The world faces an “unprecedented” food crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused both severe job losses and major disruptions in food supply chains, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Chief Economist warns.
“When you have these severe job losses, or you have big lockdowns, that means that those people become vulnerable,” Arif Husain tells TIME.
An estimated 265 million people could go hungry in 2020, nearly double the 2019 figures, according to WFP’s projection in April.
As millions around the world are losing their jobs or seeing their incomes cut, it’s increasingly difficult for them to afford food, Husain says. At the same time, lockdown measures and trade restrictions are making it harder to transport food from where it’s produced to where it’s needed, resulting in food going to waste in the field.
From alien lizard rulers to shark attacks instigated by spies and elaborate multi-billion-dollar hoaxes, the menagerie of conspiracy theories in existence is so bizarre, the reasons some take off – and others vanish without a trace – may seem almost random. There’s even a conspiracy theory about how conspiracy theories were invented (in keeping with the standard conspiracy formula, the CIA were allegedly involved).
You might also like:
- Why it’s so hard to be rational about Covid-19
- How the news changes the way we think and behave
- The fear of coronavirus is changing our psychology
But there are patterns hidden in their strangeness. The latest thinking suggests that conspiracy theories are filtered by a kind of natural selection, which allows those that fit certain requirements to spread rapidly through our societies – while others are confined to the darkest corners of the internet.
What makes a conspiracy appealing to the masses? And is there anything they can teach us about the problems we face – and how to fix them?