Free Daily Reads 2022: Article 203

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Article Title: What Makes People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?


Article Summary

The article at issue is an interview piece where an expert is quizzed on the nuances of conspiracy theory belief. He takes us through the probable causes and natures of belief in apocryphal claims like the earth being flat, and discusses some solutions to help people out of fanatical beliefs in unfounded theories. The author says that while certain psychological profiles and education levels predispose people to believe in these theories, the changing information sources of today also certainly play a role. The chief news medium of today is the Internet, where material tailored to ‘confirm’ our pre-existing psychological ‘bias’ exists in abundance, thereby pushing us further down in our quest to believe an unfounded theory. The author also notes that belief in one conspiracy theory gives one an inclination to believe in others, and that explains the phenomenon of such belief being way more widespread than we presume. Also, the author reinforces how the way to help someone out of erroneous belief is to be polite and logical with them, first targeting people who aren’t sunk into those beliefs altogether. There is a different type of person, whose very essence is tied up with belief in conspiracy theories – and irrespective of advances in psychological theory, the jury is still out on how to treat them.

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Words to learn from this article:

Cognitive: related to intelligence or perception.

Teleologic: involving the doctrine that the ends things serve are of greater consequence than their roots or causes of existence.

Closure: a complete or proper end to a sequence or activity.

Democratized: made into an egalitarian and public commodity.

Confirmation bias: the psychological phenomenon wherein we tend to seek out more things that confirm a theory or perspective we already support.

Dilettantes: dabblers, amateurs.


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