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Dear Graham Norton: 'My son's belief in conspiracy theories is harming our relationship'

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Graham says: 'You really need to nip this in the bud' Credit: Alamy

Dear Graham

My son is 48 years old, with a good education, and apparently of sound mind. However, he has started developing some weird opinions about the world – that the Nice terrorist attacks were faked, for example.​ ​

All his “knowledge” is garnered from the internet – he has not read a newspaper in years. It’s really beginning to spoil our relationship as there is a tinge of condescension and even bullying to his assertions that my eyes “haven’t been opened yet”. I just keep quiet and steer towards another subject when he tries to convince me of the latest conspiracy theory.

I fear I cannot persuade him that he’s making himself ridiculous – but how can I keep our relationship going while hanging on to my “round-earth” convictions?

Jackie, Norfolk

Graham says: 'Don't just dismiss his views' Credit: Andrew Crowley

Dear Jackie

Poor you. Bad enough to read about the post-truth world where people have had “enough of experts” and greedily consume fake news on the internet – but you have one of them in your life! You really need to nip this in the bud before your son ends up living in a hole in your garden wearing a tinfoil hat.

Conspiracy theorists delight in swatting away irritating facts so they don’t have to engage with reality.Graham Norton

Don’t just dismiss his views. Engage with him and ask to read the articles he has swallowed whole. Check what websites published them and then use Google to establish if they are credible or not. Of course “truth” may not be enough for your son. Conspiracy theorists delight in swatting away irritating facts so they don’t have to engage with reality. Personally I find it almost touching that people like your son have such confidence in governments and big corporations. Given what an enormous mess they tend to make of the most basic of tasks it seems quite unlikely that they would be capable of faking a moon landing or keeping alien contact a tightly guarded secret.

If you find you cannot pop your son’s delusional balloon then simply smile and nod. Wine also helps, and that is a fact.

More Agony

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