About this sample
About this sample
Words: 861 |
5 min read
Published: Mar 18, 2021
Words: 861|Pages: 2|5 min read
Studies conducted by Thomas Ståhl of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Jan-Willem van Proojien of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have revealed a mystifying result as so many study respondents who scored high on all of the rational and intellectual metrics subscribe to disproven theories. Examples of conspiracy theories include the belief that pharmaceuticals are behind disease pandemics, intentionally spreading diseases, human civilization was formed by extraterrestrials, mass shootings and terrorism were staged schemes of the US government, and the Hillary “Pizzagate” trafficking scandal.
Despite the tons of scientific evidence against conspiracy theories and the paranormal, a number of Americans still believe them. 20% believe vaccines cause autism, 37% think global warming is a joke, 42% believe in ghosts, and 41% in mystic readings and analysis. Indeed, highly educated people in the real world fall for conspiracy theories that you would imagine they would snub as rubbish.
A conspiracy theory can be described as a claim that cannot be proven because the truth is being covered up by a group of people bent on carrying out malicious intents, and hence the original claim is true. This deep-seated conviction still persists despite the present-day access to information that can expose these notions. Experts believe these stem from some psychological mechanisms caused by evolutionary processes.
According to Christopher French, a professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, the appeal of conspiracy theories may take place from the way we process information. Once the theories take root, cognitive biases are fueled and further intensified. People tend to accept as true data those that support what they already believe and disregard those that disagree with their beliefs. The reports may be full of inconsistencies but people who are inclined to uncover proof of cover-up will concentrate on these inconsistencies to strengthen their claims. The internet hugely contributes to transforming and spreading these controversies.
People cling stubbornly to conspiracy theories conning many naïve individuals into believing them as well. Why is this so? The following are the most probable explanations.
Most of the time, conspiracy beliefs are not based on coherent analysis. Although people are adept at finding significant patterns and their connections to the circumstances around them, there are some instances when their judgments are way off. These happen especially when events are beyond their control.
In this modern world, manic-alertness may result in over-interpreting visual and auditory manifestations that often lead to fanatic conspiracy theories. For example, the flickering of the streetlight outside the window every time the coffee mug is lifted may be interpreted as suspicious scrutiny of CIA. Connecting the dots that are not really there tends to amplify conspiracies. Some people’s brains are convincingly wired toward conspiracy thoughts that would likely support conflicting theories. No amount of sensible explanations will dissuade them otherwise.
When people feel the lack of power or political clout in a functional democracy, they tend to overrate what the actual political power can truly achieve. One study revealed that disempowered people (psychologically and socio-politically) are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. A good example is the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump will be another Hitler who will imprison the minorities who do not believe in him in concentration camps.
Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief. People who have lower education have lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.
There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control. A number of people cannot handle bad news, so when they feel threatened or scared in some way, identifying the basis of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety. One study revealed that people are more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are feeling anxious.
Many hundred years ago, whenever anyone died related to the expedition of King Tut’s Tomb, conspiracy theorists conjured up the curse of the supernatural mummies, believing that they were behind the deaths. This type of conspiracy may be due to lack of knowledge on actuarial tables and laws of probability.
Real followers of conspiracy theories are not versed in the art of irony and most likely take the spouted sarcasm as support of the conspiracy. They go on spreading their belief to friends, colleagues, and people around them.
People subscribe to conspiracy theories because they are motivated by the desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected. However, these needs are not fulfilled since their feelings of isolation and confusion are heightened instead. Likewise, people’s trust in their government and institutions are depleted and may adversely result in non-participation in social and political events, leading to greater disempowerment. Believing in untruths can impact individual behavior and eventually the society as a whole. If untruths will not be addressed, the political process and public health will be endangered since it can lead people to not vote, not be immunized, or even exhibit violent behavior.
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