When alternative explanations are more likely, a conspiracy theory is an explanation for an occurrence or circumstance that evokes a conspiracy by evil and powerful organizations, generally with political motivations. The phrase has a negative connotation too, meaning that the appeal to a conspiracy is motivated by bias or a lack of proof. A conspiracy theory is not the same as a conspiracy; rather, it is a speculated conspiracy with special features, such as resistance to the mainstream consensus among those equipped to judge its accuracy.
Conspiracy theories are resistant to falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning: both evidence against the conspiracy and a lack of evidence for it are re-interpreted as evidence of its truth, transforming the conspiracy into a matter of faith rather than something that can be proven or disproven. Learn more in this article.
What are conspiracy theories?
A conspiracy or conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that holds a secret group or organization responsible for carrying out a secret conspiracy behind it, rejecting the standard explanation behind an event or situation.
A deeper meaning of the term conspiracy or conspiracy theory is that the appeal of a conspiracy is based on prejudice, probable or insufficient evidence. Conspiracy theories oppose falsification and are reinforced by circular reasoning, both the evidence against the conspiracy and the absence of evidence for it is reinterpreted as evidence of its truth, thereby proving or impeding the conspiracy Instead becomes a matter of trust.
Examples of conspiracy theories –
People may refer to any topic as a conspiracy or conspiracy theory, but some topics attract more interest than others, such as famous deaths and murders, morally dubious government activities, suppressed technologies and terrorism e.t.c.
For example, “secret society or organization” which has always been seen as a conspiracy or conspiracy theory, besides John F. The Kennedy assassination, the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, the 9/11 terrorist attack, the 26/11 Mumbai attack that was set to be named Hindu terrorism, which later proved to be false. And so many different theories, both real and imaginary groups, of long-recognized conspiracies concerning alleged plots for world domination.
Today in the 21st-century conspiracy theories are widely present on the web, on blogs, and on YouTube videos as well as on social media. Whether the web has increased the prevalence of conspiracy theories is an open research question. The presence and representation of conspiracy theories in search engine results have been monitored and studied, showing significant variation in various disciplines, and the general absence of respected, high-quality links in results.
Why do we believe in conspiracy theories?
In the modern era, where today there are so many means of information and data sharing, the truth behind any cause or event cannot be hidden from the people and it is not hidden, lately, the truth is revealed to everyone, but yet today people are misled by some designer journalists and people with high status in the society. Most people trust anyone just listening to them, they do not exercise their discretion and reasoning power and therefore do not know the truth.
Confidence in conspiracy theories is usually based not on evidence, but the believer’s belief. Seeing every subject as a conspiracy or conspiracy theory leads people to reject science and its methods as a source of instruction. So most people rely on irrational things with emotional honesty, the truth of intuition, and no factual truth, This not only widens the gap between modern science experts and non-experts but also changes the thinking of the person psychologically.
Therefore conspiracy theories now spread like an epidemic in the modern era becoming an established feature of the political landscape, and disrupt democracy by jeopardizing democracy by deliberately poisoning the ability of voters on issues of human life, health, and justice. In all, people having a high place in society and media houses or news is playing a big role in creating and spreading conspiracy theories.
Scientific research suggests that at the psychological level, belief in conspiratorial thoughts or conspiracy theories can be harmful or pathological, and is highly correlated with psychological projection as well as paranoia, predicting an individual’s degree of Machiavellianism. It is done from the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories that are strongly associated with the mental health disorder of “schizotypy”. Conspiracy theories once confined to fringe audiences have become increasingly common in the media, emerging as a cultural phenomenon in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
According to psychology, the reasons for believing in conspiracy theories are divided into three categories, whose detail is explained below.
According to psychology, the reasons for believing in conspiracy theories are divided into three categories.
- The want for praise and certainty.
- The want for control and security.
- Willingness to maintain an effective self-image.
The want for praise and certainty –
Exploring explanations for opportunities has always been a human desire. Why does it rain on the same day when I go out? Why can’t you understand what I’m trying to tell you? and Similar questions.
Surprisingly, we not only ask questions, but soon find solutions to these questions too and the answers are not always authentic, but the answer is something that always matches our thinking. Like, whenever I go out it rains the same day because I have the worst luck or Bhagwan always does this to me only. You cannot understand what I am trying to tell you because you are not familiar with this fact or you are not listening to me.
We all bear false beliefs, that is, the things we believe to be genuine are true. For example, if you believe that Dubai is the capital of the UAE, then you are suffering from a false belief. But once you know the truth about the fact that Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, you will easily change your mind. After all, you were simply misinformed, and you are no longer emotionally invested in it.
Conspiracy theories are false beliefs with the help of such additional definitions. But those who believe them to be true, have an inherent activity in maintaining their thinking. First, they make some effort to appreciate conspiracy-theory explanations for this phenomenon, whether it be analyzing books, visiting websites, or aiding their beliefs by watching TV programs as per their thinking. Uncertainty is an unpleasant situation, and conspiracy theories present a sense of appreciation and certainty that is reassuring.
