Why Do People Fall for Conspiracy Theories?
Reader's Digest India|July 2021
We quiz Ghayda Hassan, psychology professor
Courtney Shea

Not that long ago, conspiracies were for wing nuts in tinfoil hats. Now they’re everywhere. What happened?

We’ve definitely seen them gain a lot of momentum in the last few years—the last year, in particular, with COVID-19 and the divisive political climate. Conspiratorial thinking becomes more popular during times of strife and instability. People are scared and they’re looking for explanations.

What’s the distinction between a conspiracy theory and healthy skepticism?

Broadly speaking, a conspiracy theory is a belief that explains an event or a set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by a powerful organization. In the case of QAnon, it’s the belief that there’s a secret cabal of Satanist pedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against Donald Trump.

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