Bullying, power and control: why people believe in conspiracy theories and how to respond

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Nottingham/Paris, Jan 14 (The Conversation) From vaccine uptake to violent extremism, conspiracy beliefs are linked to distrust in major institutions or powerful figures.

Research developed in the last decade shows how conspiracy beliefs can be linked to people’s lack of control in their lives, feeling threatened or even workplace bullying.

Conspiracy theories are defined by psychologists as “explanations for important events that involve secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups” without any basis in fact. Followers point a finger at groups they think of as powerful, from scientists and doctors to minority groups such as Jewish people, and blame them for events or societal change.

Conspiracies, where powerful figures secretly plot to undermine something or someone, do exist. The Watergate scandal involved a break in at the US Democratic National Committee headquarters by burglars connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign.

The burglars were caught wiretapping phones. Nixon tried to cover up the crimes but journalists uncovered his role in the conspiracy. But the difference here is that there is evidence to back up what happened.

However, conspiracists insist their theories are true even when there is no evidence that holds up to scrutiny. Still, conspiracy theories can be persuasive. Millions of British people believe in at least one. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.

Content retrieved from: https://theprint.in/world/bullying-power-and-control-why-people-believe-in-conspiracy-theories-and-how-to-respond/1314592/.

1 comment

  1. Encouraging people to employ critical thinking in response to conspiracy theories and teaching critical thinking to schoolchildren to preempt such misinformation is the single most obvious solution. But as this article points out the people that embrace conspiracy theories are frequently frightened, anxious and feel overwhelmed by the world. So denial and cognitive dissonance is often the response to any factual analysis.

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