Conspiracy believers commit a cognitive error based on 'degenerating research programs'
Conspiracy theorists hang onto theories despite the indicators you would expect to see if it were true not being there.
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People often believe in conspiracy theories because they hold on to degenerating research programs. If something is true, there are certain outcomes we can reasonably see along the way. Conspiracy theorists, when these outcomes do not appear, do not let go of the theories, holding on to the degenerating research programs instead of re-evaluating. For instance, the sheer amount of people that would be needed to keep a conspiracy theory secret over time is such that for many things, they could reasonably be expected to be revealed. However, theorists ignore this, instead continuing to cling to the degenerating research program.
[P1] If a hypothesis is true, there are certain outcomes we expect to see. [P2] Conspiracy theories do not have these outcomes. [P3] However, conspiracy theorists insist on holding onto the degenerating research program.