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 attitude or traits and assumes instead that others are doing so. They see their negative qualities in others, even when the negative characteristics are not present in the others being accused.
In the case of the flat-Earth concept, flat-Earthers would create various ad-hoc hypotheses to explain away the problems and save the flat-earth theory from being falsified; without even bothering to bring real evidence to the table. When a weakness is found in the new ad-hoc hypotheses, they will invent other ad-hoc hypotheses to explain it away. And so on, until these chains of ad-hoc hypotheses eventually reach conspiracy theories.
At the end of the day, to save the flat-earth theory from being falsified, at some point, they will have no choice but to accuse others of being part of a conspiracy.
Some of us are more easily 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 the 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?
- 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