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Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? Show more Show less

Studies show that the majority of people believe in at least one conspiracy theory. They’re becoming increasingly pervasive in our everyday lives, with it not being uncommon to hear conspiracy theories coming from commanders-in-chief. Why would someone believe something that others perceive as crazy?

People believe conspiracy theories as a cognitive reaction Show more Show less

The reasons we believe in conspiracy theories are rooted deep in our subconscious.
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Believing in conspiracy theories is comforting

It is more comforting to believe things are planned than being due to chance.
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Context

The Argument

On a psychological level, it is comforting to think of events as part of a wider plan rather than down to chance.[1] If we stop to think about it, the complexity and randomness of the world is all-encompassing and terrifying. It is much more calming to think of the world as predictable.[2] This is even more common in the modern age, in which people feel increasingly removed from any sort of community or belief, leading to feelings of anxiety. These anxieties can be calmed by conspiracy theories. For many it is cognitively pleasurable to see seemingly terrifying world events (such as 9/11) as part of an ongoing global conspiracy. This is the same instinct that has led people to turn to religion - a fear of the randomness of life and our corresponding mortality. People are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories simply because the alternative is terrifying.

Counter arguments

Framing

Premises

[P1] It is scary to think of world events as random and complex. [P2] It is more comforting to think that things are part of a wider conspiracy.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ssqu.12309
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science/article/is-belief-in-conspiracy-theories-pathological-a-survey-experiment-on-the-cognitive-roots-of-extreme-suspicion/4EA665C2D2AF60F3165243D4177F474E

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This page was last edited on Monday, 16 Mar 2020 at 16:21 UTC