Journalist Damien Thompson defines counterknowledge as misinformation packaged to look like fact. It is manifested in multiple formats including conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and pseudohistory. It’s tough for adults to do the research necessary to insure that they aren’t taken in by counterknowledge, so it’s no surprise that students struggle with figuring out what’s true and what isn’t.
In this activity, you will be introduced to the concept of counterknowledge and then work with one or two other students to decide why a specific conspiracy theory is an example of misinformation packaged to look like fact.
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- Record your work in this file.
Group Conspiracy Theory—JFK’s Assassination
- New JFK assassination conspiracy theories: The grassy knoll, Umbrella Man, LBJ and Ted Cruz’s dad
- What Physics Reveals About the JFK Assassination
- Most People Believe in JFK Conspiracy Theories
- 10 Conspiracy Theories About the JFK Assassination
Independent Conspiracy Theory 1 – Holocaust Deniers
- Combatting Holocaust Denial
- Mel Mermelstein Survived Auschwitz, Then Sued Holocaust Deniers in Court
- How Holocaust Denial Works
- Taking on Holocaust Denial Point by Point
Independent Conspiracy Theory 2 – UFOs
- What We’ve Learned From 60 Years of U.S.-Funded UFO Probes
- Do Records Show Proof of UFOs?
- UFO Story
- What Exactly are UFOs?
Independent Conspiracy Theory 3 – Bigfoot
- Why Do So Many People Still Want to Believe in Bigfoot?
- Is There Any Proof that Bigfoot Is Real?
- How Chasing Bigfoot Can Lead to Actual Science
- So Why Do People Believe in Bigfoot Anyway?
Independent Conspiracy Theory 4 – The Earth is Flat
- Flat Earthers: Belief, Skepticism, and Denialism
- Looking for Life on a Flat Earth
- What Would Happen if the Earth were Actually Flat?
- Flat or round? What one author learned about believers of the flat-Earth theory
- Conspiratorial Thinking: sample lesson from the News Literacy Project (video)
- Is that a fact? podcast from the News Literacy Project
- Key Questions to Ask When Analyzing Media Messages
- Hot Topics: Fake News and Misinformation: Identifying Fake News