A look at Conspiracy theories and why people believe in them

Conspiracy theories abound. There are probably more conspiracy theories than there are people. This article will look at some of the more common conspiracy theories and seek to present a psychologists explaination of why those conspiracy theories are believed in.

Joseph Ascinskis said “everyone believes in one conspiracy theory or another, and most people belive in several. 

Here are some statistics about those theories. About one-third of the country believes in “Truther” theories about the president as well as believing there was a conspiracy behind the 9/11 attacks. n equal proportion believe the accounts of President Obama’s place of birth, his religion, and that he has a social security number that doesn’t reflect his birth in Hawaii. These two groups somewhat overlap. 

On top of that, between sixty and eighty percent of Americans believe in some theory or other that Lee Harvy Oswald was not a lone shooter of President Kennedy, that various groups were behind that assassination.

The very number and variety of conspiracy theories suggest that people do not subscribe to these theories to understand big events or gathering evidence to have an explaination of those events. Ascinskis suggests that these theories find a home with people who have a conspiracy mentality. This means that some people are predisposed toward seeing a conspiracy and will often believe in several conspiracy theoriesat once. For some individuals two or more of their theories contradict each other and they fail to see that dicotomy, and will not require much, if any, evidence to believe in their ideas.

Since Sigmund Freud put forth his theories that our beliefs and actions are driven by unconscious forces and desires. Thus every one has their own set of ideologies and world view through which they see the world. These ideologies and world view operate in the background without the person even knowing it, and determine what they will and will not believe. These theories then offer an explaination of how he world works and offer a tantalizing account that all of us fall victim between at one time or another. The only difference between all of us is to which theory, when, and based on what evidence that attract us.

Dismissing these theories as absurd does not change the fact that they consume a fair amount of that most valuable political commodity of time. We often see the people wo believe in these theories as a small, eccentric slice of the population that is middle aged, living in their mothers basement, white, male and are internet enthusiasts (Joseph Ascinski and Joseph Parent in American Conspiracy theories. Oxford University Press; 2014, p. 5). Social psychologists have conducted many experiments in which they try to get people to change their conspiratorial views when presented with authorative data and information. They found that attempts to change their minds was a wate of time. These peoples beliefs were rigidly entrenched.

Lance de Haven Smith (Conspiracy Teory in America. University of Tennessee Press, 2013) tells of the work of Richard Hofstadter who in a 1964 essay  in Harpers Magazinw said popular conspiracy theories stem from the paranoid style in American politics. However, given the vast numbers of individuals holding one or more conspiracy theories that does not adequately describe those people.

So, let us look at some of the popular theories and see what function they might serve for both the individual and society.


In the early morning of September eleventh two thousand one, four jet liners were highjacked by radical Islamic terrorists. Two of the jets crasjed into each of the Word Trade Towers, one into the side of the Pentegon, and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennselvania, the passengers having taken action against the terrorists. The impact on the Trade Towers weakened the structure where they hit and their inertia carried them deep into the square acre buildings, dragging dry wall, and office furniture with them. The jet fule caught fire and due to the insullating effect of the drywall along with the wind created a blast furnace effect hot enough to melt the aluminum of the jets and as the heat rose, the steel was annealed (softened) and the water in the sprinkler system beccame superheated steam and began to collapse. The shere weight of the floors above the impact site dropped. As floor after floor collapsed on to the ones below, a “pile driver effect” was created, causing the towers to collapse as if they had been imploded by a demolition company. This then is the official explaination of the collapse.

Conspiracy theories, led by  a group knows as Arcitects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth sprang up almost immediately. The Architects and Engineers claimed that the jets of smoke and debris expelled at times resembled a professional demolition of the buildings by explosives placed in stategic locations through out the towers. Additionally they claimed that the fires were not hot enough to create the molten steel found in the basement of the building remains, nor to creat the molten aluminum flowing down the sides of the building. They suggest that the only cause could be thermite, which is a compination of rust, aluminum and orgnic materials. They claimed that there were gray pieces that could only have come from thermite.

