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From: National Geographic

Why People Latch on to Conspiracy Theories, According to Science

Insurgents swarmed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to create chaos and defy legislators who had gathered to certify electoral votes. The presidential election, they say, was stolen—a belief encouraged by a powerful and trusted leader.

But the idea that the election was rigged is, by definition, a conspiracy theory—an explanation for events that relies on the assertion that powerful people are dishonestly manipulating society. In reality, dozens of lawsuits espousing accusations of voter fraud have been thrown out by state and federal courts.

Experts say that the majority of people do not easily fall for falsehoods. But when misinformation offers simple, casual explanations for otherwise random events, “it helps restore a sense of agency and control for many people,” says Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge.

The misinformation constantly swirling around us is now set against the backdrop of the pandemic, an unemployment crisis, mass demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice, and a deeply polarizing presidential election. During times of turmoil, the explanations provided by conspiracy theories and other falsehoods can be even more appealing—though not impossible to discourage or resist.

Read the whole story: National Geographic

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