Many conspiracy theories are obviously wacked. But the main problem with many critics of conspiracy theories is that they simply assume that the values and ideological framework of centrist liberalism or social democracy are “true” in the manner of revealed religion as opposed to being just another set of preferences or institutional arrangements.
Conspiracy theories are as old as time but it’s only in more recent years that psychologists have begun to unravel the belief that some people have in them. According to researcher Goertzel (1994), conspiracy theories are explanations that refer to hidden groups working in secret to achieve sinister objectives.
Whether it’s the killing of a U.S. President (Kennedy), a mass-shooting involving a seemingly-normal older white, adult male (Las Vegas), or the Charlie Hebdo murders, conspiracy theories are never far behind. Even climate change has a conspiracy theory attached to it (the U.S. government is to blame, naturally).
What drives people’s belief in these “out there” explanations for significant events? Let’s find out.