argument top image

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? Show more Show less
Back to question

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?

Social factors make people believe in conspiracy theories Show more Show less

We don’t believe in conspiracy theories in a vacuum; rather, there are social factors to belief.
< (3 of 5) Next position >

Peer pressure makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists are often part of communities which socially reward them for believing.
< (1 of 2) Next argument >

The Argument

Particularly with the creation of an online conspiracy community, people have a social incentive to believe in conspiracies. People who are socially isolated may experience a desire to find meaning.[1] They may then find online conspiracy theory communities and latch onto them as social communities. As conspiracy theories become more community-based, it is entirely possible that believers could become part of one of these communities and not want to suffer the social penalty that not believing conspiracy theories may then introduce.[2]

Counter arguments

There is no social element to conspiracy theories, as, in reality, people would gain social capital if they disavowed conspiracy theories.[3] Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories are not rewarded, but socially punished and made to feel like outcasts.

Premises

[P1] People may join conspiracy theory communities to overcome social isolation. [P2] They then have a social incentive to continue to believe in conspiracy theories.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] There is more of a social incentive to not believe in conspiracy theories.

References

  1. https://www.princeton.edu/~acoman/Publications_files/The%20Dark%20Side%20of%20Meaning%20Making-Graeupner%20&%20Coman.pdf
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ssqu.12309
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/004931032002001

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more ↑

Discuss

This page was last edited on Monday, 16 Mar 2020 at 17:17 UTC

Explore related arguments