Offbeat — 12 June 2013

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories

The recent Boston marathon bombings followed by the allegation of the woman (whose sons were found culprits in planting the bombs) that government was conspiring against his innocent son made me think about conspiracy theories. What is so intriguing about conspiracy theories that people believe in them despite all the evidence indicating diametrically opposite facts?

Some psychologists believe that in some strange way it is inherent in human nature to believe in some theories at all costs, irrespective of pragmatic evidence. People also feel good when they think they are right.  People tend to notice and seek out details about things which support their views and opinions and simultaneously reject the evidence which go against their beliefs. This phenomenon is known as “motivational reasoning”.

Over a period of time, people tend to forget their reasons behind believing in things but continue believing in things, making their resolve stronger. If, somebody has made strong emotional investment, for example a belief that a mother has raised very good son who will never plant a bomb at a public place like the woman in Boston bomb planting, people will not hesitate in going to great extremes to resist evidence and assert their beliefs.

A crucial difference between conspiracy theories and preconceived notion is that believers of conspiracy theories  tend to ignore every evidence against their believes, they don’t hesitate in adding names of more and more people as conspirators in order to legitimize their opinion and they also tend to reject everything which the majority of people are telling.


About Author

Ritu Insaan

A homemaker, social worker and a mother, Ritu Insaan holds an MBA degree in Public Health. She has worked in the rural areas of northern India for the upliftment of less privileged sections of society. Whenever she finds free time amidst her busy schedule, she does freelance writing for a number of websites.

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