1. Stay calm

It can be a source of considerable frustration when a relative at the dinner table tries to add conspiracy theories to the conversation. While it's important to refute false allegations, we need to consider that the opinion bubbles created by social media affect everyone, and your uncle may not be getting the same information as you.

It is important to remain calm and approach the situation not as a conflict, but as a clash of opinions. The other person may say things that are a little outrageous to you, but a sudden retaliation and aggressive tone will only aggravate the situation.

2. Don't be dismissive

If we immediately book a friend or relative as a conspiracy theorist, we leave little room for a debate between us.

By immediately dismissing the other's point of view, we only make it harder to reach a common ground.

Whatever lies we are confronted with, the important thing is to respect the views of the other person. After all, they may believe certain theories precisely because they are frightened of the truth.

3. Get them to think critically

Dedicated believers in pseudo-news often justify their claims by saying that they "looked it up on the Internet".

The only problem with this is that they base their own research on the claims of sensationalist sites or treat the claims of one-sided media organs as facts. Even if they do find a source, which is from a respected researcher, it may not reflect reality.

4. Ask questions

Of course, it is important to correct the person you are talking to, but constantly bombarding them with facts is not the best way to do it. Ask questions that will make them see the falsity of their claims.

Do their arguments contradict each other?

Have they considered opposing ideas?

It's easier to convince someone if they come to the right conclusion themselves and even believe that they have discovered the truth.

5. Don't expect an instant miracle

It won't take five minutes to convince our confident friends in the pseudo-news community that they are not necessarily right. Often, deep beliefs need to be slowly overridden, and this action requires a lot of patience in order to break down the wall built by misinformation. In the course of a conversation, we may not be able to convince the people we know that they believe in utterly untrue statements. Gaining awareness and understanding what the reality is, is a long process for all of us.

However, whether real or contrived the news is, all experts agree, that we should not give up after the first try.

Source: BBC, How should you talk to friends and relatives who believe conspiracy theories? Marianna Spring, 2020

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