EXCLUSIVE. 35% of French people say they believe in conspiracy theories, according to an Ifop study

19:25 March 26, 2022

More than one in two French people (52%) believes in at least one of the Russian theses about the origins of the war in Ukraine. This is one of the shocking figures released by the study carried out by Ifop on behalf of Reboot, an independent foundation that works to promote critical thinking. On the occasion of the press and media week at school, the latter wanted to measure the impact of the Kremlin’s propaganda and various conspiracy theses in France, after two years of pandemic. The results, published today, are alarming.

First lesson: “Despite the denials of the media, the authorities and all the work of verifying the information, a large number of French people are permeable to Putin’s speeches aimed at justifying the invasion of Ukraine”, explains François Kraus, the director of the political-news hub of Ifop. Examples? They would have 10% to believe that “Ukraine is currently governed by a junta infiltrated by neo-Nazi movements” ; 28% think that “Russian military intervention is supported by Russian-speaking Ukrainians who want to free themselves from persecution”“Although we could see well, stress probethat the latter did not receive the floats with flowers” – and 30% judging that Westerners “they encouraged Ukraine to request its integration into NATO”“while the demand comes rather from Ukraine and the European Union is slowing down”.

The most permeable to Putin’s speeches? Supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Éric Zemmour. “We observe a concordance between the voters and the discourse of the leaders who have for a long time relativized the responsibility of the Russians”explains François Kraus. Informational practices also play an important role: “Whoever listens to the radio is less sensitive to it [47 %] that those who use the Internet [59 %] oo, decisively, social networks for political information social networks [72 % !]. »

Read also – Covid-19: is the management of the crisis by the Government electoralist?

35% of French people believe in conspiracy theories

Second lesson: “The information war carried out by the Russians benefits from a favorable breeding ground linked to Covid-19”, analyze the probe. Today, more than a third (35%) of French people say they believe in conspiracy theories. As for these, the proportion is even higher among the voters of Marine Le Pen (51%) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (50%), the French who use social networks decisively (53%) or video sites online (57%). %) for political information, workers (49%) and non-graduates (47%).

“Fake news about Covid-19 persists despite official denials and scientific publicationslaments Helen Lee Bouygues, founder of Reboot, a former partner at McKinsey. Almost a third of the French continue to believe false information about Covid. » According to this study, 9% believe that vaccines contain electronic nanochips to track those vaccinated through 5G; 19% that its side effects caused tens of thousands of deaths; 16% that increase the risk of infertility in women.

Almost a third of the French continue to believe false information about Covid

Third lesson: “Some of those who believed in the anti-vaccine theses have gone on to support Putin’s policy. We see it in the speech of certain influencers like the rapper Booba”, deciphers François Kraus. Almost one in four French people believes in at least one of the anti-vaccine theories and in at least one of the arguments that justify the war in Ukraine. And the conspiracy is reinforced by the rise of parallel beliefs (59% of the French believe in a form of superstition or discipline of mancie).

Given these results, the founder of Reboot calls for strengthening education in critical reasoning. This was also one of the recommendations of the Bronner report on disinformation and conspiracy, presented in January to Emmanuel Macron: “Learning to reason is as important as learning to read, write or count. » Helen Lee Bouygues also advocates for better supervision of platforms: “The challenge is to further regulate the algorithms that enclose us in information bubbles. Like the Evin law for alcohol or tobacco, users of social networks must be warned of the risks involved and advertising directed at young people must be prohibited. »

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