Does the belief in conspiracies have any basis - a question for all conservatives

2lion70

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Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why? There just may be some rational explanation

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories​

By
Kendra Cherry
Updated on September 19, 2020
Medically reviewed by
Steven Gans, MD
Steven Gans



Print
conspiracy theories


Verywell / Catherine Song

Table of Contents
Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have risen to the forefront of consciousness in recent years. Some controversial examples of such theories include the belief that terrorist attacks and mass shootings were staged events orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Other examples include the belief that the pharmaceutical industry intentionally spreads diseases or that vaccines cause illness rather than prevent them. While it might seem like these beliefs are rare or even pathological, research has shown that they are surprisingly common. One study found that half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.1

What Is a Conspiracy Theory?​

A conspiracy theory can be defined as the belief that there are groups that meet in secret to plan and carry out malevolent goals.
What explains this common and often deep-rooted belief that powerful, sinister, and secretive groups are conspiring to deceive others—particularly in a day and age where we have more access to information and facts that might debunk these ideas? Researchers suspect that there are a number of psychological mechanisms, many the result of evolutionary processes, that contribute to these beliefs.2

In a world where you might feel powerless and alienated, it can be appealing to believe that there are forces plotting against you and your interests. Once these beliefs take root, cognitive biases and mental shortcuts reinforce and strengthen them. Many of the same factors that fuel other types of problematic thinking, such as a belief in the paranormal, also contribute to conspiracy theories.

And while such paranoid ideas are not new, the internet has helped transform the speed and manner in which they spread. In order to understand why people believe in these conspiracies, it is important to explore some of the psychological explanations and the potential effects these beliefs have.

10 Cognitive Biases That Distort Your Thinking

Examples​

Some recent examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The Pizzagate conspiracy theory suggests that politicians and Hollywood elite are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring. One report found that 9% of respondents believed in this conspiracy.3
  • Another recent conspiracy stems from QAnon, a far-right conspiracy site claiming it has top-level knowledge of a secret "Deep State" working against President Donald Trump.4
  • The belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States was found to be believed by 11% of those surveyed in a study.5
  • Another conspiracy suggests that the billionaire George Soros is part of a secret plot to destabilize the U.S. government. Approximately 9% of respondents in one study indicated that they believe this to be true.5

Explanations​

Researchers suggest that there are a number of different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Many of these explanations boil down to three key driving factors:

  • A need for understanding and consistency (epistemic)6
  • A need for control (existential)
  • A need to belong or feel special (social)6

Epistemic Reasons

Epistemic explanations refer to the desire to derive certainty and understanding. The world can often seem confusing, dangerous, and chaotic. At the same time, people want to understand what's happening and are driven to explain things that happen. Doing so helps them build up a consistent, stable, and clear understanding of how the world works.

Factors That Increase Conspiracy Belief

  • Situations involving large-scale events, where more mundane or small-scale explanations seem inadequate
  • Situations where people experience distress over uncertainty
When people encounter disparate information, it is only natural to look for explanations that connect the dots. Conspiracy theories offer explanations that provide this connection.

They also suggest that the underlying causes are hidden from public view. When confusing things happen, believers can then assume that it is because they are being intentionally deceived by outside forces. There is also a connection between conspiracy beliefs and educational levels. Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief.

Having lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty also play a role. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.

The confirmation bias can also play a role in the development of conspiracy belief. People are naturally inclined to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs.7 So when they run across a theory that supports something that they already think is true, they are more likely to believe the information is also true.

How Your Brain Plays Tricks on You

Existential Reasons

There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control.8 When people feel threatened in some way, detecting sources of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety.

What The Research Suggests:

  • One study found that people who feel psychologically and sociopolitically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.8
  • Another study found that people are also more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are experiencing anxiety.
While researchers understand these existential motivations, there is little evidence that believing in these theories actually helps people satisfy this need to feel control and autonomy. In fact, by believing in these theories, people may actually be less likely to engage in actions that would potentially boost their sense of control (such as voting or participating in political activity).

So while people may be drawn to conspiracy theories as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control of their own destiny, the long-term effects may actually leave people feeling more disempowered than ever before.

Social Reasons

People can also be motivated to believe in conspiracy due to social reasons. Some researchers have hypothesized that by believing in conspiracies that portray out-groups as the opposition, people are able to feel better about themselves and their own social group.2 Those who believe in the conspiracy feel that they are the “heroes” of the story, while those who are conspiring against them are “the enemy.”

Why People Believe In Conspiracies

  • They are on the “losing” side of a political issue.
  • They have a lower social status due to income or ethnicity.
  • They have experienced social ostracism.
  • They are prejudiced against “enemy” groups they perceive as powerful.
Such findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs might arise as a sort of defense mechanism. When people feel disadvantaged, they are motivated to find ways to boost their own self-perceptions. Blaming others by linking them to malevolent plots provides a scapegoat on which to lay blame, thus improving how conspiracy believers view themselves.

The belief in conspiracies is also rooted in what is referred to as collective narcissism. This is the belief that your own social group is better, yet less appreciated, by other people.

People who feel that they or their social group have been victimized are also less likely to believe in government institutions and more likely to believe in conspiracies.
The way in which people encounter and share these ideas should also be noted. It’s easy to dismiss a story shared by a random source that you don’t trust.

But when multiple people in your social circle who you do know and trust all seem to believe the same story, it starts to seem less like a silly conspiracy and more like a trusted fact. Sharing these kinds of stories within our networks gives social credence to such conspiratorial thinking.

How Your Decisions Are Biased by the First Thing You Hear

Effects

While researchers have some good theories about why people believe in conspiracies, it is less clear what the ultimate effects of these beliefs are.

What researchers have found is that while these beliefs are motivated by a desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected, these aren’t the effects people are deriving from their beliefs.6 Rather than fulfilling these needs, believing in conspiracies seems to reinforce feelings of confusion, isolation, disenfranchisement, and loneliness.

It is a destructive cycle—negative feelings contribute to the belief in conspiracies, yet the belief in conspiracies results in negative feelings. Believing in conspiracy theories erodes people’s trust in their government, their leaders, and their institutions.

It also diminishes trust in science and research itself. This distrust may discourage people from participating in their social worlds. It might also cause people to stop seeing themselves as valuable contributors to society.

Rather than helping people cope with their feelings of social alienation and political disenfranchisement, conspiracy beliefs seem to create a cycle of distrust that leads to even greater disempowerment.

Risks

Believing in things that are not true poses a number of dangers, which can have real effects that impact individual behavior and ultimately have a ripple impact on society as a whole. A resurgence in measles outbreaks in the U.S. has been largely attributed to a refusal by some individuals to vaccinate—a refusal that stems largely from the conspiratorial belief that vaccines cause autism and other health ailments.9

Failing to address dangerous misbeliefs presents a potential danger to public health and even the political process itself. Faulty beliefs lead can lead people to not vaccinate, not vote, or, in some rare cases, even engage in dangerous or violent behavior.

Types of Cognitive Biases That Distort How You Think

Overcoming Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

In the age of disinformation, finding ways to refute conspiracy beliefs seems more important than ever. Social platforms claim to be buckling down on those who peddle and profit off of conspiracies, but is it really possible to change such views once they’ve taken root? Some things to remember when trying to change someone's mind about a conspiracy theory.

Disputing a Belief May Lead to Resistance

One problem faced when trying to disprove conspiracy theories is that people who hold these beliefs also tend to suspect that there are factions engaged in covering up these activities. Those trying to debunk the mistaken beliefs are then viewed as simply being actors in the conspiracy itself.

While it might be tempting to simply mock conspiracy theories, especially the more ridiculous ones, this usually causes believers to dig in their heels and deepen their commitment to their belief.

Feeling In Control Reduces Conspiratorial Thinking

Many factors that contribute to conspiratorial beliefs, such as educational background and personality, are not easily or quickly changed. Researchers have found one tactic, however, that is effective — encouraging believers to pursue their goals.10

People tend to take one of two approaches in the pursuit of goals.

  • Those who are "promotion-focused" believe that they have the power and control to shape their future.
  • People who are "prevention-focused," on the other hand, are more focused on protecting what they already have rather than on achieving their goals.

