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There are now 8 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Anon says

    I mean, personally I would equate it more to people lacking humility and refusing to admit that they could be wrong, combined with a persecution complex where they have to imagine themselves to be the perpetual underdog hero against an “evil” regime. But the sacrifice angle works too, I guess.

    • There’s also the fact that our brains are so incredible at pattern-spotting, that most of our brains have active filters preventing unlikely conclusions from being sent to the conscious “thinking” part of the brain in the first place. But there are a few mental disorders where those filters are weakened or missing. So what to you or me may just be coincidence—like seeing a blue car three times the same week—to them can appear as purposeful, that they’re under surveillance. I can’t imagine the suffering such people must endure. There are tons of apparent-but-not-real patterns out there, and who knows how many private conspiracy theories are born of such mental illness.

      Sis here is talking more about the conspiracy theories that catch on to a large number of people. All those people don’t all have broken filters, the vast majority have normally-functioning brains. So she’s wondering if there might be something other than mental illness that makes people become such ardent adherents of weird theories, perhaps our communal instincts.

      I let her run on like that here because her thoughts might help inform some concepts we’ll be exploring later in this section, and some of the topics of Con Law to come.

  2. Sean says

    I think this also explains why conspiracy theories often become so complicated. Part of the give and take of these communities of belief is that they’ll believe the nonsense you bring to the table if you believe the nonsense that’s already at the table, and so with each new belief that gets integrated the theory becomes just a bit more convoluted. That’s how you end up with people in Arizona checking ballots for traces of bamboo hoping to prove they came from China. Apparently it was a pet theory of one of the Stop the Steal people and the others just went along with it.

    And before anyone says anything, yes, I am describing a dynamic that was originally modeled in a Simpsons episode.

  3. So, you have two main issues:

    1. How to switch people to more mainstream thinking.

    2. What if the alternate idea is more correct? This is sometimes seen in science when the mainstreamers don’t want to hear that everything they’ve learned and taught others is based on a lesser theory. Plate tectonics is one such idea which had an uphill battle.

  4. right now i am in the midst of an uphill battle regarding Ranked-Choice Voting. there’s a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do it and FairVote is promoting the wrong way.

  5. STM says

    Do conspiracy theorists believe deep down that the “theory” is false? Sis’ narrative would imply that they do. Has this explanation been seriously proposed in anthropology or cognitive science?

    Vaccines/autism began as an intentional fraud.

    • It wasn’t supposed to imply that. Sharing the belief and being steadfastly true to it are the sacrifices that build a sense of community, which reinforce the belief, which reinforces the community, and so on. Not just conspiracy theories, but certain emphatic religious beliefs, political beliefs, and more.

      Flat earth began as an online joke, didn’t it? And didn’t Qanon start as a /pol/ troll? Doesn’t matter if vaccines/autism started from an intentional fraud; what matters is why it has such staying power in the face of the facts. Their truth is more important than the facts, and our social instincts can explain why that happens (a lot of the time, anyway).

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