Curiousity, Imagination & Deception: An Essay on Conspiracy Theories
Humans are curious, imaginative creatures by nature and can be strung along with the right bait. Conspiracy theories are one type of bait that humans continue to feed into. Why is this the situation? Are we humans that self-centered to think that inconvenient events are caused by some conspiracy to control us? Or do we need to support conspiracy theories to keep our true psychological and spiritual tendencies in balance?
In the essay, "Conspiracy Theory", written by Professor Michael Barkun of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, he gives multiple reasons why conspiracy theories are developed. The first arguement he makes has to do with the nature of unexpected events. He notes that the remaining evidence may be fragmented and somewhat inconsistent since each witness may have a different account of the occasion. In that event, it becomes easy for one to formulate a conspiracy theory that can glue together the fragments of the situation. In his article, "The Truth Is Out There...Way Out There", written for Skeptic magazine, George Case states that conspiracy theories "simplify things". (42) This situation actually makes sense because it would allow the believers to stop speculating over the details and go back to their everyday lives.
Barkun also gave another reason for the widespread belief of conspiracy theories. He reports, "they provide a reassuring sense that important things happen for important reasons". People like to think that they are very important and that their interests are very important. So for a catastophe to occur which would greatly affect them, it must be linked to something of signficance. Dr. Patrick Leman from the University of London says that people tend to connect major events with causes on the same scale. He also notes that there is a latent mechanism in the human thought process that believes, "the bigger the event is the bigger the cause must have...
Cited: Barkun, Michael. "Conspiracy Theory" American Heritage Oct. 2005: 64. MasterFile Premier. EBSCOhost. Santa Monica Coll. Lib. 1 July 2007 http://libdb.smc.edu/login url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=18504594&site=ehost-live
Case, George. "The Truth is Out There." Skeptic 4 Nov. 2005:42-43. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Santa Monica Coll. Lib. 1 July 2007. http://libdb.smc.edu/login?
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