So what does this have to do with conspiracy beliefs? Researchers found that promotion-focused people were more skeptical and less likely to buy into conspiracies.10

Why? People who believe that the future hinges on their own actions have a great deal of personal agency and control. It is this sense of autonomy and agency that makes people less likely to believe in secret plots and nefarious plans.

What the researchers also discovered was that giving people a nudge in the direction of a more promotion-focused mindset could actually reduce belief in conspiracies.10 In practical terms, promoting messages that help people feel more in control can minimize conspiratorial thinking.

Write It Down

Researchers had study participants write down their aspirations, which helped them focus on their goals and what they could do to achieve them. This simple activity encourages people to take a more promotion-focused mindset and reduces conspiracy belief.
While researchers have been able to reduce conspiratorial thinking in the lab, how applicable is this in the real world? In workplace settings, managers might employ this strategy to help minimize water-cooler worries, office gossip, and interpersonal friction. Regular discussions that center on employee goals and strategies to achieve those goals can help keep workers feeling more in control and less subject to corporate whims.

In terms of public health, organizations might start by promoting messages focused on realistic things people can do to take control of their own health. Building this sort of action-oriented mindset may help discourage belief in health-related conspiracies and build greater trust between medical organizations and health consumers.

A Word From Verywell

Conspiratorial thinking can be problematic and dangerous (Pizzagate, anyone?), but this does not mean that skepticism of institutions, marketing, and media messaging is not warranted. After all, not all conspiracies are false (the Tuskegee experiments and Iran-Contra are just a couple of examples).

As you encounter information from various sources, it is important to be able to distinguish between false conspiracy theories and real threats to personal security. While it may be tempting to ridicule conspiracy believers, remember that these sort of beliefs are actually pretty common — you probably even believe in some of them.

In a world where people feel the very real effects of power imbalances and distrust in leadership, conspiracy theories will naturally flourish. This means discouraging this type of thinking is not always easy.
 
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NJPSU

Well-Known Member
May 29, 2001
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Yep it’s remarkable. It really kicked into high gear under Trump with his non stop lying about everything.

Even yesterday when Merck announced that break thru drug, they immediately went conspiracy theory about it. It permeates every aspect of their life.
 
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McCloudersportLion

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2019
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Humans have been "conspiring" to do things of a secretive nature since the days of Gilgamesh and probably before recorded history. Dismissing the theory that people might have conspired to do something by labeling them "conspiracy theorists" is what smooth brains do- the better option is to actually observe and crack away at the theory until even MSNBC is too embarassed to keep pushing it (almost impossible).


First Lesson: Learn what the word "conspiracy" actually means.

Ex: Today we learned about the Nazi conspiracy to burn down the Reichstag. They conspired to burn it down then blame it on Jews and Commies- and that aint no theory that's a fact Jack.

Next Lesson: research the term "Gaslighting"
 
Last edited:

bourbon n blues

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2019
21,669
25,188
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Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why? There just may be some rational explanation

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories​

By
Kendra Cherry
Updated on September 19, 2020
Medically reviewed by
Steven Gans, MD
Steven Gans



Print
conspiracy theories


Verywell / Catherine Song

Table of Contents
Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have risen to the forefront of consciousness in recent years. Some controversial examples of such theories include the belief that terrorist attacks and mass shootings were staged events orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Other examples include the belief that the pharmaceutical industry intentionally spreads diseases or that vaccines cause illness rather than prevent them. While it might seem like these beliefs are rare or even pathological, research has shown that they are surprisingly common. One study found that half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.1

What Is a Conspiracy Theory?​

A conspiracy theory can be defined as the belief that there are groups that meet in secret to plan and carry out malevolent goals.
What explains this common and often deep-rooted belief that powerful, sinister, and secretive groups are conspiring to deceive others—particularly in a day and age where we have more access to information and facts that might debunk these ideas? Researchers suspect that there are a number of psychological mechanisms, many the result of evolutionary processes, that contribute to these beliefs.2

In a world where you might feel powerless and alienated, it can be appealing to believe that there are forces plotting against you and your interests. Once these beliefs take root, cognitive biases and mental shortcuts reinforce and strengthen them. Many of the same factors that fuel other types of problematic thinking, such as a belief in the paranormal, also contribute to conspiracy theories.

And while such paranoid ideas are not new, the internet has helped transform the speed and manner in which they spread. In order to understand why people believe in these conspiracies, it is important to explore some of the psychological explanations and the potential effects these beliefs have.

10 Cognitive Biases That Distort Your Thinking

Examples​

Some recent examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The Pizzagate conspiracy theory suggests that politicians and Hollywood elite are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring. One report found that 9% of respondents believed in this conspiracy.3
  • Another recent conspiracy stems from QAnon, a far-right conspiracy site claiming it has top-level knowledge of a secret "Deep State" working against President Donald Trump.4
  • The belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States was found to be believed by 11% of those surveyed in a study.5
  • Another conspiracy suggests that the billionaire George Soros is part of a secret plot to destabilize the U.S. government. Approximately 9% of respondents in one study indicated that they believe this to be true.5

Explanations​

Researchers suggest that there are a number of different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Many of these explanations boil down to three key driving factors:

  • A need for understanding and consistency (epistemic)6
  • A need for control (existential)
  • A need to belong or feel special (social)6

Epistemic Reasons

Epistemic explanations refer to the desire to derive certainty and understanding. The world can often seem confusing, dangerous, and chaotic. At the same time, people want to understand what's happening and are driven to explain things that happen. Doing so helps them build up a consistent, stable, and clear understanding of how the world works.

Factors That Increase Conspiracy Belief

  • Situations involving large-scale events, where more mundane or small-scale explanations seem inadequate
  • Situations where people experience distress over uncertainty
When people encounter disparate information, it is only natural to look for explanations that connect the dots. Conspiracy theories offer explanations that provide this connection.

They also suggest that the underlying causes are hidden from public view. When confusing things happen, believers can then assume that it is because they are being intentionally deceived by outside forces. There is also a connection between conspiracy beliefs and educational levels. Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief.

Having lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty also play a role. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.

The confirmation bias can also play a role in the development of conspiracy belief. People are naturally inclined to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs.7 So when they run across a theory that supports something that they already think is true, they are more likely to believe the information is also true.

How Your Brain Plays Tricks on You


Existential Reasons

There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control.8 When people feel threatened in some way, detecting sources of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety.

What The Research Suggests:

  • One study found that people who feel psychologically and sociopolitically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.8
  • Another study found that people are also more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are experiencing anxiety.
While researchers understand these existential motivations, there is little evidence that believing in these theories actually helps people satisfy this need to feel control and autonomy. In fact, by believing in these theories, people may actually be less likely to engage in actions that would potentially boost their sense of control (such as voting or participating in political activity).

So while people may be drawn to conspiracy theories as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control of their own destiny, the long-term effects may actually leave people feeling more disempowered than ever before.


Social Reasons

People can also be motivated to believe in conspiracy due to social reasons. Some researchers have hypothesized that by believing in conspiracies that portray out-groups as the opposition, people are able to feel better about themselves and their own social group.2 Those who believe in the conspiracy feel that they are the “heroes” of the story, while those who are conspiring against them are “the enemy.”

Why People Believe In Conspiracies

  • They are on the “losing” side of a political issue.
  • They have a lower social status due to income or ethnicity.
  • They have experienced social ostracism.
  • They are prejudiced against “enemy” groups they perceive as powerful.
Such findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs might arise as a sort of defense mechanism. When people feel disadvantaged, they are motivated to find ways to boost their own self-perceptions. Blaming others by linking them to malevolent plots provides a scapegoat on which to lay blame, thus improving how conspiracy believers view themselves.

The belief in conspiracies is also rooted in what is referred to as collective narcissism. This is the belief that your own social group is better, yet less appreciated, by other people.

People who feel that they or their social group have been victimized are also less likely to believe in government institutions and more likely to believe in conspiracies.
The way in which people encounter and share these ideas should also be noted. It’s easy to dismiss a story shared by a random source that you don’t trust.

But when multiple people in your social circle who you do know and trust all seem to believe the same story, it starts to seem less like a silly conspiracy and more like a trusted fact. Sharing these kinds of stories within our networks gives social credence to such conspiratorial thinking.

