Coronavirus, ‘Plandemic’ and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

John Cook, Sander Van Der Linden, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K H Ecker

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site


The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral. Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times. The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations.

The video is rife with misinformation and conspiracy theories. Many high-quality fact-checks and debunkings have been published by reputable outlets such as Science, Politifact and FactCheck.

As scholars who research how to counter science misinformation and conspiracy theories, we believe there is also value in exposing the rhetorical techniques used in “Plandemic.” As we outline in our Conspiracy Theory Handbook and How to Spot COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, there are seven distinctive traits of conspiratorial thinking. “Plandemic” offers textbook examples of them all.

Learning these traits can help you spot the red flags of a baseless conspiracy theory and hopefully build up some resistance to being taken in by this kind of thinking. This is an important skill given the current surge of pandemic-fueled conspiracy theories.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Conversation Trust (UK) Limited
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Memory
  • Covid19


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