The beliefs that prompted hundreds of people to violently break into the U.S. Capitol earlier this month are not the kind that can be easily explained away.
Conspiracy theories exist across the political spectrum, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. But Republicans, he argued, have ignored the calls from some within the party – including, famously, the conservative writer William F. Buckley Jr. in the 1960s – to reject conspiratorial factions.
“This has been going on, on both the left and the right, but it’s been asymmetrical,” Clayton said.
Experts say rooting it out once it’s taken hold is a difficult, if not impossible, task. Clayton pointed to the current movement by social media outlets to remove accounts that peddle in conspiracy theories as a good first step.