How Your Decisions Are Biased by the First Thing You Hear


Effects

While researchers have some good theories about why people believe in conspiracies, it is less clear what the ultimate effects of these beliefs are.

What researchers have found is that while these beliefs are motivated by a desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected, these aren’t the effects people are deriving from their beliefs.6 Rather than fulfilling these needs, believing in conspiracies seems to reinforce feelings of confusion, isolation, disenfranchisement, and loneliness.

It is a destructive cycle—negative feelings contribute to the belief in conspiracies, yet the belief in conspiracies results in negative feelings. Believing in conspiracy theories erodes people’s trust in their government, their leaders, and their institutions.

It also diminishes trust in science and research itself. This distrust may discourage people from participating in their social worlds. It might also cause people to stop seeing themselves as valuable contributors to society.

Rather than helping people cope with their feelings of social alienation and political disenfranchisement, conspiracy beliefs seem to create a cycle of distrust that leads to even greater disempowerment.

Risks

Believing in things that are not true poses a number of dangers, which can have real effects that impact individual behavior and ultimately have a ripple impact on society as a whole. A resurgence in measles outbreaks in the U.S. has been largely attributed to a refusal by some individuals to vaccinate—a refusal that stems largely from the conspiratorial belief that vaccines cause autism and other health ailments.9

Failing to address dangerous misbeliefs presents a potential danger to public health and even the political process itself. Faulty beliefs lead can lead people to not vaccinate, not vote, or, in some rare cases, even engage in dangerous or violent behavior.

Types of Cognitive Biases That Distort How You Think


Overcoming Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

In the age of disinformation, finding ways to refute conspiracy beliefs seems more important than ever. Social platforms claim to be buckling down on those who peddle and profit off of conspiracies, but is it really possible to change such views once they’ve taken root? Some things to remember when trying to change someone's mind about a conspiracy theory.

Disputing a Belief May Lead to Resistance

One problem faced when trying to disprove conspiracy theories is that people who hold these beliefs also tend to suspect that there are factions engaged in covering up these activities. Those trying to debunk the mistaken beliefs are then viewed as simply being actors in the conspiracy itself.

While it might be tempting to simply mock conspiracy theories, especially the more ridiculous ones, this usually causes believers to dig in their heels and deepen their commitment to their belief.

Feeling In Control Reduces Conspiratorial Thinking

Many factors that contribute to conspiratorial beliefs, such as educational background and personality, are not easily or quickly changed. Researchers have found one tactic, however, that is effective — encouraging believers to pursue their goals.10

People tend to take one of two approaches in the pursuit of goals.


  • Those who are "promotion-focused" believe that they have the power and control to shape their future.
  • People who are "prevention-focused," on the other hand, are more focused on protecting what they already have rather than on achieving their goals.

So what does this have to do with conspiracy beliefs? Researchers found that promotion-focused people were more skeptical and less likely to buy into conspiracies.10

Why? People who believe that the future hinges on their own actions have a great deal of personal agency and control. It is this sense of autonomy and agency that makes people less likely to believe in secret plots and nefarious plans.

What the researchers also discovered was that giving people a nudge in the direction of a more promotion-focused mindset could actually reduce belief in conspiracies.10 In practical terms, promoting messages that help people feel more in control can minimize conspiratorial thinking.


Write It Down

Researchers had study participants write down their aspirations, which helped them focus on their goals and what they could do to achieve them. This simple activity encourages people to take a more promotion-focused mindset and reduces conspiracy belief.
While researchers have been able to reduce conspiratorial thinking in the lab, how applicable is this in the real world? In workplace settings, managers might employ this strategy to help minimize water-cooler worries, office gossip, and interpersonal friction. Regular discussions that center on employee goals and strategies to achieve those goals can help keep workers feeling more in control and less subject to corporate whims.

In terms of public health, organizations might start by promoting messages focused on realistic things people can do to take control of their own health. Building this sort of action-oriented mindset may help discourage belief in health-related conspiracies and build greater trust between medical organizations and health consumers.


A Word From Verywell

Conspiratorial thinking can be problematic and dangerous (Pizzagate, anyone?), but this does not mean that skepticism of institutions, marketing, and media messaging is not warranted. After all, not all conspiracies are false (the Tuskegee experiments and Iran-Contra are just a couple of examples).

As you encounter information from various sources, it is important to be able to distinguish between false conspiracy theories and real threats to personal security. While it may be tempting to ridicule conspiracy believers, remember that these sort of beliefs are actually pretty common — you probably even believe in some of them.

In a world where people feel the very real effects of power imbalances and distrust in leadership, conspiracy theories will naturally flourish. This means discouraging this type of thinking is not always easy.
You’re one of the most dishonest people I know online, you bought hook, line , and sinker in Russia Gate. A democrat hoax .
 

PSUEngineer89

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2021
5,141
8,347
1
Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why? There just may be some rational explanation

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories​

By
Kendra Cherry
Updated on September 19, 2020
Medically reviewed by
Steven Gans, MD
Steven Gans



Print
conspiracy theories


Verywell / Catherine Song

Table of Contents
Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have risen to the forefront of consciousness in recent years. Some controversial examples of such theories include the belief that terrorist attacks and mass shootings were staged events orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Other examples include the belief that the pharmaceutical industry intentionally spreads diseases or that vaccines cause illness rather than prevent them. While it might seem like these beliefs are rare or even pathological, research has shown that they are surprisingly common. One study found that half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.1

What Is a Conspiracy Theory?​

A conspiracy theory can be defined as the belief that there are groups that meet in secret to plan and carry out malevolent goals.
What explains this common and often deep-rooted belief that powerful, sinister, and secretive groups are conspiring to deceive others—particularly in a day and age where we have more access to information and facts that might debunk these ideas? Researchers suspect that there are a number of psychological mechanisms, many the result of evolutionary processes, that contribute to these beliefs.2

In a world where you might feel powerless and alienated, it can be appealing to believe that there are forces plotting against you and your interests. Once these beliefs take root, cognitive biases and mental shortcuts reinforce and strengthen them. Many of the same factors that fuel other types of problematic thinking, such as a belief in the paranormal, also contribute to conspiracy theories.

And while such paranoid ideas are not new, the internet has helped transform the speed and manner in which they spread. In order to understand why people believe in these conspiracies, it is important to explore some of the psychological explanations and the potential effects these beliefs have.

10 Cognitive Biases That Distort Your Thinking

Examples​

Some recent examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The Pizzagate conspiracy theory suggests that politicians and Hollywood elite are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring. One report found that 9% of respondents believed in this conspiracy.3
  • Another recent conspiracy stems from QAnon, a far-right conspiracy site claiming it has top-level knowledge of a secret "Deep State" working against President Donald Trump.4
  • The belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States was found to be believed by 11% of those surveyed in a study.5
  • Another conspiracy suggests that the billionaire George Soros is part of a secret plot to destabilize the U.S. government. Approximately 9% of respondents in one study indicated that they believe this to be true.5

Explanations​

Researchers suggest that there are a number of different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Many of these explanations boil down to three key driving factors:

  • A need for understanding and consistency (epistemic)6
  • A need for control (existential)
  • A need to belong or feel special (social)6

Epistemic Reasons

Epistemic explanations refer to the desire to derive certainty and understanding. The world can often seem confusing, dangerous, and chaotic. At the same time, people want to understand what's happening and are driven to explain things that happen. Doing so helps them build up a consistent, stable, and clear understanding of how the world works.

Factors That Increase Conspiracy Belief

  • Situations involving large-scale events, where more mundane or small-scale explanations seem inadequate
  • Situations where people experience distress over uncertainty
When people encounter disparate information, it is only natural to look for explanations that connect the dots. Conspiracy theories offer explanations that provide this connection.

They also suggest that the underlying causes are hidden from public view. When confusing things happen, believers can then assume that it is because they are being intentionally deceived by outside forces. There is also a connection between conspiracy beliefs and educational levels. Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief.

Having lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty also play a role. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.

The confirmation bias can also play a role in the development of conspiracy belief. People are naturally inclined to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs.7 So when they run across a theory that supports something that they already think is true, they are more likely to believe the information is also true.

How Your Brain Plays Tricks on You


Existential Reasons

There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control.8 When people feel threatened in some way, detecting sources of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety.

