Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? According to research, one reason is the so-called ‘psychological projection’.
‘Psychological projection’ is a phenomenon where someone denies their own attitude or traits and assumes instead that others are doing so. They see their own negative traits in others, even when the negative traits are not present in the others being accused.
In the case of the flat-Earth ideology, they would create ad-hoc hypotheses in order to ‘plug the hole’ and save the flat-earth theory, without even bothering to bring real proofs to the table. When there’s found a weakness in the new ad-hoc hypotheses, they would invent another ad-hoc hypotheses to plug the new hole. And so on, until these chains of ad-hoc hypotheses eventually reach conspiracy theories.
In order to save the flat-earth theory from being falsified, at some point, they have no choice but to accuse others of being part of a conspiracy.
Unfortunately, some of us are deeply affected by these conspiracy theories invented by unscrupulous flat-Earthers. But, this might be only a result of the ‘psychological projection’. Maybe —just maybe— we accuse those scientists working for NASA being involved in a big conspiracy only because we would have done the same conspiracy if we were in their shoes?
Unconsciously, this is probably the reason we accuse them of being part of a conspiracy: our moral standards are too low.
- Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire – Karen M. Douglas, ￼Robbie M. Sutton
- Psychological Projection – Wikipedia
- Machiavellianism – Wikipedia