Why Don't People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?
Why Would a True Conspiracy Be Ignored?
A true conspiracy is ignored for several reasons. Sometimes there’s a lack of publicly available evidence. Other times, trust in the conspiring party makes it difficult to imagine they’re responsible for atrocities. In many cases, there’s a believable lie being told that also makes sense. In some cases, the truth is so strange it seems impossible. Certainly not least among these reasons is that sometimes the way the information is presented seems crazy.
Let’s look at UFOs (unidentified flying objects) for an easy example. Just to be clear, I’m only talking about the objects in the sky many of us are familiar with—whether you believe they’re aliens or not.
UFOs are spotted every day. From strange lights to fast-moving objects to strange shapes in the sky, odd sightings seem a constant thing across the world. Most sightings can be accounted for as something ordinary seen in an unusual way. Some can be classified as hoaxes. Once we rule out those two categories, the remaining UFOs left are exactly that: unidentified.
“How can you say that, Kwade?!” you ask?
Easy. They’re not identified. It’s “unidentified flying object.” That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re aliens.
Some random schmuck declaring lights that look odd are “clearly proof that aliens are abducting people” does more harm than good in seeking the truth. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and too many of us are quick to jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, there are enough ridiculous claims, it makes truly strange events easier to ignore.
Quick Thought Exercise
Pretend for just a moment the U.S. government is covering up the existence of extraterrestrial visits. The possibility that aliens are visiting our planet isn’t that far fetched on its own. The idea that some within the U.S. government would lie, isn’t a stretch at all. The problems with this idea come in when claims are made that a cover-up is in place to hide such visits. A conspiracy of alien visitation would require a monumental conspiracy including thousands of people to keep a secret. It would also mean what many rational intelligent people believe about our world would be a lie. The evidence would need to not only be powerful but also overcome the cognitive dissonance and confirmation biases of people.
Even if all of these claims are true they seem so far removed from the reality we live in it sounds crazy.
Imagine if there was an official announcement unanimously given by the president and leaders of various branches of the government in which you learned the government was run by a cheese monster named Grum who feeds off the brain-waves of politicians. You’d need some serious evidence to believe it. Even with evidence, and even coming from government officials, it would be difficult to accept such a crazy notion. It falls so far outside of what we believe to be true, most of us would think it was a hoax or a gag.
The more strange compared to what we believe, the harder it is to accept it and adjust to information.
Even completely true information doesn’t stand a chance when faced with lies we truly accept as reality.
Just as believing in a conspiracy theory that seems crazy can stem from intelligent thought and research; disbelieving theories often stems from intelligent thought and being rooted in reality. Even when the conspiracy theory turns out to be true, it isn’t just willful ignorance that keeps us from believing the truth. Often just the opposite, trust for someone who seems worthy and information that seems reliable can make it difficult to find the truth.
If you’re one of the “crazy conspiracy theorists,” try to remember your passion can come off as crazy and thoughtless. Share information with a focus on good solid evidence.
If you’re a “closed-minded skeptic,” try to remember the “crazy people” aren’t all crazy, and sometimes an odd source isn’t as important as verifying the information they give.
We need to keep open minds to find new truths.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
© 2019 kwade tweeling