theories

Sleeping sheep, mainstream media, corona dictatorship - Language plays a decisive role in the spread of conspiracy narratives. It is through it that a conspiracy becomes perceptible in the first place, e.g. in social media. It is the interaction of different linguistic or rhetorical means that allow to speak of a kind of "language of conspiracy theories". The stronger the linguistic means, the more successful a conspiracy narrative can be spread. In the context of linguistic research on conspiracy theories, it was possible to determine which linguistic means occur particularly frequently, among others:

  • Relativizing words intended to trigger doubt
    Examples: The so-called pandemic. The alleged moon landing.
  • Debunking vocabulary,to make the conspiracy narrative seem believable
    Examples: It's obvious. It is absolutely obvious.
  • Word formations in which something is added to a neutral word in such a way as to clarify the conspiracy behind it
    Examples: lying-presscorona-dictatorship; state-terrorism
  • Metaphors intended to illustrate that powerful groups are acting conspiratorially
    Examples: "theater metaphors": we are being hoodwinked . The population are just puppets. It's all just theater. One mustlook behind the curtain.

The conspiracy theory bingo from klicksafe

Conspiracy Theory Bingo raises awareness of statements and linguistic devices that regularly appear in the dissemination of conspiracy narratives. How are such statements to be understood? What linguistic features can be discerned from them? We offer the conspiracy theory bingo with background information on individual statements, additional tips on dealing with conspiracy narratives, and a short interview with Dr. Sören Stumpf as an interactive PDF.