Producing panic : an analysis of conspiracy theory rhetoric during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Freedom of speech., Conspiracy theories., Censorship., COVID-19 Pandemic 2020-, War of the worlds (Radio program)
In 1938, Orson Welles and his theatre group broadcasted an adaptation of War of the Worlds in the style of a breaking newsflash. The result produced a panic across America as millions believed they were under attack by an alien army. In 2020 during a global pandemic, millions of Americans turned to social media for news and updates, only to be the victims of conspiratorial posts that suggest the virus is part of a nefarious plot for world domination or to steal the Presidential election. In this thesis I will argue that the COVID-19 conspiracy theories share aspects of imagination, manipulation of authenticity, and I will demonstrate how each play on real epistemic ideas in order to create a false narrative. I will exhibit how these shared elements create a necessity for regulation of mass communication based on Benjamin Franklin’s own principles on free speech and censorship.
Andrews, Aaron, "Producing panic : an analysis of conspiracy theory rhetoric during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020" (2021). Theses. 358.