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SA, for me, Node descends to conspiracy theory only at your point “conspiracy theory no. 3”, by writing: “Do you believe the figures released as coronavirus deaths in the UK and many other countries, including the ones you mentioned – Italy, Spain, Germany, the USA – are deliberately and hugely exaggerated?”.
At this point Node leaps right past a theory about a conspiracy. Node’s alleged conspiracy here expands beyond reasonable limit, to include swathes of scientists in multiple fields knowingly submitting and peer-reviewing fraudulent papers, huge numbers of doctors and medical staff claiming that their hospitals are overloaded five to twenty times beyond their usual capacity, vast numbers of employees in scores of national and hundreds of local governments knowingly inflating statistics, entire staffs of local newspapers in multiple countries suddenly printing twenty times more obituaries than they normally would, mayors and priests of small towns in Italy, on and on and on, countless thousands of ordinary people who usually just do their jobs but who now suddenly start acting like CIA officers on a mission. Why would they start doing this, or how would the “puppetmasters” force them to?
In a conspiracy theorist’s mind, all these ordinary people are either sheeple, acting this way just because they’ve been told to, or agents of the conspiracy, knowingly manipulating the sheeple around them. Stupid sheeple and lying agents – quite the opposite of honest, upright, perspicacious conspiracy theorists, fearless truth-tellers and guardians of wisdom.
And this is what drives conspiracy theory; feelings of self-superiority over “the masses”.