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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 because they’re true Show more Show less

The reason that people subscribe to conspiracy theories is simple: because they’re true.
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Conspiracy theories are often heavily researched

Conspiracy theories are often backed up by significant amounts of research and written academically.
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Context

The Argument

People are inclined to believe conspiracy theories because they are extremely well researched and likely to be written in academic language.[1] Conspiracy theories will have significant evidence to back them up, because they know there is a perception of conspiracy theories as inherently untrue. Therefore, the evidence and writing style are often very academic and trustworthy.

Counter arguments

It is true that conspiracy theories have been found to have significant amounts of evidence and scholarly language. However, this does not make them true or trustworthy. For instance, Joseph McCartney released a book during the Red Scare that had 314 footnotes.[2] This made the work seem more reputable. However, the footnotes did not actually back him up - they were simply there to give the appearance of evidence. This is common among conspiracy manifestos. Evidence quality will be very low, consisting mostly of factoids, while conflicting evidence is dismissed completely.[3] It is also easy for conspiracy writers to simply appear reputable by continuously referencing each other.[4] Additionally, even if evidence is legitimate, it will often lead to extremely tenuous conclusions.[5] While the way conspiracy theories are written may make them seem legitimate, this is by design, rather than because they are actually true.

Framing

Premises

[P1] Conspiracy theories are often written academically and well researched. [P2] Therefore, conspiracy theories are trustworthy and should be believed.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] This does not mean conspiracy theories are trustworthy - the way they are written is a tool to try and make them seem believable.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/
  2. https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=9780520204720&i=stripbooks&linkCode=qs
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zygo.12321
  4. https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520276826/a-culture-of-conspiracy
  5. https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=16582

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This page was last edited on Monday, 16 Mar 2020 at 16:14 UTC