Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

by Rob Brotherton


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Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories by Rob Brotherton

Decoding the psychology of believing in conspiracy theories. We're all conspiracy theorists--some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists aren't just a handful of people who wear tin-foil hats and have bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens. Conspiracy theories are as likely to appeal to women as to men, college students as to retired professors, middle-class bloggers as to blue-collar workers.

Psychological research sheds light on why some people are more drawn to conspiracy thinking, especially when they feel discontented, distrustful, and desire privileged knowledge. But ultimately we are all natural-born conspiracy theorists. Our brains are wired to see patterns and to weave unrelated data points into complex stories. We instinctively see events in the world in terms of human motives and intentions, leading us to discount the role of chance and unintended consequences, and we look for some hidden hand behind catastrophic events. These psychological quirks can lead us to suspect a conspiracy where none exists.

Conspiracy theories have existed throughout history, from ancient Athens and Rome to present day theories about 9/11 and who shot JFK. Suspicious Minds explores the phenomenon and reveals the important consequences conspiracy theories can have--from discouraging parents from vaccinating their children against deadly diseases to hampering political policies to combat climate change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472915610
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 11/17/2015
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Rob Brotherton, a former lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, is a leading expert on the psychology of conspiracy theory. He has written about conspiracy theories for periodicals such as New Scientist and the Skeptic magazine, and on his website, He currently lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Down the Rabbit Hole
Chapter 1. The Age of Conspiracy
Chapter 2. What's the Harm?
Chapter 3. What is a Conspiracy Theory?
Chapter 4. Conspiracy Minded
Chapter 5. The Paranoid Fringe
Chapter 6. I Want to Believe
Chapter 7. (Official) Stories
Chapter 8. Connect the Dots
Chapter 9. Intention Seekers
Chapter 10. Proportion Distortion
Chapter 11. I Knew It
Epilogue. Only Human

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