The Taylor Swift Conspiracy to Get Biden Reelected

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This just in: Taylor Swift is part of a secret plot to help President Biden win the 2024 Presidential election.

Or at least that’s what almost a fifth of all respondents and a third of all Republican respondents believe based on a Monmouth University poll from February 14, 2024.1

Given Swift’s enormous celebrity as a worldwide icon (only 5% of respondents said they’d never heard of her), it seems almost inevitable that she’d eventually become part of a conspiracy theory. But how can we explain this particular one?

A decade of research has revealed a number of psychological quirks associated with conspiracy theory belief, including needs for certainty, closure, control, and uniqueness; cognitive biases that attribute random events to higher causes; a preference for intuitive over analytical thinking; paranoia; and even something called bullshit receptivity. To be clear, these findings represent quantitative differences rather than qualitative differences between those who are more or less likely to believe in conspiracy theories. In other words, we all have needs for closure, utilize intuitive thinking, and even worry about paranoid concerns at times (e.g. whether our friends are trash-talking us behind our backs)—it’s just that on average, such traits are more likely to be heightened among those who believe conspiracy theories.

That said, there’s no obvious connection between any of those psychological traits and believing that Taylor Swift is part of a conspiracy to re-elect Biden. This particular conspiracy theory doesn’t really offer an explanation for random events, offer closure about a particular event, or have anything to do with pseudo-profound bullshit. So, what else might help us understand it?

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