What The Research Suggests:

  • One study found that people who feel psychologically and sociopolitically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.8
  • Another study found that people are also more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are experiencing anxiety.
While researchers understand these existential motivations, there is little evidence that believing in these theories actually helps people satisfy this need to feel control and autonomy. In fact, by believing in these theories, people may actually be less likely to engage in actions that would potentially boost their sense of control (such as voting or participating in political activity).

So while people may be drawn to conspiracy theories as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control of their own destiny, the long-term effects may actually leave people feeling more disempowered than ever before.


Social Reasons

People can also be motivated to believe in conspiracy due to social reasons. Some researchers have hypothesized that by believing in conspiracies that portray out-groups as the opposition, people are able to feel better about themselves and their own social group.2 Those who believe in the conspiracy feel that they are the “heroes” of the story, while those who are conspiring against them are “the enemy.”

Why People Believe In Conspiracies

  • They are on the “losing” side of a political issue.
  • They have a lower social status due to income or ethnicity.
  • They have experienced social ostracism.
  • They are prejudiced against “enemy” groups they perceive as powerful.
Such findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs might arise as a sort of defense mechanism. When people feel disadvantaged, they are motivated to find ways to boost their own self-perceptions. Blaming others by linking them to malevolent plots provides a scapegoat on which to lay blame, thus improving how conspiracy believers view themselves.

The belief in conspiracies is also rooted in what is referred to as collective narcissism. This is the belief that your own social group is better, yet less appreciated, by other people.

People who feel that they or their social group have been victimized are also less likely to believe in government institutions and more likely to believe in conspiracies.
The way in which people encounter and share these ideas should also be noted. It’s easy to dismiss a story shared by a random source that you don’t trust.

But when multiple people in your social circle who you do know and trust all seem to believe the same story, it starts to seem less like a silly conspiracy and more like a trusted fact. Sharing these kinds of stories within our networks gives social credence to such conspiratorial thinking.

How Your Decisions Are Biased by the First Thing You Hear


Effects

While researchers have some good theories about why people believe in conspiracies, it is less clear what the ultimate effects of these beliefs are.

What researchers have found is that while these beliefs are motivated by a desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected, these aren’t the effects people are deriving from their beliefs.6 Rather than fulfilling these needs, believing in conspiracies seems to reinforce feelings of confusion, isolation, disenfranchisement, and loneliness.

It is a destructive cycle—negative feelings contribute to the belief in conspiracies, yet the belief in conspiracies results in negative feelings. Believing in conspiracy theories erodes people’s trust in their government, their leaders, and their institutions.

It also diminishes trust in science and research itself. This distrust may discourage people from participating in their social worlds. It might also cause people to stop seeing themselves as valuable contributors to society.

Rather than helping people cope with their feelings of social alienation and political disenfranchisement, conspiracy beliefs seem to create a cycle of distrust that leads to even greater disempowerment.

Risks

Believing in things that are not true poses a number of dangers, which can have real effects that impact individual behavior and ultimately have a ripple impact on society as a whole. A resurgence in measles outbreaks in the U.S. has been largely attributed to a refusal by some individuals to vaccinate—a refusal that stems largely from the conspiratorial belief that vaccines cause autism and other health ailments.9

Failing to address dangerous misbeliefs presents a potential danger to public health and even the political process itself. Faulty beliefs lead can lead people to not vaccinate, not vote, or, in some rare cases, even engage in dangerous or violent behavior.

Types of Cognitive Biases That Distort How You Think


Overcoming Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

In the age of disinformation, finding ways to refute conspiracy beliefs seems more important than ever. Social platforms claim to be buckling down on those who peddle and profit off of conspiracies, but is it really possible to change such views once they’ve taken root? Some things to remember when trying to change someone's mind about a conspiracy theory.

Disputing a Belief May Lead to Resistance

One problem faced when trying to disprove conspiracy theories is that people who hold these beliefs also tend to suspect that there are factions engaged in covering up these activities. Those trying to debunk the mistaken beliefs are then viewed as simply being actors in the conspiracy itself.

While it might be tempting to simply mock conspiracy theories, especially the more ridiculous ones, this usually causes believers to dig in their heels and deepen their commitment to their belief.

Feeling In Control Reduces Conspiratorial Thinking

Many factors that contribute to conspiratorial beliefs, such as educational background and personality, are not easily or quickly changed. Researchers have found one tactic, however, that is effective — encouraging believers to pursue their goals.10

People tend to take one of two approaches in the pursuit of goals.


  • Those who are "promotion-focused" believe that they have the power and control to shape their future.
  • People who are "prevention-focused," on the other hand, are more focused on protecting what they already have rather than on achieving their goals.

So what does this have to do with conspiracy beliefs? Researchers found that promotion-focused people were more skeptical and less likely to buy into conspiracies.10

Why? People who believe that the future hinges on their own actions have a great deal of personal agency and control. It is this sense of autonomy and agency that makes people less likely to believe in secret plots and nefarious plans.

What the researchers also discovered was that giving people a nudge in the direction of a more promotion-focused mindset could actually reduce belief in conspiracies.10 In practical terms, promoting messages that help people feel more in control can minimize conspiratorial thinking.


Write It Down

Researchers had study participants write down their aspirations, which helped them focus on their goals and what they could do to achieve them. This simple activity encourages people to take a more promotion-focused mindset and reduces conspiracy belief.
While researchers have been able to reduce conspiratorial thinking in the lab, how applicable is this in the real world? In workplace settings, managers might employ this strategy to help minimize water-cooler worries, office gossip, and interpersonal friction. Regular discussions that center on employee goals and strategies to achieve those goals can help keep workers feeling more in control and less subject to corporate whims.

In terms of public health, organizations might start by promoting messages focused on realistic things people can do to take control of their own health. Building this sort of action-oriented mindset may help discourage belief in health-related conspiracies and build greater trust between medical organizations and health consumers.


A Word From Verywell

Conspiratorial thinking can be problematic and dangerous (Pizzagate, anyone?), but this does not mean that skepticism of institutions, marketing, and media messaging is not warranted. After all, not all conspiracies are false (the Tuskegee experiments and Iran-Contra are just a couple of examples).

As you encounter information from various sources, it is important to be able to distinguish between false conspiracy theories and real threats to personal security. While it may be tempting to ridicule conspiracy believers, remember that these sort of beliefs are actually pretty common — you probably even believe in some of them.

In a world where people feel the very real effects of power imbalances and distrust in leadership, conspiracy theories will naturally flourish. This means discouraging this type of thinking is not always easy.
Hahahaha, a completely not smart person shares his view of two equally not smart people who agree with .....you guessed it.....HIM!

Awesome!
 

HartfordLlion

Well-Known Member
Sep 28, 2001
21,858
14,748
1
Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why? There just may be some rational explanation

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories​

By
Kendra Cherry
Updated on September 19, 2020
Medically reviewed by
Steven Gans, MD
Steven Gans



Print
conspiracy theories


Verywell / Catherine Song

Table of Contents
Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have risen to the forefront of consciousness in recent years. Some controversial examples of such theories include the belief that terrorist attacks and mass shootings were staged events orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Other examples include the belief that the pharmaceutical industry intentionally spreads diseases or that vaccines cause illness rather than prevent them. While it might seem like these beliefs are rare or even pathological, research has shown that they are surprisingly common. One study found that half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.1

What Is a Conspiracy Theory?​

A conspiracy theory can be defined as the belief that there are groups that meet in secret to plan and carry out malevolent goals.
What explains this common and often deep-rooted belief that powerful, sinister, and secretive groups are conspiring to deceive others—particularly in a day and age where we have more access to information and facts that might debunk these ideas? Researchers suspect that there are a number of psychological mechanisms, many the result of evolutionary processes, that contribute to these beliefs.2

In a world where you might feel powerless and alienated, it can be appealing to believe that there are forces plotting against you and your interests. Once these beliefs take root, cognitive biases and mental shortcuts reinforce and strengthen them. Many of the same factors that fuel other types of problematic thinking, such as a belief in the paranormal, also contribute to conspiracy theories.

And while such paranoid ideas are not new, the internet has helped transform the speed and manner in which they spread. In order to understand why people believe in these conspiracies, it is important to explore some of the psychological explanations and the potential effects these beliefs have.