This even was so horrific and of a proportion that the world had never before seen. Everyone was crying for an explination of how it could have happened. As in most scientific inquiries of irreproducable effects, many competing explainations arose. 

People begin to add to these opposing reports just as happens in the old telephone game where a phrase is whispered to the first person and by the time it gets to the last person it is an entirely different phrase. So it is with the 9/11 event. In addition, the Architechts version does not speculate at first who might have been responsible for the thermite explosions. As a result, we have people speculating that it was in some way a government plot. That then became a ploy by Bush’s people to have a reason to start a war in the middle east, some how terrorists managed to plant the bombs.

It is human nature to abhor a vacuum, so there is one existing in the 9/11 information. A lot is left unanswered.

Big Foot

Across the ages of mankind there have been stories and myths about giants. Even the Bible speaks of giants.  Native Americans have legands of large hairy animals/humans. 

One Native American story about the creation of man suggests the animals got togeather to make men. When the man saw “big foot” he became frightened. “Big foot” ran and hid and remained hidden from man because he does’t want to scare man.

The Bible suggests that the fallen angels mated with the beautiful women they saw and the result were giants. Additionally, there is the story of David and the giant Goliath.

History is dotted with accounts of seeing large hairy beasts. Footprints have been cast of huge feet, but many of them have been proven fakes because a beast of the size reported would have left much deeper footprints than many of the casts. In addition, there is a variance in the kind of footprints that have been cast. Some are ape like, some are human like. Some have arches apparent in the casts, others have no arch and the foot is flat. We have not found the remains of any animal or man of similar size. Prehistoric pictographs have been found depicting huge human like characters in pictograph sites world wide. 

Humans have a brain that fills in details when the visual data is incomplete or foreign. Scientists who disbelieve the accounts explain them away in that way. Others say the reported sightings are a misinterpretation of such things as bears, large apes, or other animals.

As long as these “sightings” and footprints continue there will be those who believe the stories and those who do not.

The Freemasons are really Illuminati and out to establish  a one World Government.

This conspiracy theory has its origin in the Age of Enlightenment. The Freemasons found great popularity in Europe. Adam Weisenkaupt was a member of the Freemasons in Barvaria. He urged the Masons to adopt his ideas of what Masonry should be. However he found Masonry not open to his ideas, so he left his lodge and formed the Iluminati on May 1, 1776. His societies goals were to oppose superstition, obstructionism, religious influence over the public lifeand abuses of power by the State.

Masonry was outlawed by Charles Theodore, the ruler of Barvaria at that time, with the urging of the Catholic church because it was allegedly worshiping the Devil.  Masonry continued underground in Barvaria, while it was still fashionable in the rest of Europe.

The foundation of Masonry is equality and a belief in God. Because Freemasons did not have to profess to be Christian, and was open to any individual of upright standing, and its rituals were secret, the Freemasons taking an oath never to reveal the secrets of Freemasonry “on the penalty of death”, the Pope believed that Freemasons were a threat to the Catholic Church because he believed that they were devil worshipers and the overthrow of the Church. Nothing could be further from the truth in regards to Freemasonry. 

I will state up front that I am a Master Mason, a 32 degree Mason in the Scottish Rite, and a Shriner. I declare that we support Democracy, equality of all, and we believe in God. In fact, it is widly written that much of our symbolism comes from the Old Testament. We are not a part of the Illuminati.

The Illuminati are thought to have conspire to control world affairs by manipulating events and planting agents in government and corporations. They too were a secret society. They were thought to have been responsible for the French Revoluton, and sought to gain political influence to establish a New World Order with their tennants as the basis.

The Illuminati did not continue into the 1800’s. 

Because of our secret rituals, Freemasons are also accused of seeking to establish a New World Order. To do that, however would be in opposition to our beliefs in Democracy.

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