Blog Post #2 – Inquiry Project Plan – Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Hey everyone! This semester of Social Responsibility I have chosen to undertake another inquiry project. The question I will attempt to answer this time will be: “Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?” I find this question incredibly interesting and exceedingly relevant today, judging by recent events, including, but not limited to, the theory that the COVID-2019 pandemic is a con being pulled off by governments, as well as the rich and powerful, and the theory that the 2020 U.S. election was somehow rigged in favor of the Democratic Party and its candidate (now U.S. President-elect), Joe Biden. This topic has always puzzled me; I find it so very strange that such large groups of people can be so easily duped into believing such absurd and far-fetched ideas. Hopefully reading this has peaked your interest in this topic and you continue to stay tuned for my future posts!

My research rounds will go as follows:

  1. “What are conspiracy theories and how do we identify them?” (This will help establish at minimum a basic understanding of what does and what does not qualify as a conspiracy theory and how we can see if we have started to believe in some ourselves.)
  2. “Why are people drawn to conspiracy theories?” (This will help us understand why individuals are attracted to such outlandish and strange ideas, ignoring proven facts and logic in favor of unsubstantiated claims.)
  3. “How can you defend yourself from being sucked into believing conspiracy theories?” (While this will divulge slightly from the main topic, it will significantly aid our overall understanding of the phenomenon of conspiracy theories and help us keep our everyday thinking based in logic and proven fact.)

Some resources I may use are:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/fighting-disinformation/identifying-conspiracy-theories_en

https://www.newscientist.com/term/conspiracy-theories/

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0963721417718261

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/26/906333307/why-many-people-are-drawn-to-conspiracy-theories

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/why-uncertain-times-make-us-susceptible-to-conspiracy-theories–and-how-to-protect-yourself/2020/10/16/21becf08-0f1a-11eb-8a35-237ef1eb2ef7_story.html

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/why-do-people-believe-in-conspiracy-theories.html

I strongly believe that this topic is one of the most important and relevant topics in the world at this time. Thinking and the ideas that are produced by it are instrumental in virtually everything we do, and when this logical and calculating process is poisoned by unproven and unsubstantiated explanations and ideas, our collective intelligence suffers. In researching this topic, I intend to help educate all of you on the many ways conspiracy theories have subtly, as well as at times not so subtly, infiltrated our pensive process, and in doing so help you make informed decision on what you should and should not believe in.

3 Replies to “Blog Post #2 – Inquiry Project Plan – Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?”

  1. Hello Victor,

    Galicia here! I find that your last inquiry project and this one both explore things that the average population gaze over, but have so much more of an impact that we know. I am most definitely looking forward to your third round, especially. “How can you defend yourself from being sucked into believing conspiracy theories?” Perhaps you could even tie your social media inquiry project to this a bit, what do you think?

    I have two questions:
    1. Are you interested in mystery and considering something to do with it in your future?
    2. Will you be including the Mandela Effect into your inquiry research project? (For more details, you can look here: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/mandela-effect#:~:text=The%20Mandela%20effect%20is%20an%20unusual%20phenomenon%20where%20a%20large,imperfect%20memory%20can%20be%20sometimes.) – “The Mandela effect is an unusual phenomenon where a large group of people remember something differently than how it occurred.”

    I had thought about it once you referred the 2020 U.S. Elections.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Warm Regards,

    Galicia.

  2. Hi Victor,

    Interesting question; I think it could do a lot of good to understand why we are so suspicious and have conspiracy theories. It can be hard to know what to believe especially now where we have so much freedom on the internet. Trust is extremely crucial in our world and I think sometimes fame and gossip take over. Have you thought about asking why people would create conspiracy theories? It could be cool to know if it’s because they are manipulative or something more malicious. Here are some links you can check out.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/why-people-latch-on-to-conspiracy-theories-according-to-science
    https://www.npr.org/2019/08/13/750897686/how-and-why-people-come-up-with-conspiracy-theories
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0963721417718261

    Good luck!

    Shieva Mokhtarnameh

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Shieva! I think the idea you mentioned is actually really interesting; I never thought of researching why people feel inclined to make up theories they know are false and spread them around. I will be sure to try to include some research on that in my future posts!

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