The Psychology of Conspiracy

The science of understanding conspiracy theorists has never been more important than it is today, especially on the Facebook platform. In this article, we see some psychological reasons that people believe in these theories. Most notably in my mind, is number three: Ego boost and heroism. These are people who typically have low self-esteem and feel as if they have very little, to no control over their personal lives. They may be in an unsatisfying relationship, or yearn for a relationship but cannot find a mate. They are mostly likely male, though certain types of females are also prone to this behavior. They may also closely identify with Jordan Peterson’s ideas, and may even consider themselves as an, “incel,” or involuntarily celibate. Either way, holding a “truth” that they believe few others have, they feel a sense of importance. We’ve already seen where they grossly over-estimate their own intellectuality, so it makes sense to them that they would have figured the conspiracy out while others are simply too dumb to get it.

I agree with the article in that the attributes of those who espouse conspiracy theories doesn’t necessarily make the things they are saying false. But we can look at the patterns of their arguments, their sources or lack thereof, and the overall theme of their theories and figure out whether or not the conspiracy theorist is credible. Their themes usually fall into a political line, like Alex Jones.

Regardless of the source, their misinformation promotes dangerous behavior. We’re currently still battling a pandemic they themselves have actively made worse. Refusing to get vaccinated will only allow variants continue to propagate and spread. So with that, I agree with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla who recently stated that those who spread misinformation are criminals. You can believe whatever goofy nonsense you want, but when you spread it to other people you put their lives in danger.