The want for control and security –
People need to feel that they have full complete control over their lives, not by someone else’s. For example, many people feel safer when they are the driver in the vehicle themselves than a passenger. Of course, even first-rate drivers may be involved in accidents for reasons beyond their control.
Similarly, conspiracy theories can provide a sense of management and security to their believers. This is especially real when the alternative account feels threatened. For example, if world temperatures are rising disastrously due to human activity, then I have to make painful adjustments to my comfortable lifestyle. But if experts and politicians guarantee me that warming internationally is a hoax, then I can live in my contemporary way. This type of indicated logic is an important issue in conspiracy theory assumptions.
Willingness to maintain an effective self-image –
We all have to maintain a positive self-image, which comes from the roles we normally play in life, in which our jobs, our relationships with family and friends play a greater role. For example, when we as parents, husbands, friends, coaches, or mentors know that we can make a positive change in the lives of others, then we see our personal lives as appropriate, And we also feel positive and good about ourselves.
But when we find ourselves socially marginalized or at different addresses or feeling socially excluded, we begin to believe in conspiracy theories based on the beliefs, opinions, or opinions of others about conspiracy theories. Here too we form our thoughts based on the beliefs, opinions, or opinions of those people, whom we believe more, whom we follow, or whom we see or hear every day, And don’t even use our reasoning power to understand the facts and truths. ( Research shows that humans who are socially marginalized or dissimilar tend to believe more in conspiracy theories.)
For example, most people who think climate change is right, are real people, not because they recognize science, not because experts believe it. Rather, for the reason that they have complete control over themselves and they assess everything based on their questions, based on their discretion and reasoning. And so, when you start fumbling with evidence against climate change, a real-looking counter-argument can be difficult. You all feel that the idea of conspiracy seems too problematic to be true.
Now we have a correct understanding of how people get motivated to agree with conspiracy theories. And we also know that according to psychology the reasons for believing in conspiracy theories are divided into three categories – The want for praise and certainty, The want for control and security, the Willingness to maintain an effective self-image, But do conspiracy-theory beliefs help humans to meet these needs?
Research and studies have determined that when university students are exposed to conspiracy theories, they demonstrate an accelerated sense of insecurity. This has led some researchers to conclude that conspiracy-theory belief is self-defeating. However, as a factor in Douglas and his colleagues, most college students have little motivation to agree with conspiracy theories in the first place. They certainly require designed studies that have been studied without delay that already agree with conspiracy theories.
Despite the implications of these future studies, the real question for us now is how do we avoid such conspirators in our lives? You can offer conspirators to counter theirs by your conscience and reasoning, science and facts. But sometimes it will happen that you will not be able to succeed in the debate, it is because you have the facts. While arguing that the conspirators are defending their experience of protection and their overwhelming feelings about themselves. And for all of us, the self-image supersedes the facts every time.
To reduce the influence of conspirators and conspiracy theories, we have to remove the veil from all conspiracies and conspirators, appealing to mainstream experts, scientific papers, facts, or reading more science. Providing people with better tools to build an understanding of their personal, political and social experiences may be more effective. Along with this, the three psychological reasons that gave rise to conspiracies (whom we have discussed above ) – The want for praise and certainty, The want for control and security, and the Willingness to maintain an effective self-image.
Apart from this, we also have to avoid conspiracy, and conspiracy theories by scientific facts, reasoning, and prudence. What is true and what is false, we do not have to judge it by relying on irrational things with one’s emotional honesty, the truth of intuition, and without factual truth. We do not have to make our views based on the beliefs, opinions, or opinions of anyone. Rather, we have to decide after considering it by factual veracity, scientific evidence, tests, and goodwill with our reasoning and prudence. Only then can we build a better and great society.
If you like this topic and this article, then share it with your friends so that they too can avoid conspiracy and conspiracy theories. Thank you.
- Dr. Belle Monappa Hegde (Dr. B.M. Hegde)
- Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 538-542.
- “conspiracy theory”. Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) “the theory that an event or phenomenon occurs as a result of a conspiracy between interested parties; spec. a belief that some covert but influential agency (typically political in motivation and oppressive in intent) is responsible for an unexplained event”
- Fenster, Mark (2008). Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. University of Minnesota Press; 2nd edition. ISBN978-0-8166-5494-9.
- Swami, Viren; Coles, Rebecca; Stieger, Stefan; Pietschnig, Jakob; Furnham, Adrian; Rehim, Sherry; Voracek, Martin (2011). “Conspiracist ideation in Britain and Austria: Evidence of a Monological belief system and associations between individual psychological differences and real-world and fictitious conspiracy theories”. British Journal of Psychology. 102 (3): 443–463. DOI:10.1111/j.2044-8295.2010.02004.x. ISSN2044-8295. PMID21751999.
This Article was Published On: 15 March, 2020 And Last Modified On: 19 June, 2022
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