In our everyday life, we are exposed to a variety of news that are hard to believe. For the most time, we give them no thought, laugh it off and move on with our lives. But every now and then, a primitive itch forces us to linger on the issue, to think about the reason, and to find another explanation for it. If we spare too much time to dig into the details of it, we might find some conspiracy theories about them; and we might even actually catch ourselves nodding along as we read more and more.
But why do we believe in these conspiracy theories? While it is true that some people are more inclined to seek the truth in conspiracy theories, there are often more underlying reasons why people find them credible. Conspiracy theories can influence a certain group of people more than others; however, we must keep in mind that it is possible to dispel the tendency to believe in these uncertain explanations.
Two main reasons can be put forth to explain the similarity between conspiracy theory believers. Firstly, these people are poorly educated or have a faulty upbringing. When a person is not trained to think hard to find answers, they take the most accessible idea as the main source of the problem. Secondly, researchers are inclined to believe that a combination of certain personality traits, namely “schizotypy”, is one of the main reasons why a person believes in conspiracy theories. Not only are these people educationally lacking but they are also wired the same way.
The reason why a person believes in conspiracy theories may differ. According to Kendra Cherry, there are three driving factors for these people: epistemic, existential, and social. They turn to false realities to make sense the world around them and to suppress their own anxieties and fears. They need validation for why nothing goes right in their lives and it is easier to point their finger at “the assigned vigilante” that their group full of other conspiracy believers also condemned guilty. Therefore, the need to be accepted in a group of people who have the same frame of mind as you can motivate you into considering the possibility of these schemes.
Even though it sounds challenging, these people can always choose not to believe in these conspiracy theories. But how? Researchers from the University of Illinois suggest that people with a good understanding of how news media work will not easily believe in conspiracy theories. A great responsibility falls on the journalists who should make sure that the article they publish is coherent and not cynical; so that, the reader will not feel the need to turn to conspiracy theories. In light of this information, it is safe to say that to educate ourselves about media is crucial.
All things considered, conspiracy theories are harmful; not just for the individual, but for the society. We must make sure that we are receiving a proper education that fuels our curiosity. News media outlets need to authenticate their pieces of news, and we need to teach ourselves not to believe in everything we read. In conclusion, it is an individual’s duty to refute a conspiracy theory, even when we are ready to instinctually take it as the ultimate reason.