Conspiracy Theories. Why do we love them so much?

What are they hiding in Area 51? Is Subliminal advertising real? Where is bigfoot cryogenically preserved? Did they really replace Avril Lavigne? Was the American Horror Story right about Nixon’s Watergate scandal?

From the Moon Landing being staged to the Illuminati controlling the content we consume. There’s probably a thread, explaining in great detail the sinister motives and elaborate plans by the government to control us. This is not an investigative study into one of the many conspiracy theories floating around. This is not a deduction of whether they are true or not. This is A written account of a curious mind, from one conspiracy theory enthusiast to another.

Popular conspiracy theories

  1. The Watergate Scandal

  2. area 51

  3. Was Avril Lavigne replaced with a clone?

  4. Moon Landing. staged?

  5. The Earth is actually flat

So why do we love them?

Why do we latch on to them? What is it about these theories? Is it that it tickles our sense of wonder? Does it make us feel like we are on to something big? Profound perhaps? Is it a way of understanding how we humans function and behave?

There is a growing number of people who believe that the earth is flat. There are perhaps only a handful of Americans who haven’t heard of QAnon and there’s a very devoted section of people spending hours trying to debunk moon landing claims. Conspiracy theories and our proclivity to thick, sinister, secret plots aren’t new.

Let’s start with this – for every conspiracy video on YouTube or Reddit threads, how many people go back and fact-check? You’d be surprised as to how many videos are replete with false data. This brings me to my next question – Why would someone do this? There are a number of reasons – political gain, financial gain, tarnishing a brands’ image, inflated sense of intelligence, and heightened illusory bias.

Illusory Patterns

Ever seen certain shapes in the clouds or distinct patterns on a busy wallpaper? It’s a common phenomenon called Illusory Pattern Perception. Research by Vrije University Amsterdam finds that illusory pattern perception is at the center of irrational beliefs and fears. It suggests that the desire to feel in control often takes center stage when people feel they lack control in certain aspects of their life. Such heightened subjectivity of perception is a way of making sense of the world around them for some. People are often more inclined to give in to such theories and phenomena when faced with adversity or uncertainty. It was also found to be heightened in those who tend to be more inclined and sensitive to paranormal beliefs. We have all heard of classical conditioning – Pavlov’s experiment being the most commonly used example – this isn’t much different either. While there are a lot of variations in pattern perception, there is evidence to suggest that there is a direct link between belief in the Perception of patterns and belief in a conspiracy theory.

Could this be the reason behind such esoteric and abstract surreal creations of Dali and Magritte?

Arrangement

But that’s been the case with everything we believe in. Hasn’t it? It’s our ideas, experiences, and beliefs that shape us after all. But another pattern that has emerged out of this is the fact that conspiracy theories may be more prevalent in certain geographical regions than others. Now, what explains that? For instance, as per a study by UNICEF 43% of people worldwide believe in conspiracy theories regarding vaccines and the concealment of pertinent information regarding vaccines. Out of which the percentage of people who believed that information on harmful effects of vaccines was being hidden, was the highest in South Africa – at 57%. And the lowest in Denmark – at 14%. So can we look at the history and discern why one of the two would be more inclined to believe in such theories than the others? Seems likely. One google click and you can find at least 100 articles and threads that support such theories. Soon you’ll be recommended accounts on social media that also have similar leanings. And then starts the procession of targeted ads & posts. Back to square one, are we?

Conspiracies and superstitions

Are we more likely to believe in conspiracy theories based on our religious leanings? Or lack thereof? Superstition and conspiracy theories are not synonymous but are equally rampant in our society. A study by the Erasmus School of Philosophy reveals that both may be a way for individuals to cope with uncertainty. This seems to be a recurring theme. And I have to say – it’s not very pleasant either. Is it a by-product of us trying to feed our curious mind or just uncertainty and deep-rooted fears that we are trying to cope with?
Really, where is Freud when you need him?

The ominous conundrum

That being said, do we shun conspiracy theories altogether? I say we consume them the way we would a sci-fi movie or a drama series. We see them, we read them and we love and/or hate them. Fact check, fact check and fact check. Learn more about the source of information. Do your own research.
Either way, what fun!

All the scientific jargon aside, the explanation does make sense, doesn’t it? Or maybe, this is just another painstakingly elaborate plot right out of your MK-Ultra nightmares. You know what they say, when you truly want something all of deep state conspires in order for you to achieve it. Wait…..that’s not the original quote? Oh well!

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