10 Cognitive Biases That Distort Your Thinking

Examples​

Some recent examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The Pizzagate conspiracy theory suggests that politicians and Hollywood elite are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring. One report found that 9% of respondents believed in this conspiracy.3
  • Another recent conspiracy stems from QAnon, a far-right conspiracy site claiming it has top-level knowledge of a secret "Deep State" working against President Donald Trump.4
  • The belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States was found to be believed by 11% of those surveyed in a study.5
  • Another conspiracy suggests that the billionaire George Soros is part of a secret plot to destabilize the U.S. government. Approximately 9% of respondents in one study indicated that they believe this to be true.5

Explanations​

Researchers suggest that there are a number of different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Many of these explanations boil down to three key driving factors:

  • A need for understanding and consistency (epistemic)6
  • A need for control (existential)
  • A need to belong or feel special (social)6

Epistemic Reasons

Epistemic explanations refer to the desire to derive certainty and understanding. The world can often seem confusing, dangerous, and chaotic. At the same time, people want to understand what's happening and are driven to explain things that happen. Doing so helps them build up a consistent, stable, and clear understanding of how the world works.

Factors That Increase Conspiracy Belief

  • Situations involving large-scale events, where more mundane or small-scale explanations seem inadequate
  • Situations where people experience distress over uncertainty
When people encounter disparate information, it is only natural to look for explanations that connect the dots. Conspiracy theories offer explanations that provide this connection.

They also suggest that the underlying causes are hidden from public view. When confusing things happen, believers can then assume that it is because they are being intentionally deceived by outside forces. There is also a connection between conspiracy beliefs and educational levels. Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief.

Having lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty also play a role. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.

The confirmation bias can also play a role in the development of conspiracy belief. People are naturally inclined to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs.7 So when they run across a theory that supports something that they already think is true, they are more likely to believe the information is also true.

How Your Brain Plays Tricks on You


Existential Reasons

There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control.8 When people feel threatened in some way, detecting sources of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety.

What The Research Suggests:

  • One study found that people who feel psychologically and sociopolitically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.8
  • Another study found that people are also more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are experiencing anxiety.
While researchers understand these existential motivations, there is little evidence that believing in these theories actually helps people satisfy this need to feel control and autonomy. In fact, by believing in these theories, people may actually be less likely to engage in actions that would potentially boost their sense of control (such as voting or participating in political activity).

So while people may be drawn to conspiracy theories as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control of their own destiny, the long-term effects may actually leave people feeling more disempowered than ever before.


Social Reasons

People can also be motivated to believe in conspiracy due to social reasons. Some researchers have hypothesized that by believing in conspiracies that portray out-groups as the opposition, people are able to feel better about themselves and their own social group.2 Those who believe in the conspiracy feel that they are the “heroes” of the story, while those who are conspiring against them are “the enemy.”

Why People Believe In Conspiracies

  • They are on the “losing” side of a political issue.
  • They have a lower social status due to income or ethnicity.
  • They have experienced social ostracism.
  • They are prejudiced against “enemy” groups they perceive as powerful.
Such findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs might arise as a sort of defense mechanism. When people feel disadvantaged, they are motivated to find ways to boost their own self-perceptions. Blaming others by linking them to malevolent plots provides a scapegoat on which to lay blame, thus improving how conspiracy believers view themselves.

The belief in conspiracies is also rooted in what is referred to as collective narcissism. This is the belief that your own social group is better, yet less appreciated, by other people.

People who feel that they or their social group have been victimized are also less likely to believe in government institutions and more likely to believe in conspiracies.
The way in which people encounter and share these ideas should also be noted. It’s easy to dismiss a story shared by a random source that you don’t trust.

But when multiple people in your social circle who you do know and trust all seem to believe the same story, it starts to seem less like a silly conspiracy and more like a trusted fact. Sharing these kinds of stories within our networks gives social credence to such conspiratorial thinking.

How Your Decisions Are Biased by the First Thing You Hear


Effects

While researchers have some good theories about why people believe in conspiracies, it is less clear what the ultimate effects of these beliefs are.

What researchers have found is that while these beliefs are motivated by a desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected, these aren’t the effects people are deriving from their beliefs.6 Rather than fulfilling these needs, believing in conspiracies seems to reinforce feelings of confusion, isolation, disenfranchisement, and loneliness.

It is a destructive cycle—negative feelings contribute to the belief in conspiracies, yet the belief in conspiracies results in negative feelings. Believing in conspiracy theories erodes people’s trust in their government, their leaders, and their institutions.

It also diminishes trust in science and research itself. This distrust may discourage people from participating in their social worlds. It might also cause people to stop seeing themselves as valuable contributors to society.

Rather than helping people cope with their feelings of social alienation and political disenfranchisement, conspiracy beliefs seem to create a cycle of distrust that leads to even greater disempowerment.

Risks

Believing in things that are not true poses a number of dangers, which can have real effects that impact individual behavior and ultimately have a ripple impact on society as a whole. A resurgence in measles outbreaks in the U.S. has been largely attributed to a refusal by some individuals to vaccinate—a refusal that stems largely from the conspiratorial belief that vaccines cause autism and other health ailments.9

Failing to address dangerous misbeliefs presents a potential danger to public health and even the political process itself. Faulty beliefs lead can lead people to not vaccinate, not vote, or, in some rare cases, even engage in dangerous or violent behavior.

Types of Cognitive Biases That Distort How You Think


Overcoming Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

In the age of disinformation, finding ways to refute conspiracy beliefs seems more important than ever. Social platforms claim to be buckling down on those who peddle and profit off of conspiracies, but is it really possible to change such views once they’ve taken root? Some things to remember when trying to change someone's mind about a conspiracy theory.

Disputing a Belief May Lead to Resistance

One problem faced when trying to disprove conspiracy theories is that people who hold these beliefs also tend to suspect that there are factions engaged in covering up these activities. Those trying to debunk the mistaken beliefs are then viewed as simply being actors in the conspiracy itself.

While it might be tempting to simply mock conspiracy theories, especially the more ridiculous ones, this usually causes believers to dig in their heels and deepen their commitment to their belief.

Feeling In Control Reduces Conspiratorial Thinking

Many factors that contribute to conspiratorial beliefs, such as educational background and personality, are not easily or quickly changed. Researchers have found one tactic, however, that is effective — encouraging believers to pursue their goals.10

People tend to take one of two approaches in the pursuit of goals.


  • Those who are "promotion-focused" believe that they have the power and control to shape their future.
  • People who are "prevention-focused," on the other hand, are more focused on protecting what they already have rather than on achieving their goals.

So what does this have to do with conspiracy beliefs? Researchers found that promotion-focused people were more skeptical and less likely to buy into conspiracies.10

Why? People who believe that the future hinges on their own actions have a great deal of personal agency and control. It is this sense of autonomy and agency that makes people less likely to believe in secret plots and nefarious plans.

What the researchers also discovered was that giving people a nudge in the direction of a more promotion-focused mindset could actually reduce belief in conspiracies.10 In practical terms, promoting messages that help people feel more in control can minimize conspiratorial thinking.


Write It Down

Researchers had study participants write down their aspirations, which helped them focus on their goals and what they could do to achieve them. This simple activity encourages people to take a more promotion-focused mindset and reduces conspiracy belief.
While researchers have been able to reduce conspiratorial thinking in the lab, how applicable is this in the real world? In workplace settings, managers might employ this strategy to help minimize water-cooler worries, office gossip, and interpersonal friction. Regular discussions that center on employee goals and strategies to achieve those goals can help keep workers feeling more in control and less subject to corporate whims.

In terms of public health, organizations might start by promoting messages focused on realistic things people can do to take control of their own health. Building this sort of action-oriented mindset may help discourage belief in health-related conspiracies and build greater trust between medical organizations and health consumers.


A Word From Verywell

Conspiratorial thinking can be problematic and dangerous (Pizzagate, anyone?), but this does not mean that skepticism of institutions, marketing, and media messaging is not warranted. After all, not all conspiracies are false (the Tuskegee experiments and Iran-Contra are just a couple of examples).

As you encounter information from various sources, it is important to be able to distinguish between false conspiracy theories and real threats to personal security. While it may be tempting to ridicule conspiracy believers, remember that these sort of beliefs are actually pretty common — you probably even believe in some of them.

