Perhaps she's a friend or acquaintance. Maybe he's a relative or a co-worker. They could be in their 20s or their 70s, doesn't matter. What sets them apart from other friends and other acquaintances, other relatives or other co-workers, is that they have already succumbed to a belief in fake news and conspiracy theories. They believe stuff that you realize is batshit crazy.
The problem isn't that this woman or that man has gone a little bit spinny. The problem is that they're in plentiful company and, once they've gone down this path, their powers of deduction and critical thinking atrophy, the void being filled with an appetite for conspiracy fantasies. Collectively they stand as some sort of opposition to those who adhere to evidence-based reason. By the sheer weight of their numbers they assert a degree of faux credibility that is nonetheless marketable in such fields as commerce and politics.
Fake news and conspiracy theory are having a telling effect on something very important - climate science. These pre-conditioned minds are fertile ground for the denialist community. The Guardian reports that radical right denialist web sites such as Alex Jones, Breitbart, the Drudge Report and others are drawing in the feeble minded by the scores, possibly hundreds of millions.
The problem is not that these sites exist but that not enough people seem to know the difference between actual news, fake news, partisan opinion and conspiratorial bullshit. One of those people is the president-elect of the United States.
Either that, or people don’t even care to differentiate between fake and real, especially if what they read taps into their own prejudices.
Now, the decades of material produced by that climate science denial machinery is finding a new audience. Those talking points are being reheated and screamed, in FULL CAPS.
The lady I know is university-educated and retired. She's addicted to fake news and conspiracy theories. She spreads them around on her Facebook page. I'm told she brings them up in conversation at social gatherings which has already cost her many of her oldest friends. When she is confronted, she falls back with cover lines such as 'who knows' or 'it's important to hear both sides of the story.'