Conspiracy theories have existed ever since ancient times, but they now seem more relevant than ever. When compared to more consequential opinions like whether vaccines are safe or if the USA 2020 election was rigged, seemingly innocuous ideas like whether the moon landing was a hoax seem like a child's play. Do you know why people fall for conspiracy theories?
Conspiracy theories are rampant in the Covid-19 era. Some believe the virus was produced by the military, while others attribute the symptoms to 5G technology, and some even believe the virus does not exist. Conspiracy theories, on the other hand, are nothing new. They’ve always been a style of thinking that people resort to when they’re in a dilemma. Conspiracy theories are extremely common, and they appear to exist in both modern and traditional communities. There has never been a society that does not believe in conspiracies.
What exactly comprises a conspiracy theory has been agreed upon by social scientists. A look at the core aspects of a conspiracy theory can help explain why the era of social media, increasing news consumption, and the confusion that accompanied a new virus created the ideal atmosphere for conspiracies to form.
Understanding Conspiracy Theories
The idea of powerful groups of people carrying out secretive operations that are hidden from public observation is central to conspiracy theories. This signifies that proving them wrong would be pretty hard. A conspiracy theorist is inclined to assume that everyone who tries to disprove their idea is complicit in it and is a member of the conspiracy.
A scientific publication broke down conspiracy theories into five basic components that are always present.
1. An idea about how individuals and events are connected in some way or form a pattern
2. In their acts, the conspirators are deliberate
3. A collection of dishonest, bad actors are working together to achieve a common goal (lone wolf explanations do not meet the definition of a conspiracy theory)
4. The conspirators are threatening to hurt others
5. The conspirators operate in secrecy, which explains why there is typically little proof and makes them difficult to deny
There is no proof that there are more conspiracy theories now than there were in previous eras. There are just far more effective and efficient ways of magnifying any particular conspiracy now. Any concept, no matter how ridiculous, can now spread at the speed of Wi-fi.
Social media and other news sources can disseminate any opinion on the internet. People are fed more and more of a concept depending on their proven interest in a belief system since social media platforms, in particular, are built to enhance user engagement. This resulted in two or more simultaneous streams of knowledge and entirely diverse interpretations of the events of 2020.
Nearly 70% of individuals throughout the world have increased their news intake to understand more about the coronavirus, according to a survey. Everyone was understandably preoccupied with determining how the virus would affect their health, their families, and their companies.
This, along with a strained healthcare system, constant anxiety, and a multitude of unresolved questions, produced fertile ground for a “huge infodemic,” as the World Health Organization (WHO) put it. This word was coined to indicate how much of the news that people receive is either fake or politically motivated.
According to studies, the majority of information concerning the pandemic was accurate, but incorrect information appeared to be disseminated and spread more widely.
Why Are Conspiracy Theories Believable
Conspiracy theories employs of some of the most fundamental aspects of human nature. The human mind is constantly looking for patterns in its surroundings. Humans are also constantly on the lookout for their tribe or people with whom they have a bond. Conspiracy theories use these human characteristics and provide us with explanations that make us feel safer.
We all have a brain that takes shortcuts, makes assumptions, and acts irrationally. The sooner we grasp this and stop treating loved ones who have accepted conspiratorial ideas and hopeless cases, the better chance we have of reducing the beliefs that endanger our democracy and public health. After all, we’re all human. Except for the lizard people, of course.