Some people are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. Here’s how to know if you’re one of them.

Some people are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. Here's how to know if you're one of them.

Welcome to the age of the conspiracy theory, a time when unfounded claims move with lightning speed across the internet, reaching even your sweet, well-educated grandmother who now believes that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax and there’s a man named Q leading an army of followers against a cabal of elite liberals who kidnap and traffic children. 

If you’re wondering how we arrived at this point, the explanation is complex but there’s one under-appreciated factor: A lot of people are vulnerable to believing conspiracy theories, even those who think they’re too smart for them. 

In other words, the caricature of the tinfoil hat-wearing, paranoid shut-in may have once been a common punchline, but it’s far from our current realityMillions of people have been drawn to QAnon, the far-right group that believes President Trump is fighting a clandestine child sex-trafficking ring. (Trump has welcomed the group’s support.) In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center this summer, nearly a quarter found some truth in the unfounded theory that the coronavirus pandemic was planned. A study published last month in the Journal of Personality found that the psychological traits associated with conspiracy beliefs might be far more normal than we think.  Read more…

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