Why do so many otherwise seemingly reasonably intelligent people prefer to believe tightly woven conspiracy theories rather than simple answers?
I believe it is because today, perhaps more than ever, people work so hard and get so little satisfaction they would rather believe in vast secret organizations that control everything than the simple reality that life and the world holds no promises and guarantees nothing. As alarmed as people say they are at the concept of a vast conspiracy I believe that at some level they do take comfort in thinking at least someone somewhere is in control. Maybe not controlling things for the better (as the mass of people view it) but still in control.
The alternative is purely random and unrelated events. Or that bad things happen to good people and not everyone is a nice person underneath. People can't handle the "it just is" aspect of life.
This is really no different than hundreds or thousands of years ago. When there was a flood or plague or a famine people searched for answers. They found it in religion believing these bad events were the result of an angry deity who saw all their deep dark sins and was now punishing them for it. They didn't see these things as natural events that were bound to happen sooner or later. This is no different than today when people lament why someone kills themselves and takes 100 or more people with them. The conspiracy side says it's the result of anger and frustration at the victims, and that government knew it would happen and did nothing about it. In fact, perhaps even encouraged it to advance their own agenda. This as oppose to recognizing that there are evil people in the world who just want to kill.
As Michael Caine's character of Alfred in "Dark Knight" said of the Joker, quote "Some men can't be reasoned with, can't be bought. They just want to watch the world burn."
Another example: The once-in-100-years storm come and devastates an area. Rather than say "We knew this would happen someday and simply chose to live here anyway" or "We knew this always a possibility but decided not to spend the money to protect against this rare event" it's easier to blame a secret government plot to purposely inflict casualties on a certain class of people.
In some ways too this is a vote of confidence in the system. That people actually believe that government, organizations, businesses etc. are that well controlled and disciplined to be able to exert such total control without anyone being aware. Again, I think this goes back to a human need to believe there is a structured reason for events and not just the out come of hundreds of random events.
"Vast conspiracies" require the suspension of logical belief to be effective. Remember Occam's Razor: The simplest answer is usually the correct one. Is it simpler to say that bad events happen sometimes in life? Is it easier to admit there are evil people in the world who just like to hurt others? Or is it easier to believe in vast networks of shadowy organizations that control everything and no one ever spills the beans about it.
Then again, perhaps the conspiracy is just that: making people think there are vast conspiracies out there! When people will suspend their logical thought and believe in anything that's when they are truly easily controlled.
Think about it.
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