Moon Landing Faked!!!—Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories
New psychological research helps explain why some see intricate government conspiracies behind events like 9/11 or the Boston bombing.
Sander van der Linden
Notes that, historically, these believers have been disregarded as a fanatic fringe of people who collectively believe in implausible and unusual explanations of events.
Because of this view, many scholars dismiss the people and the theories as harmless, paranoid fantasy. However, this description does not suffice because it minimizes how widespread the beliefs are. For example, a US poll published this month reports that among Americans:
- 37% believe global warming is not factual
- 21% believe that the US is hiding evidence of alien life
- 28% believe that a secret global alliance exists with the agenda of ruling earth
Studies have shown that people who tend to believe in conspiracy theories do so because of high level thinking in the brain that tends to think in conspiratorial-like ways. This disproves previous thinking that believers are persuaded by the specific details of a precise story. These people tend to believe in conspiracy theories for some reason, regardless of the subject or the details.
The theories are supposed explanations of a significant event in society as part of an extensive, planned effort concocted by a a secret group of people.
In recent studies, believers in conspiracy theories have been linked to a rejection of science and scientific thinking. People buying into the theories are associated with feelings of powerlessness, a lack of agency, and an absence of control. Some scholars suggest that the theories are an attempt to compensate for this feeling of powerlessness, by explaining the world in a way that, to them, seems probable. This restores a sense of order to the mayhem of a complex social event.
When events are too intense or cause too much stress, some people find it emotionally and cognitively easier to believe in hoaxes and conspiracy theories, rather than the uncomfortable, difficult, and complex truth.
Darin's note: This is a very rich article with much data and research I could not include. The article deserves to be read in its entirety.
Interested? Click the title or image to read on.
Source is ScientificAmerican.com
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