Skip to main content
online conspiracy theories

February 14, 2023

How Online Conspiracy Theories Led to This Man’s Mental Health Crisis

Ask Students: When did David Morrill start engaging with online conspiracy theories? What are some of the conspiracy theories Morrill came to embrace?

Share

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Pinterest
Share On LinkedIn
Email

Summary

David Morrill of Portland, Oregon, was involved in conspiracy theory communities online until a mental health crisis forced him to confront his beliefs. He talked with his father about how he found his way back to reality. Their conversation is part of our Student Reporting Labs series on misinformation, “Moments of Truth.”

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • Who the focus of this story, and what is his background?
  • When did David Morrill start engaging with online conspiracy theories?
  • What are some of the conspiracy theories Morrill came to embrace?
  • Why do embracing these theories start to effect Morrill’s mental health?
  • How did Morrill’s father help his son move away from conspiracy theories?

Focus Questions

At one point in this interview, David Morrill says working through puzzles of conspiracy theories felt like a “hero’s journey”? What do you think he meant by this? Do you think the feeling he describes is an attraction of many conspiracy theories?

Media Literacy: Why do you think this story was put together by high school reporters? What does that add to the storytelling?

Additional Learning

Conspiracy theories might spread like wildfire online, but conspiratorial thinking long predates the internet. Classrooms can use this lesson to discuss common conspiracy theories through U.S. history and compare then to now.

Lesson Plans for Digital Citizenship and Safety

Foster digital literacy and safety online and explore the algorithmic biases that can cause direct harm to young people online.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

Post a comment

Log in or sign up to post a comment.