The marginalized are much more susceptible to conspiracy

Those who feel socially excluded tend towards conspiracy fantasies. This was the result of two studies by Princeton University.

The milieu of conspiracy believers in the United States is called “Lunatic Fringe”: This crazy fringe believes that the moon landing never took place, the CIA would hide evidence of extraterrestrials in New Mexico, aircraft contrails would be chemtrails, or measles vaccinations would trigger autism.

Secret forces in the background
It is not typical of these conspiracy ideologists that they simply believe obvious nonsense. Rather, they are convinced that secret forces are behind various events and are realizing a big plan.

The “Protocols of the Zion Wise Men”
The idea that a small group of conspirators used dirty methods to guide world affairs found its most devastating expression in the “Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion”, an important work of modern anti-Semitism and thus a source of Auschwitz.

Jews, lizard people and Merkel
Jews were one of the most popular objects for conspiracy fantasies, but there were also reptiles who spotted their intrigues undetected or Nazis who would have survived the war under Antarctica. Right-wing conspiracy fans currently consider Angela Merkel responsible for every alleged evil.

Search for meaning
Damaris Gräupner and Alin Coman from Princeton University have now found out what drives conspiracy thinking - namely the search for meaning.

Excluded people find meaning in life
People who feel socially isolated are therefore increasingly looking for meaning in life. However, since they feel excluded, they are also looking for a reason to be excluded.

Magical thinking
Conspiracy fantasies are magical thinking insofar as they suggest unconditional causality between things that have no connection.

Prejudice is the father of thought
Above all, the conspiracy believers have prejudices against people to whom they attribute a high status in society: politicians or very rich people.

Random patterns become related
Then they would put random patterns in a context that doesn't exist. In the 1980s, for example, the conspiracy theory was widespread that Philipp Morris' support for the KuKluxKlan was shown by the fact that the red and white patterns on the Marlboro box formed three Ks.

The outsider study
The researchers first examined 119 people to see how excluded they felt. The subjects had to describe an unpleasant situation in which friends had been involved. The scientists asked how excluded they would have felt.

The question of meaning
The next question was how much they yearned for meaning, examining, for example, statements on the statement: "I am looking for a goal in life or purpose in life".

The question of conspiracies
In the third part, the scientists asked subtly about the willingness to accept conspiracy theories, for example whether and how the government tried to manipulate citizens through messages below the level of conscious awareness.

Excluded in the wake of the conspiracy fantasy
The more excluded the participants felt in the described situation, the more they searched for meaning in life and the more they were taken up by conspiracy theories.

A second study
Graepner and Coman checked the results in a second study. To do this, they asked 102 subjects in groups of three to come to the laboratory.

Initially, they had to describe themselves, the researchers claimed that the teams used these statements to decide who they wanted with them. In reality, the researchers determined the teams.

Result: Those who were not included in the team felt excluded and were increasingly looking for meaning.

Who believes in the conspiracy?
The researchers then presented three situations and asked the participants whether the protagonist's luck or misery came about through a secret conspiracy. And the result was that those who were not elected to the team believed much more in a conspiracy than the elected.

Integration decides
The scientists drew a conclusion for society: Those who feel marginalized can fall into conspiracy fantasies and thus marginalize themselves even further.

The marginalized meet the marginalized
If these people, who feel marginalized, but have reached the margins of society, they will meet people there who have the same problem.

Conspiracy theories are confirmed
They are now confirming each other in their superstition of the secret mastermind behind terrorist attacks or vaccination programs that people should program in the sense of a secret elite.

What helps?
According to Coman, conspiracy theories run in a vicious circle of feelings of exclusion. One possibility would be to specifically involve those affected in society again.

A new study would be important to investigate the consumers of pseudomedicine and not recognized placebos as to whether they are generally susceptible to conspiracy delusion. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

Video: StarTalk Podcast: Coronavirus u0026 Conspiracy Theories, with Michael Shermer u0026 Neil deGrasse Tyson (October 2021).