Science explains why people believe in conspiracies – teach me about science

Bill Gates, one of the most influential people in the world, was a target of proponents of unfounded theories. Why do some people choose these theories? (Photo: Getty Images for The New York Times).

There are certain readings that can be completely silly, funny, or rather a joke, but some take them seriously. This is something that’s been around for a long time, although we’ve been able to see a boom since the pandemic. The denier and anti-vaccine community is noteworthy, especially on social networks. Is there a reason why these people choose to believe in conspiracies?

Of course, when something is familiar, people often accept lies, and this only goes further, science explains several reasons. We can start with what you have already suspected, that’s right, belief in conspiracies is associated with a reduced ability to think critically.

You may be a free thinker, but you are not a critical thinker. In last year’s studyThe researchers demonstrated this idea, it is true that believers in conspiracies have a less developed critical thinking ability.

This is also something that many have already noticed, conspiracy advocates often lose control easily, and end up insulting their peers or falling into arrogance. previous investigation It was found that people who display a complex mix of traits including narrow-mindedness, indecency, impulsiveness, and negative influence are more likely to have conspiracy theories. In other words, conspiracy believers have an exaggerated perception of their intellectual capacity, as if ignorance itself provides an overconfidence.

Since we mention certain individual personality traits, narcissism is also included. Karen Douglas, Ph.D.D., a professor of social psychology at the University of Kent, explains that both narcissism at the individual level and at the group level are associated with belief in conspiracies.

Recently One study evaluated unfounded epistemological beliefs, with an emphasis on belief in astrology. The results revealed that narcissism was the strongest predictor and intelligence showed a negative relationship. The authors speculated that this is because astrological predictions and horoscopes tend to be framed positively, “and this promotes great feelings and thus may attract more narcissists.”

The other reason is that they may seek refuge in which they feel special, believing that the idea has been discredited by the majority and that being part of the minority can satisfy this need. The literature tells us that such irrational beliefs are motivated by a desire to stand out from the crowd, and a need for individuality. from him The researchers conducted the experimentswhich showed that fictional conspiracy theory receives more support from people with a high conspiracy mindset when this theory is said to be supported by only a minority.

We cannot ignore the times of stress and uncertainty we live in, as they can be the driving force behind the emergence of conspiracy theories. A neuroscientist explains in a video that a feeling of powerlessness can force a person to try to find order in chaos, associating it with imaginary patterns.

“The human brain is linked to seeing patterns that help us survive,” says neuroscientist Shannon O’Dell. “Perception of patterns can save our lives. Pattern processing is becoming more complex as the cerebral cortex expands, particularly the prefrontal cortex and areas involved in image processing.” However, this survival mechanism can be disrupted. “As we have evolved, the brain has become so good at finding patterns that it sometimes sees a pattern in completely disconnected data,” Odell explains.

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