Why do traffic reduction schemes attract so many conspiracy theories?

(The Guardian, 10 Jan 2023) Plan to restrict car journeys in Oxford becomes lightning rod for fears of global assault on freedoms.

Jordan Peterson is rarely lacking in strong opinions, but even by the standards of the Canadian psychologist turned hard-right culture warrior, this was vehement stuff: a city is planning to lock people in their local districts as part of a “well-documented” global plot to, ultimately, deprive them of all personal possessions.

Where was this? Not Beijing, or even Pyongyang. It was Oxford. In the days since Peterson’s tweet – viewed 7.5m times – officials in the city have fielded endless queries from around the world asking why they are imposing a “climate lockdown”. Inevitably, there have also been some threats.

Repeated insistence that Peterson’s version of events is nonsense has done little to stem the tide. In the week or so since, large numbers of people, often from the far right or with links to other conspiracy theories, have leapt aboard.

Oxford’s traffic plan, they insist, is the first step in a global plot led by – depending on who you listen to – the World Economic Forum (WEF) or the UN, designed to strip people of their fundamental rights and personal possessions in the name of the environment.

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The Guardian, 10 Jan 2023: Why do traffic reduction schemes attract so many conspiracy theories?