In a world where people feel the very real effects of power imbalances and distrust in leadership, conspiracy theories will naturally flourish. This means discouraging this type of thinking is not always easy.

RUSSIA!!!!
Enough said.
 

lurkerlion

Well-Known Member
Aug 2, 2011
1,177
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Qanon and Antifa plus a couple whackos are actually the same people. Crazies who choose one side or the other. Antifa is more closely aligned with the mainstream left than Qanon on the right. It is a waste of time to compare crazies.

On the other hand Russiagate was an insane but coordinated conspiracy theory which is probably still believed by a majority of the democrat party if only because of TDS.

Meanwhile we have Hunter…. The deep state said his laptop was Russian disinformation despite indisputable proof and the left chooses to believe the deep state.

Sorry, but crazy be crazy. Unfortunately both sides have too much crazy recently.
 

2lion70

Well-Known Member
Gold Member
Jul 1, 2004
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You’re one of the most dishonest people I know online, you bought hook, line , and sinker in Russia Gate. A democrat hoax .
The Russia investigation resulted in actual criminal charges being filed. Thatt means the investigation was not a conspiracy but the Trump campaign did seek and receive help from Russia. The conspracy theories that are bought into by conservatives and folks like you are made up and not based in fact. That means you and your ilk are delusional and buy into fantasies.
Your attack on me is further proof you are exactly what the article describes - someone who needs/seeks acceptance by believing falsehoods.
 
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2lion70

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Don't recall @2lion70 exhibiting the least amount of skepticism about the prolonged witch hunt to link Trump and Russian collusion.

Speak now, 2lion if you agree or disagree.
I disagree with your basic premise which is based in a falsehood. The Russia investigation did in fact show collusion and actual Russian support for the Trump campaign.
You can't say that about any of the delusional tripe you spout which has been shown time and again to be false. See the examples listed in the article.
 

2lion70

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Jul 1, 2004
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I'll throw in the conspiracy that Trump tried to overthrow the government. Or that the constant quest to mask kids isn't rooted in union $$$$
By constantly saying the election was stolen and there was a lot of fraud involved is an attempt to change the valid outcome of an election. That is in fact an attempt to overthrow the government - you're just too blinded by constant lies to see that.
Your conspiracy theory concerning unions, $$$, and masks is pure horse dung.
 

dailybuck777

Well-Known Member
Jan 2, 2018
10,911
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The Russia investigation resulted in actual criminal charges being filed. Thatt means the investigation was not a conspiracy but the Trump campaign did seek and receive help from Russia. The conspracy theories that are bought into by conservatives and folks like you are made up and not based in fact. That means you and your ilk are delusional and buy into fantasies.
Your attack on me is further proof you are exactly what the article describes - someone who needs/seeks acceptance by believing falsehoods.
100% proof that you are conspiracy theorist. Absolutely zero was proven about Russian collusion conspiracy. There was some collateral damages on matters like tax evasion, but nothing about collusion. In fact, the whole fake investigation was based on ridiculously stupid lies about Carter page who was an unpaid advisor and had never even met much less colluded with the two Russians mentioned in the four FISA applications.

You live in a fake world of lies and self-deception.
 

2lion70

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Gold Member
Jul 1, 2004
16,789
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100% proof that you are conspiracy theorist. Absolutely zero was proven about Russian collusion conspiracy. There was some collateral damages on matters like tax evasion, but nothing about collusion. In fact, the whole fake investigation was based on ridiculously stupid lies about Carter page who was an unpaid advisor and had never even met much less colluded with the two Russians mentioned in the four FISA applications.

You live in a fake world of lies and self-deception.
These charges are not fake:

All The Criminal Charges To Emerge From Robert Mueller's Investigation​

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December 9, 20187:00 AM ET
JASON BRESLOW
Twitter
gettyimages-699394184_wide-8cf1d7aa005369c894bf6cbca0f210826849dd41-s1100-c50.jpg


Robert Mueller leaves a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Updated April 12, 2019, at 9:12 p.m. ET
After nearly two years of work, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has officially drawn to a close. Mueller has submitted his findings to Attorney General William Barr, marking the end of an investigation that has resulted in criminal charges against 34 individuals. To date, the special counsel has secured seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial, but 25 Russians indicted by Mueller are unlikely to ever see a U.S. courtroom.
The Mueller Report Is Getting A Lot Of Attention. Here's How We Got Here

NATIONAL SECURITY

The Mueller Report Is Getting A Lot Of Attention. Here's How We Got Here

Among those ensnared by the probe have been the president's former personal attorney, officials from his 2016 campaign, former aides and advisers and members of Russian intelligence services. While the long-term political implications of the investigation remain far from certain, it has already generated new insights into how Russia targeted the 2016 election, the presidential transition and the Trump family's business empire.
 
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dailybuck777

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These charges are not fake:

All The Criminal Charges To Emerge From Robert Mueller's Investigation​

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flipboard
  • Email
December 9, 20187:00 AM ET
JASON BRESLOW
Twitter
gettyimages-699394184_wide-8cf1d7aa005369c894bf6cbca0f210826849dd41-s1100-c50.jpg


Robert Mueller leaves a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Updated April 12, 2019, at 9:12 p.m. ET
After nearly two years of work, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has officially drawn to a close. Mueller has submitted his findings to Attorney General William Barr, marking the end of an investigation that has resulted in criminal charges against 34 individuals. To date, the special counsel has secured seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial, but 25 Russians indicted by Mueller are unlikely to ever see a U.S. courtroom.
The Mueller Report Is Getting A Lot Of Attention. Here's How We Got Here's How We Got Here

NATIONAL SECURITY

The Mueller Report Is Getting A Lot Of Attention. Here's How We Got Here

Among those ensnared by the probe have been the president's former personal attorney, officials from his 2016 campaign, former aides and advisers and members of Russian intelligence services. While the long-term political implications of the investigation remain far from certain, it has already generated new insights into how Russia targeted the 2016 election, the presidential transition and the Trump family's business empire.
You are so stupid, you don't realize that none of the charges relate to collusion. If Hillary Clinton and her associates were subject to 2,500 subpoenas they would also find tax evasion and other similar type crimes.
 
Last edited:

lurkerlion

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Aug 2, 2011
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1. No charges remotely related to collusion in the Mueller probe. He charged some Russian bots for appearance sake. One guy went down for tax evasion. One guy guy got 9 days for denying he talked to someone whe he was surprised by the FBI—he was a nobody who had no input with anyone. 3 years wasted and tens of millions of dollars down the drain.

2. Durham has charged 2 people now. The 1st guy got off easy for altering an affidavit which is a very bad thing. It is especially bad thing when it showed that Carter Page was a CIA asset and not a ‘colluder.” The recent charge against Sussman is actually substantive in proving a conspiracy by Democrats if not Hillary herself. He billed the campaign for trying to sell the dossier to the FBI. We shall see if he wants to take the fall for everyone else.
 

2lion70

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Jul 1, 2004
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You are so stupid, you don't realize that none of the charges relate to collusion. If Hillary Clinton and her associates were subject to 2,500 subpoenas they would also find tax evasion and other similar type crimes. they would also find tax evasion and other similar type crimes.
Pure speculation concerning the Clintons. They have been under scrutiny for decades with nothing to show for it. Again you rely on unproven speculations to try to prove a point. That's why all the conservatives always end up with nothing - they make shit up and then say it often enough they believe it to be true.
You can't make truth from lies and false beliefs.
 

2lion70

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Jul 1, 2004
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1. No charges remotely related to collusion in the Mueller probe. He charged some Russian bots for appearance sake. One guy went down for tax evasion. One guy guy got 9 days for denying he talked to someone whe he was surprised by the FBI—he was a nobody who had no input with anyone. 3 years wasted and tens of millions of dollars down the drain.

