Where does it come from?
Teenagers are searching for their identity. Conspiracy theories and other convictions are an important building block in that process. Try to home in on why the youngster believes the conspiracy theory, and what this says about them and their process.
Start an open conversation
Listen to the student’s ideas and ask a lot of questions, like: “Can you explain that?” and “Why do you think that?”. Involve the rest of the class as well, for example by asking a general question like: “How could you verify whether this theory is true?”. Try to stimulate the student to look at the matter from the other side: “What would someone who doesn’t agree with you say?”.
Let them question your truth
It’s not easy for young people to question their own ideas. Be willing to do the same: let your students ask critical questions about your and each other’s opinions. That way, you teach them to be open to the doubts of others.
Focus on the attraction
Conspiracy theories divide the world into good and bad, into us and them. That’s one of the main draws of conspiracy theories: it feels good to be part of the ‘good guys’, who try to expose evil. Explain to your students why we like to believe in conspiracy theories.