Emoji - teorija zarote. Vir: Adobe Stock
Pri teoriji zarote gre za prepričanje, da vplivne sile v zakulisju na skrivaj s slabimi nameni manipulirajo z nekaterimi dogodki ali razmerami. Vir: Adobe Stock

UNESCO guidelines: How to identify conspiracy theories

Can you spot a conspiracy theory?

What do you think, for example, about the theory that aliens direct politicians? … or that Elvis is still alive? … or that the white streaks in the blue sky are poisonous?

Conspiracy theories, like fake news, divide society and instill mistrust.

UNESCO, the leading organization of the United Nations that promotes media literacy, has devised guidelines on how to recognize conspiracy theories and talk to those who believe in them, says Barbara Urbanija from the Slovenian UNESCO office. She translated the guidelines into Slovenian along with the Slovene organization MOST.

Barbara Urbanija. Source: personal archive
Barbara Urbanija. Source: personal archive

Why did you decide to translate the guidelines? 

Fake news and conspiracy theories are a major threat to democracy and can cause real harm to people.

Many people believe in conspiracy theories. As many as 60 percent of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory; public opinion surveys in Slovenia also show similar results.

However, those who have been taught what conspiracy theories are, and how to recognize them, are much less susceptible to them.

UNESCO and the European Commission have, therefore, connected with experts, and together they have prepared educational posters.

How do conspiracy theories relate to media literacy?

The more media-literate people understand how the mechanics of conspiracy theories work, the less often they will fall into their trap.

Young people become interested in conspiracy theories around the age of 14, so they need to be taught, at or before that time, how to respond to them.

How do you address someone who believes in one of the conspiracy theories? 

Above all, we must be empathetic in conversation and never judgemental.

Two Erasmus+ logos and disclaimer

A person who believes in a conspiracy theory is often very scared; persuasion to the contrary will probably have no effect.

But we can listen and ask detailed questions in order to persuade the person to think for themself – whether or not their arguments really make sense. 

Points to Consider

  1. Do you know someone who believes in conspiracy theories?
  2. Can you talk to them about it?
  3. What do you do when you want to identify a conspiracy theory?


The original version of this article was published on 1st July.

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Merljak Zdovc je urednica Časorisa. Je zelo radovedna in rada spoznava ljudi in njihove zgodbe. Veliko piše in včasih posname tudi kakšen video. Vesela bo, če ji pišeš.


Svetina is an English translator, EFL educator, and graphic designer. She is an American who has lived in Slovenia since 2008. She loves hiking and traveling with her family.

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