RE-DACT – Research on Disinformation and Conspiracy Theories

Our ability to create a correct understanding of the world, especially concerning important topics and issues, is of immense importance in relation to our functioning as individuals. Moreover, it is also of importance, in relation to the functioning of social institutions and ultimately democracy, that citizens can create a correct understanding of the world they live in.

Disinformation and conspiracy theories are in no way new phenomena but the development of the internet and social media in recent decades has resulted in an exponential rise in the exposure to, and spreading of, disinformation and conspiracy theories.

At an individual level, these phenomena may influence health related decisions (e.g., not accepting a certain medical treatment) as well as environmentally behaviours (such as not believing in reports of climate change) and therefore not reducing actions that may negatively affect climate and environment. On a societal level, disinformation and conspiracy theories are related to, for instance, decreasing trust in politicians, mainstream media, social institutions, pharmaceutical companies and health care, and decreasing probability of participation in democratic processes (such as voting).

Furthermore, disinformation and conspiracy theories are associated with increasing polarisation in society, which may lead to increasing group antagonism and prejudice (and in the long term, aggression and violence). The increased spreading of and exposure to disinformation, alternative truths and conspiracy theories constitute a vast global societal challenge.

Interdisciplinary research

RE-DACT has been formed with the purpose of developing and conducting interdisciplinary research within this field, and to also offer education to organisations on the topic of disinformation and conspiracy theories.