Why are so many people susceptible to conspiracy theories?

Why are so many people susceptible to conspiracy theories?

by Dennis Sparks

Like many others, I have long wondered why so many people are susceptible to conspiracy theories, especially when there is clear, widely available evidence to debunk them.

While this is by no means a new phenomenon, the outlandish claims made daily by political “leaders” and pundits make it an especially appropriate time to explore this issue.

Marshall Sheperd offered these ideas about “…why people migrate to conspiracy theories”:

• Lack of or failure to apply critical thinking skills

• Dunning-Kruger Effect (overestimate of one’s knowledge of particular topics)

• Healthy skepticism because of previous events (See Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments)

• Sharing content without reading it and the inability to grasp the credibility of the source (Everything on the Internet is credible, right?)

• False equivalency. While healthy skepticism and careful thought should be always be given in science, many people mistakenly give equal weight to counter arguments when there is often a clear consensus on the other side.

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