Now that I caught your attention, let's talk about conspiracy theories and why people believe them. A conspiracy by definition is an explanatory or speculative hypothesis suggesting that two or more persons, or an organization, have conspired to cause or cover up, through secret planning and deliberate action, an event or situation typically regarded as illegal or harmful. These can range from "Obama is a secret Muslim" to "The Earth is Flat and is only 6,000 years old." Now sometimes these theories have some truth to them, yet the vast majority are pure bullshit.
In fact, a recent study shows that many conspiracy theorists are actually quite gullible. Scientists used over 1.2 Million subjects in this study. Results show that "77.92% of likes and 80.86% of comments are from users usually interacting with conspiracy stories." So what the scientists did was gather a bunch of troll posts and posted it on several alternative news sites. Their findings show that "polarized users of conspiracy pages are more active in liking and commenting on intentionally false claims."
But why do people believe in these often times ridiculous hogwash? Michael Sherman of Scientific American writes that conspiracy theorists "cut across gender, age, race, income, political affiliation, educational level, and occupational status." This largely due to a lack of education because education reduces conspiratorial thinking: "42 percent of those without a high school diploma are high in conspiratorial predispositions, compared with 23 percent with postgraduate degrees." And while this sort of thing is encouraging, it also shows that one out of five post grads believe in some sort of conspiracy. This makes me sad and I weep for the future of the world.
And now for an anecdotal: I was a conspiracy theorist for a large portion of my life. From early middle school to sophomore year of high school. I was confident that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax that was funded by Connecticut branch of the Freemasons and that vaccines cause autism. What happened to me? How did I become "a free thinking" conspiracy theorist to a rational skeptic? Simple. I fucking grew up and got an education! I read books and scientific journals! I learned that a drugged out madman gunned down those poor children and Sandy Hook and autism is purely genetic! And if any "free thinkers" are reading this article, my only advice is grow up and get an actual education. Google University does not count.