Woman in facemask walking past graffitied wall in MadridA woman wears a protective mask and gloves as she walks past graffiti which reads ‘to be, to stay and to last’ (L), ‘Covid19. Government Weapon’ (C) and ‘Paranoia’ (R) in Madrid center on March 15, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. | Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

In the whirlwind of news about the novel coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to figure out what’s a scam or rumor and what’s vital information. The ways in which the COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has transformed the way we work and keep ourselves entertained already feels unreal.

To understand why there’s so much misinformation out there — for example, that the virus was purposely created in a lab — The Verge spoke with John Cook, a cognitive science researcher at George Mason University and one of the authors of a new Conspiracy Theory Handbook. A big fan of acronyms, Cook came up with a handy one to recognize when you or someone you know might be headed down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole and how to…

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