2. Durham has charged 2 people now. The 1st guy got off easy for altering an affidavit which is a very bad thing. It is especially bad thing when it showed that Carter Page was a CIA asset and not a ‘colluder.” The recent charge against Sussman is actually substantive in proving a conspiracy by Democrats if not Hillary herself. He billed the campaign for trying to sell the dossier to the FBI. We shall see if he wants to take the fall for everyone else.
Very minor charges for lying. Not very much for a 2 year long investigation. Again, you are speculating about things with no facts.
 

lurkerlion

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Aug 2, 2011
1,177
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Pure speculation concerning the Clintons. They have been under scrutiny for decades with nothing to show for it. Again you rely on unproven speculations to try to prove a point. That's why all the conservatives always end up with nothing - they make shit up and then say it often enough they believe it to be true.
You can't make truth from lies and false beliefs.
You rely on gaslighting accusations to defend the Clintons? If so then Trump is a choirboy because he hasn’t been touched either.

Perhaps you should review how the Democrats talked about Hillary when she ran against Obama.
 
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dailybuck777

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Jan 2, 2018
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Pure speculation concerning the Clintons. They have been under scrutiny for decades with nothing to show for it. Again you rely on unproven speculations to try to prove a point. That's why all the conservatives always end up with nothing - they make shit up and then say it often enough they believe it to be true.
You can't make truth from lies and false beliefs.
Clinton's lawyers contrary to a court order destroyed about 30,000 emails and weren't even prosecuted for this crime. All sorts of dirt would have come out if they were subject to massive subpoenas and massive email snooping. Their documents weren't subpoenaed and their emails weren't spied on like the millions that Mueller snooped on and came up dry with respect to the actual charges.

Clinton was so innocent that they actually took a hammer to her cell phone and destroyed it. Impossible that someone as corrupt as Clinton doesn't have someone in her circle that didn't pay their taxes. (Manafort was snagged because there were emails where he detailed his plans to under report income which had zero to do with Trump campaign supposedly working in concert with Russians)
 
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BoulderFish

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Oct 31, 2016
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Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why?

It's beyond fascinating to me that after the last 18+ months, you can write such a thing.

You really have no idea how many conspiracy theories in which you have been up to your eye balls over the past 18 months, do you?

You making a post like this only illustrates your lack of critical thinking ability and hence vulnerability to the conspiracy theories that have guided your installed illogical belief system regarding this mess that has destroyed so many lives over the past 18 months.
 

m.knox

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106,255
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Yep it’s remarkable. It really kicked into high gear under Trump with his non stop lying about everything.

Even yesterday when Merck announced that break thru drug, they immediately went conspiracy theory about it. It permeates every aspect of their life.

LOL... From the clown that wanted to believe in the Russia hoax.
 

2lion70

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Jul 1, 2004
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You rely on gaslighting accusations to defend the Clintons? If so then Trump is a choirboy because he hasn’t been touched either.

Perhaps you should review how the Democrats talked about Hillary when she ran against Obama.
Name the exact things she has done that are in any way criminal. Baseless claims are the root of conspracy theories - not facts.
 

dailybuck777

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Jan 2, 2018
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Name the exact things she has done that are in any way criminal. Baseless claims are the root of conspracy theories - not facts.
She moved top secret documents to her private server. Whether it was intentional or the result of gross negligence that is a felony. The fact that she wasn't prosecuted for this obvious felony just shows how unequal the system of justice in the United States is. No question at all that she committed that crime.
 
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dailybuck777

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The Russians did interfere in our election process to the benefit of the Trump campaign.
I don't agree with your premise, but even if it was true the actual charge that precipitated the Mueller investigation was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia which it didn't. Russia and Trump didn't work together. To give this perspective, the United States has interfered in approximately 50 elections since about 1945. Russia was doing what many nations do and what the United States has done repeatedly.
 
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lurkerlion

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How did the Russians interfere? Several thousand dollars of Facebook ads by some Russian bots? Contrast that with Zuckerberg spending a couple hundred million dollars to harvest ballots in a handful of critical counties.
 

bdgan

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May 29, 2008
61,034
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Conspiracies seem to be very popular with the right wing/conservatives - why? There just may be some rational explanation

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories​

By
Kendra Cherry
Updated on September 19, 2020
Medically reviewed by
Steven Gans, MD
Steven Gans



Print
conspiracy theories


Verywell / Catherine Song

Table of Contents
Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, but they seem to have risen to the forefront of consciousness in recent years. Some controversial examples of such theories include the belief that terrorist attacks and mass shootings were staged events orchestrated by the U.S. government.

Other examples include the belief that the pharmaceutical industry intentionally spreads diseases or that vaccines cause illness rather than prevent them. While it might seem like these beliefs are rare or even pathological, research has shown that they are surprisingly common. One study found that half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.1

What Is a Conspiracy Theory?​

A conspiracy theory can be defined as the belief that there are groups that meet in secret to plan and carry out malevolent goals.
What explains this common and often deep-rooted belief that powerful, sinister, and secretive groups are conspiring to deceive others—particularly in a day and age where we have more access to information and facts that might debunk these ideas? Researchers suspect that there are a number of psychological mechanisms, many the result of evolutionary processes, that contribute to these beliefs.2

In a world where you might feel powerless and alienated, it can be appealing to believe that there are forces plotting against you and your interests. Once these beliefs take root, cognitive biases and mental shortcuts reinforce and strengthen them. Many of the same factors that fuel other types of problematic thinking, such as a belief in the paranormal, also contribute to conspiracy theories.

And while such paranoid ideas are not new, the internet has helped transform the speed and manner in which they spread. In order to understand why people believe in these conspiracies, it is important to explore some of the psychological explanations and the potential effects these beliefs have.

10 Cognitive Biases That Distort Your Thinking

Examples​

Some recent examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The Pizzagate conspiracy theory suggests that politicians and Hollywood elite are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring. One report found that 9% of respondents believed in this conspiracy.3
  • Another recent conspiracy stems from QAnon, a far-right conspiracy site claiming it has top-level knowledge of a secret "Deep State" working against President Donald Trump.4
  • The belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States was found to be believed by 11% of those surveyed in a study.5
  • Another conspiracy suggests that the billionaire George Soros is part of a secret plot to destabilize the U.S. government. Approximately 9% of respondents in one study indicated that they believe this to be true.5

Explanations​

Researchers suggest that there are a number of different reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Many of these explanations boil down to three key driving factors:

  • A need for understanding and consistency (epistemic)6
  • A need for control (existential)
  • A need to belong or feel special (social)6

Epistemic Reasons

Epistemic explanations refer to the desire to derive certainty and understanding. The world can often seem confusing, dangerous, and chaotic. At the same time, people want to understand what's happening and are driven to explain things that happen. Doing so helps them build up a consistent, stable, and clear understanding of how the world works.

Factors That Increase Conspiracy Belief

  • Situations involving large-scale events, where more mundane or small-scale explanations seem inadequate
  • Situations where people experience distress over uncertainty
When people encounter disparate information, it is only natural to look for explanations that connect the dots. Conspiracy theories offer explanations that provide this connection.

They also suggest that the underlying causes are hidden from public view. When confusing things happen, believers can then assume that it is because they are being intentionally deceived by outside forces. There is also a connection between conspiracy beliefs and educational levels. Lower educational status tends to be associated with higher levels of conspiracy belief.

Having lower analytical abilities and less tolerance for uncertainty also play a role. As a result, people turn to conspiracy theories to provide explanations for events that seem confusing or frightening.

The confirmation bias can also play a role in the development of conspiracy belief. People are naturally inclined to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs.7 So when they run across a theory that supports something that they already think is true, they are more likely to believe the information is also true.

How Your Brain Plays Tricks on You


Existential Reasons

There is also evidence that people turn to conspiracy theories as a way of feeling safer and more in control.8 When people feel threatened in some way, detecting sources of danger can be a way of coping with anxiety.

What The Research Suggests:

  • One study found that people who feel psychologically and sociopolitically disempowered are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.8
  • Another study found that people are also more likely to believe in conspiracies when they are experiencing anxiety.
While researchers understand these existential motivations, there is little evidence that believing in these theories actually helps people satisfy this need to feel control and autonomy. In fact, by believing in these theories, people may actually be less likely to engage in actions that would potentially boost their sense of control (such as voting or participating in political activity).

So while people may be drawn to conspiracy theories as a way of making sense of the world and feeling more in control of their own destiny, the long-term effects may actually leave people feeling more disempowered than ever before.


