Conspiracy theories are impossible to miss; if you have access to any media platform, chances are you’ve come across a handful. There are tons of conspiracy theories out there ranging from the ridiculous notion of the British royal family coming from a species of alien lizards to the more probable theory that the JFK shooting wasn’t a one man job. But where do these conspiracies actually come from and why do these surface in the first place?
Looking at the big picture you can see a pattern in the conception of conspiracy theories: they often emerge when there are obvious holes or kinks in history and/or media that virtually no one can explain. Take the 9/11 bomb theory for example videotapes from news stations all have a malfunction and turn black right as the plane hits the World Trade Center. This made people doubt the credibility of those videos and their imaginations went wild. Theorists were convinced that the government was trying to cover up the fact that the plane didn’t cause the explosion, but the bombs that were already planted in the building.
Of course, we have to consume theories like these with a grain of salt. More often than not conspiracies are made by bored individuals and, in some extreme cases, they are made solely for slander or defamation of elite figures. Theories like Jay-Z being the leader of the Illuminati are obviously far-fetched, but some of the more popular and probable theories like the Moon landing being fake do need a bit of research and the benefit of the doubt. Theorists who make these conspiracies often have confirmation bias, looking only at the approaches and arguments that benefit their theory.
And that’s all fun and games, but could some of these theories actually be more reliable than we give them credit for?
According to Reader’s Digest there are actually a number of conspiracies that turned out to be more truth than fiction. Consider the theory of the American government poisoning alcohol prior to the Prohibition era. They actually did it.. The federal government urged manufacturers to use more potent poison and by the end of the Prohibition more than 10,000 Americans died.
So the next time you come across a conspiracy theory, try not to associate it with tinfoil hats and give it the benefit of the doubt. We won’t know how probable Ted Cruz being the Zodiac Killer is and, biologically, we have the need to make sense of things that are unknown to us, so maybe give yourself and conspiracy theorists a break.
By Chris Andres