I have come across an example of this today and my first thought was that here was an example of the anti-vaccination movement coming up with another conspiracy theory. However, the people involved were the same ones who were easily sucked in to the idea that the up-and-coming (as it then was) lunar eclipse and the “blood red” color of the Moon was a sign of the end times. They went quiet when it did not eventuate.
I couldn’t help wonder whether such people are really that gullible, but the answer depends on whether you ask it of the person who created the theory, or the people who believe it. I think that the people who create these theories are actually quite malevolent and seek to create pandemonium. But do the people who believe these theories know deep down that they are clinging to fiction?
I think there is another element at play that results in people repressing their doubts, whether the conspiracy be about vaccination or “the deep state”. The element is psychological and is about the need to belong. Confessing the elements of the conspiracy theory gives one instant acceptance in the group. Belonging to a group usually trumps facing the facts.
The strategy for dealing with this would not be to call the conspiracy bearer an idiot. That only reinforces their sense of non-acceptance. Rather it would be to make them feel totally accepted, despite their views, and gradually help them to see that they are free to reject the theory without losing acceptance by the group. Of course, I wouldn’t be adverse to occasionally dropping a clue to help them reason it out for themselves.