Why Beguiling Conspiracy Theories Exist

CrowdScience / BBC (8/3/20)

Listener Avalon from Australia wants to know why people use conspiracy theories to explain shocking events. Are we more likely to believe conspiracy theories in times of adversity? What purpose do conspiracy theories serve in society?

Marnie Chesterton speaks to the scientists to explain their popularity, even in the face of seemingly irrefutable evidence.

Link To 39-Minute Audio


Neuroscientist Explains Why Christian Evangelicals Are Wired To Believe Trump’s Gaslighting Lies

By Bobby Azarian
Raw Story (8/3/20)

President Donald Trump lies so often that it is no longer shocking when it happens, no matter how blatant or absurd the falsehood may be. Not only does Trump regularly exaggerate the truth, he frequently denies facts that can be observed directly from video or audio tapes. This has led some professionals to diagnose his lying as compulsive or pathological, and many psychologists have pointed out that he is constantly gaslighting his base—a term that refers to a strategic attempt to get others to question their direct experience of reality.

One reason Trump supporters believe his lies comes from a basic fact about the brain: it takes more mental effort to reject an idea as false than to accept it as true. In other words, it’s easier to believe than to not.

With so much evidence to contradict his claims, like having the largest inauguration crowd size despite pictures clearly showing otherwise, one must wonder how there are still people out there who believe anything the man says. But the fact of the matter is there are many who swallow it hook, line, and sinker. Most of his fervent supporters are convinced that Trump is the harbinger of truth when it comes to important issues like climate change—which is really just a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government”.

While this might sound laughable, it is a serious problem, as it has contributed to fake news and dangerous propaganda running rampant. Given its negative impact on society, it is important to understand why certain groups of people are more vulnerable to believing unsupported lies than others. For this, we must look to science for answers, and fortunately, the fields of psychology and neuroscience offer valuable insight. …

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