Social Reasons

People can also be motivated to believe in conspiracy due to social reasons. Some researchers have hypothesized that by believing in conspiracies that portray out-groups as the opposition, people are able to feel better about themselves and their own social group.2 Those who believe in the conspiracy feel that they are the “heroes” of the story, while those who are conspiring against them are “the enemy.”

Why People Believe In Conspiracies

  • They are on the “losing” side of a political issue.
  • They have a lower social status due to income or ethnicity.
  • They have experienced social ostracism.
  • They are prejudiced against “enemy” groups they perceive as powerful.
Such findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs might arise as a sort of defense mechanism. When people feel disadvantaged, they are motivated to find ways to boost their own self-perceptions. Blaming others by linking them to malevolent plots provides a scapegoat on which to lay blame, thus improving how conspiracy believers view themselves.

The belief in conspiracies is also rooted in what is referred to as collective narcissism. This is the belief that your own social group is better, yet less appreciated, by other people.

People who feel that they or their social group have been victimized are also less likely to believe in government institutions and more likely to believe in conspiracies.
The way in which people encounter and share these ideas should also be noted. It’s easy to dismiss a story shared by a random source that you don’t trust.

But when multiple people in your social circle who you do know and trust all seem to believe the same story, it starts to seem less like a silly conspiracy and more like a trusted fact. Sharing these kinds of stories within our networks gives social credence to such conspiratorial thinking.

How Your Decisions Are Biased by the First Thing You Hear


Effects

While researchers have some good theories about why people believe in conspiracies, it is less clear what the ultimate effects of these beliefs are.

What researchers have found is that while these beliefs are motivated by a desire to understand, exert control, and feel socially connected, these aren’t the effects people are deriving from their beliefs.6 Rather than fulfilling these needs, believing in conspiracies seems to reinforce feelings of confusion, isolation, disenfranchisement, and loneliness.

It is a destructive cycle—negative feelings contribute to the belief in conspiracies, yet the belief in conspiracies results in negative feelings. Believing in conspiracy theories erodes people’s trust in their government, their leaders, and their institutions.

It also diminishes trust in science and research itself. This distrust may discourage people from participating in their social worlds. It might also cause people to stop seeing themselves as valuable contributors to society.

Rather than helping people cope with their feelings of social alienation and political disenfranchisement, conspiracy beliefs seem to create a cycle of distrust that leads to even greater disempowerment.

Risks

Believing in things that are not true poses a number of dangers, which can have real effects that impact individual behavior and ultimately have a ripple impact on society as a whole. A resurgence in measles outbreaks in the U.S. has been largely attributed to a refusal by some individuals to vaccinate—a refusal that stems largely from the conspiratorial belief that vaccines cause autism and other health ailments.9

Failing to address dangerous misbeliefs presents a potential danger to public health and even the political process itself. Faulty beliefs lead can lead people to not vaccinate, not vote, or, in some rare cases, even engage in dangerous or violent behavior.

Types of Cognitive Biases That Distort How You Think


Overcoming Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

In the age of disinformation, finding ways to refute conspiracy beliefs seems more important than ever. Social platforms claim to be buckling down on those who peddle and profit off of conspiracies, but is it really possible to change such views once they’ve taken root? Some things to remember when trying to change someone's mind about a conspiracy theory.

Disputing a Belief May Lead to Resistance

One problem faced when trying to disprove conspiracy theories is that people who hold these beliefs also tend to suspect that there are factions engaged in covering up these activities. Those trying to debunk the mistaken beliefs are then viewed as simply being actors in the conspiracy itself.

While it might be tempting to simply mock conspiracy theories, especially the more ridiculous ones, this usually causes believers to dig in their heels and deepen their commitment to their belief.

Feeling In Control Reduces Conspiratorial Thinking

Many factors that contribute to conspiratorial beliefs, such as educational background and personality, are not easily or quickly changed. Researchers have found one tactic, however, that is effective — encouraging believers to pursue their goals.10

People tend to take one of two approaches in the pursuit of goals.


  • Those who are "promotion-focused" believe that they have the power and control to shape their future.
  • People who are "prevention-focused," on the other hand, are more focused on protecting what they already have rather than on achieving their goals.

So what does this have to do with conspiracy beliefs? Researchers found that promotion-focused people were more skeptical and less likely to buy into conspiracies.10

Why? People who believe that the future hinges on their own actions have a great deal of personal agency and control. It is this sense of autonomy and agency that makes people less likely to believe in secret plots and nefarious plans.

What the researchers also discovered was that giving people a nudge in the direction of a more promotion-focused mindset could actually reduce belief in conspiracies.10 In practical terms, promoting messages that help people feel more in control can minimize conspiratorial thinking.


Write It Down

Researchers had study participants write down their aspirations, which helped them focus on their goals and what they could do to achieve them. This simple activity encourages people to take a more promotion-focused mindset and reduces conspiracy belief.
While researchers have been able to reduce conspiratorial thinking in the lab, how applicable is this in the real world? In workplace settings, managers might employ this strategy to help minimize water-cooler worries, office gossip, and interpersonal friction. Regular discussions that center on employee goals and strategies to achieve those goals can help keep workers feeling more in control and less subject to corporate whims.

In terms of public health, organizations might start by promoting messages focused on realistic things people can do to take control of their own health. Building this sort of action-oriented mindset may help discourage belief in health-related conspiracies and build greater trust between medical organizations and health consumers.


A Word From Verywell

Conspiratorial thinking can be problematic and dangerous (Pizzagate, anyone?), but this does not mean that skepticism of institutions, marketing, and media messaging is not warranted. After all, not all conspiracies are false (the Tuskegee experiments and Iran-Contra are just a couple of examples).

As you encounter information from various sources, it is important to be able to distinguish between false conspiracy theories and real threats to personal security. While it may be tempting to ridicule conspiracy believers, remember that these sort of beliefs are actually pretty common — you probably even believe in some of them.

In a world where people feel the very real effects of power imbalances and distrust in leadership, conspiracy theories will naturally flourish. This means discouraging this type of thinking is not always easy.
Why do you libs keep bringing up the Russian collusion hoax?
 
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m.knox

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How did the Russians interfere? Several thousand dollars of Facebook ads by some Russian bots? Contrast that with Zuckerberg spending a couple hundred million dollars to harvest ballots in a handful of critical counties.

They instructed Hillary NOT to campaign in Wisconsin for 7 months prior to the election, THEN they forced Comey to tell the truth about Hillary's private server.

Dastardly.
 
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bourbon n blues

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1. No charges remotely related to collusion in the Mueller probe. He charged some Russian bots for appearance sake. One guy went down for tax evasion. One guy guy got 9 days for denying he talked to someone whe he was surprised by the FBI—he was a nobody who had no input with anyone. 3 years wasted and tens of millions of dollars down the drain.

2. Durham has charged 2 people now. The 1st guy got off easy for altering an affidavit which is a very bad thing. It is especially bad thing when it showed that Carter Page was a CIA asset and not a ‘colluder.” The recent charge against Sussman is actually substantive in proving a conspiracy by Democrats if not Hillary herself. He billed the campaign for trying to sell the dossier to the FBI. We shall see if he wants to take the fall for everyone else.
My brother in law mentored Carter Page and told me this four years ago. He called it a soft coup back then .
 

lurkerlion

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My brother in law mentored Carter Page and told me this four years ago. He called it a soft coup back then .
Does your brother in law have any other insight. It is so frustrating to get unreliable info from wonks who cherry-pick info to support their conclusions.

My pet peeve through Russiagate was that Hannity was more accurate than anyone else. He is not someone I would trust normally.
 
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pawrestlersintn

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Jan 26, 2013
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Name the exact things she has done that are in any way criminal. Baseless claims are the root of conspracy theories - not facts.
How about we send an independent counsel crawling up her ass for two years, and see what he finds, rather than have investigations done by political hacks in the House. Do you truly believe there are no skeletons in there?
 
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LaJollaLion

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They get social media interaction. Nice news or real news doesn’t get the interaction that hateful or dishonest information does. It’s the news media model now. Both parties have now adjusted to it and are fine with it. It’s good for business in their eyes. The problem is these are our lawmakers and they are both ok with the division growing wider. You just point to the other guy and play victim. Hate gets the clicks. This site is a perfect example of that. If this site didn’t generate clicks, it would be gone IMO. If offers really nothing positive at all.