Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Conspiracy Theories and Ignorance are Connected

It is easier to "connect the dots" if you don't have many dots.


Peter Hoh said...

When I was a kid, I was drawn to stories of unexplained phenomena and, to a lesser extent, conspiracy theories. Who really shot JFK?

I suspect that phase did something to inoculate me against conspiracy theories.

Anonymous said...


Prager said...

Problem is many intelligent people believe in conspiracies. For instance the Truthers and the Birthers. The left and the right are rife with non ignorant people who believe in conspiracies.

"All of life is partisan.There is no dispassionate objectivity." Saul D. Alinsky

Gruntled said...

Intelligent does not rule out ignorant, as Peter Hoh's comment makes clear.

I am surprised that you cite the Birthers as a good example. As I have noted before, a quarter of the Birthers know that President Obama was born in Hawaii, but think Hawaii is not part of the United States.

dennistheeremite said...

I think there is a faculty for connecting dots that are not meant to be connected. One can see faces or scenerey on knotty pine paneling or linoleum floors through a creative immagination; as with the ability of a child to look at some random boulders in the woods and seeing a fort or a house.

Anonymous said...

Just because something could have happened doesn't means it did happen. Advice for conspiracy theorist.

Peter Hoh said...

Anon @ 8:44, if your "???" is directed at me, I'll do my best to explain.

I think that conspiracy theories have an appeal to a certain kind of bookish kid, but rather than generalize from my experience, I'll try to describe it.

As a kid, I read a lot. I knew a lot of facts. But my understanding of the world was limited. It still is, of course, but my understanding of the world is more mature than it was when I was 10 or 13.

Conspiracy theories have an air of intrigue, and they confer a certain "insider status" on those who follow them. Knowing what everybody else didn't know -- that really appealed to me when I was young.

As I read on and learned more, I came to realize that conspiracy theories don't hold water.

As an adult, I approach conspiracy theories with a great deal of skepticism. I suspect that some of that has to do with flirting with them in my childhood.