A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that asserts the existence of a conspiracy by powerful and sinister groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term generally has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal of a conspiracy theory is based in prejudice, emotional conviction, or insufficient evidence.
Conspiracy theories are generally designed to resist falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning: both evidence against the conspiracy and absence of evidence for it are misinterpreted as evidence of its truth, whereby the conspiracy becomes a matter of faith rather than something that can be proven or disproven.
1. The Moon Landing
Conspiracy theories suggesting that the moon landing was actually a hoax that the U.S. government had staged to win the space race with the Soviets began to gain traction in the mid-1970s. Although these claims were false and easily debunked, they have persisted to this day.
2. President John F. Kennedy's Assassination
Almost 60 years after President Kennedy was assassinated, the majority of Americans apparently believe in conspiracy theories about his death. Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? Most people don't think so, although it has been proven likely to be the case. Who did it? The umbrella man? The Mob? Our own government? Eighty-Two people have been accused by conspiracy theorists of having shot JFK.
3. Princess Diana's Death
Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose son Dodi, was Diana's boyfriend at the time and also died in the crash, has repeatedly claimed that he believes his son was murdered with Diana. One theory claims that Prince Charles and the Royal family was responsible for their deaths. There are 175 conspiracy claims surrounding their deaths.
Years of lies, innuendo and disingenuous questions have taken a toll, and substantial numbers of Americans on the left and the right now embrace 9/11 conspiracy theories including that there was advance knowledge of the attacks among high-level government officials.
The most prominent conspiracy theory is that the collapse of the Twin Towers and the World Trade Center were the result of controlled demolitions rather than structural failure due to impact and fire. Another prominent belief is that the Pentagon was hit by a missile launched by elements from inside the U.S. government or that a commercial airliner was allowed to do so via an effective stand-down of the American military. After nearly 20 years, apparently it is all still up for debate.
5. Covid 19
One in 4 Americans believe the pandemic was created intentionally. Others believe it is a complete hoax. Some believe 5G wireless signals triggered the infection. There are those who believe the vaccination contains a microchip or alters DNA. We can blame it all on Bill Gates or Dr. Fauci if you believe in some of the conspiracy theories.
Read about these and many other conspiracy theories here:
Conspiracy theories occur when people create links between one or more unrelated events, emerging from the need for the human brain to find “patterns”. New research also shows that people with certain personality traits such as low self-esteem are more likely to have a conspiracy theory addiction. Researchers have studied the different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories and many of the explanations include the following factors:
When a person experiences distress over uncertainty or witnesses a large-scale event, the mind will start to look for explanations that connect the dots. Those with lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty are more likely to believe a conspiracy theory. This is because conspiracy theories can often provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening and believers can assume that they are being intentionally deceived. People are also naturally inclined to search for information that confirms their existing beliefs, this is known as a confirmation bias.
The ability to easily share and spread information over the internet has increased belief in certain conspiracy theories. Someone with a conspiracy theory addiction may seek out information to support something they already think is true, rather than seek out new information or challenge their beliefs. A need for understanding and consistency can lead to addictive behaviors such as spending excessive time on the Internet and ignoring relationships and responsibilities.
Conspiracy theory addiction can also be caused by the need to feel safe and in control. When the human mind feels threatened, identifying what is causing the danger can be a way to cope with anxiety. One study found that people are more likely to believe in conspiracies if they are feeling anxious. Another study found that people who feel psychologically and/or socio-politically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. People who have a conspiracy theory addiction may be drawn to them as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control.
Researchers who have studied why people believe in conspiracy theories have found little evidence that believing in these theories actually help reduce anxiety or satisfy the need to feel in control. People who have a conspiracy theory addiction are less likely to engage in actions that could improve their autonomy and sense of control. The long-term effects of conspiracy theory addiction may leave people feeling more disempowered and anxious than before.
Conspiracy theory addiction can also form as a defense mechanism, especially in those who feel alienation and disaffection from society. Typically, those with a strong belief in conspiracies have a distrust in authority, lower self-esteem, low levels of interpersonal trust, and feel that they are the “heroes” in the story, while those who are conspiring against them are the “enemy.” As modern society becomes more complex and information is more easily spread, some people feel left behind in trying to keep up. When a person feels disadvantaged, they will often find ways to boost their own self-perceptions.
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Features definitions, arguments, and essays on hundreds of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions.
The internet is full of all sorts of wild claims about shadow governments, lizard people, and the shape of the earth. How can these stories inspire tin foil hats despite hard evidence against them?
Why can we find geometric shapes in the night sky? How can we know that at least two people in London have exactly the same number of hairs on their head? And why can patterns be found in just about any text — even Vanilla Ice lyrics? PatrickJMT describes the Ramsey theory, which states that given enough elements in a set or structure, some interesting pattern among them is guaranteed to emerge.