Fake News?

Moyer (2019) wrote an interesting piece in the Scientific American called "Why we believe conspiracy theories."  She proposed some reasons why and some remedies. I thought her material was worth a blog entry. As she observed, conspiracy theories have always been around but are now more prominent. Researchers have determined that more than one quarter of Americans believe in conspiracies.

She set forth several  major reasons. One was that there is a belief that evidence is faked by people with vested interests. Moyer (2019) herself  said, "One obvious reason for the current revised profile of this kind of thinking is that the U.S. president is a vocal conspiracy theorist" (p. 61). She substantiated the assertion with the president's proposal that the Democrats funded the migrant caravan moving from Honduras to the U.S., in spite of the absence of  any supporting data. Another factor is that people are feeling insecure in our changing world and need conspirators as scapegoats to blame to make the world more predictable and understandable.

But unfortunately, some conspiracy theories may be true. Moyer (2019) offered some strategies advocated by psychologists for detecting plausible theories from implausible ones. Theories can be investigated for facts and evidence.. Analytical thinking can be applied. To focus such thinking, three key questions can be asked: 1) What is the hard evidence?, 2) What are the credible sources for the evidence?, and 3) What is the reasonable link between  the evidence and the theory?

Moyer (2019) concluded, "By looking out for suspicious signatures and asking thoughtful questions about the stories we encounter, it is still possible to separate truth from lies. It may not always be an easy task, but it is a crucial one for all of us" (p. 63).


Moyer, M. W.. (2019). Why we believe conspiracy theories. Scientific American, 320(3), 58-63.

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