Conspiracy Theories Multiplying?

These days I feel like I’m literally surrounded by weird improbable conspiracy theories. They seem to be multiplying exponentially on the Internet. Every few days I find out someone I had respected as a critical thinker believes in some of these theories or in portions of these theories. Thank whatever, no one I know seems to believe that aliens are secretly running the world and trying to bring about a one world government, but it’s still disheartening to hear they think our govt. (US) is capable of maintaining a long-term, diabolically oriented conspiracy of domination (or that maybe Obama is allowing or instigating school shootings to create an anti-gun platform).
Has anyone else noticed this increased belief in conspiracy theories among their families or non-skeptical friends? It really saddens me, because of course nothing you can say is likely to change their minds. The absence of evidence is always taken as evidence OF a conspiracy. Anyone have any theories on why we might be seeing this increase right now? Ubiquity of the Internet and social media as a platform for spreading such drivel? Widespread fear caused by the poor economy? What? Is this increasing unwarranted paranoia also occurring in other countries? I’d love to know.

Your suggestions of the Internet increasing the efficiency and speed of spread, and the economy are probably quite correct. It did occur to me that the mechanism for the formation of conspiracy theories is about the same as what caused people to come up with the idea of a god. Most people seem to have a hard time living with an unanswered question. They have to have a reason so if there’s not sufficient evidence, they make up one. Of course, that doesn’t explain those who insist on coming up with a weird answer for something that’s already well documented. :slight_smile:

Humanity’s need to for understanding is easy to see and grasp. What’s puzzling is, like you said, people’s willingness to go for a convoluted and unsupported explanation over a logical and straightforward one. That just leaves me shaking my head.

There’s already an identical thread or two like this one.
I agree that the internet is massively responsible for increasing dissemination and creation of CTs.
One reason: Simple. Before the internet there were only books and magazines and film.
These mediums can’t be bandied about frivolously. It takes publishing, editing, much more money, an office, a chain of command, a responsibility
to basic journalistic and creative values.
The internet on the other hand enables anyone to instantly “print” and disseminate any old garbage without peer review, without money,
without any standards etc etc. There’s no gamble. There’s no risk with the internet. You can just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.
You can’t do that with a book or television for example. There’s interests at stake. There’s people staking their money and time on traditional media outlets.
There’s reputations and credibility that must be maintained somewhat. And that in conjunction with a relatively self-correcting market share of said media.

It also depends on what type of CT you’re talking about. With the rise of the astroturf Tea Party in the US, there’s a veritable industry of right wing think tanks, news outlets, and radio shows dedicated to keeping right leaning folks in fear. And it’s big money to boot. As for other types of not-politically motivated CT, there have been many shows on TV and cable spitting out all kinds of doomsday, alternate history, and so on. Some of them are actually good, like America Fact or Fiction. And some, like the popular Ancient Aliens one, is pretty lame. In this I think stations are playing off the sense of “fear and doom are exciting” that really came to the fore after 911.

Sad to think conspiracy theories are big money. Though it really shouldn’t surprise me when there are people out there making VERY comfortable livings by selling their brand of New Ageism.
Sorry for starting this topic thread when it already exists. I’m brand new here and haven’t finished making my way through the forums yet. Be patient please.
Stacy ?

Don’t worry about it, Stacy. Many of the threads could be traced back to similar or even the some ones that were put up some time in the past. In a way, there’s an advantage to starting a new one rather than adding to a long old one. That way, we don’t have to go back and read the old stuff we did long ago. :slight_smile: