Q&A Friday #46: Why Do People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories?

Question: “In re your conspiracy post:

Why DO people believe in deep, dark conspiracies, when there is a perfect rational, reasonable explanation.

e.g., 9/11 WAS a conspiracy, and a successful one, by Al Queda. Why the barking moonbat LIHOP, MIHOP, controlled demolition lunacy? Where does it come from?: — N. O’Brain

Answer: If you boil it down to its roots, here are two reasons for people buying into conspiracy theories:

#1) There are a lot of people, sometimes even educated people, who intellectually have a great deal of difficulty with thinking logically. These people usually make up the hard-core kook crowd.

#2) The other people who tend to believe in conspiracies generally buy into them because of a lack of knowledge. They hear a claim made, it sounds plausible, and they just don’t have enough information to find out the truth. So, they believe in the conspiracy — sort of. These are people that a person armed with the facts could probably sway.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the internet era is that it’s creating more and more of these people in the #2 crowd. That’s because if you have an internet connection, a kook website is only a click way. Meanwhile, most of the people who know better consider these conspiracies to be so silly that they don’t bother to respond. So, if an average person on the street tries to do any research on a conspiracy theory, what ends up happening is that they find 50 articles making all sorts of similar, yet bizarre claims, and almost no one arguing the opposite position.

That’s why I write about things like the North American Union Conspiracy, The War For Oil Theory, and Jews Running America Behind The Scenes. These nutball conspiracy theories need to be shot down and I’m only too happy to help do that.

Update #1: From the comments section:

“I believe there is a third group John. Motivated by ideology and hatred they are ready to believe whatever helps them feel their ideology and hatred are justified and right. No matter how ridiculous or obviously false their conspiracy theory is, as long as it validates what they believe it is accepted as gospel and defended with vigor. You can group Islamo-fascist terrorists & socialist, bush-hating, anti-war democrats in this 3rd group.” — AlexinCT

I think you’re right and I should have talked about the mentality you’re discussing in the original post. There are a lot of people out there who hate their enemies so much that they believe the worst of them, in almost every case, whether there’s any proof of the allegations being leveled or not.

As conservatives, we see a lot of that with George Bush. But, in all fairness, during the nineties there were Republicans who bought into conspiracy theories about Bill Clinton for the same reasons. In my opinion, a lot of the conspiracy theories about Jews spring from this same sort of venomous hatred.

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