- Nov 2005
Study: Conspiracy theory believers tend to endorse other unsubstantiated beliefs as wellPeople who believe in conspiracy theories are also more likely to believe in pseudoscience and paranormal phenomena, according to new research published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. The findings indicate that some people appear to have a general susceptibility to believing unsubstantiated claims.
The researchers surveyed 286 psychology undergraduate students regarding their paranormal beliefs, endorsement of conspiracies, factual knowledge about psychology, and acceptance of pseudoscience.
The participants were asked to indicate how much they agreed with general conspiracist ideas, such as “Technology with mind control capacities is used on people without their knowledge,” and how much they believed in 30 specific conspiracies, such as “Alien ships crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and the U.S. government has covered it up.”
The latter category included popular but debunked conspiracy theories, conspiracies that were made-up by researchers, and conspiracies that have been verified as true.
Bensley and his colleagues found that participants who endorsed general conspiracist ideas also tended to believe the debunked and fabricated conspiracy theories.
In addition, participants who believed the debunked and fabricated conspiracy theories also tended to believe in other non-conspiratorial unsubstantiated claims, including pseudoscience, poorly-supported psychological practices, and paranormal phenomena.
“People show an individual difference in the tendency to endorse unsubstantiated beliefs. It has been known for some time that people who tend to accept one false conspiracy theory, such as the claim that the 911 attack was an inside job, are also more likely to accept others, as well,” Bensley told PsyPost.
“Our research goes beyond this to show that people who tend to accept conspiracy theories also tend to endorse psychological misconceptions, pseudoscientific claims, and paranormal and superstitious claims.”
But there is some nuance to the generality of belief in unsubstantiated claims. The conspiracy-related measures appeared to be more tightly clustered together than the other measures of unsubstantiated beliefs.
“Although all of these measures of unfounded beliefs are correlated with each other (inter-correlated), conspiracy theories of different types (false, true, and fictitious) are more strongly related to each other than are the other measures of paranormal belief, psychological misconceptions, and pseudoscience,” Bensley explained.
“These other measures cluster together better and form a different factor than the conspiracy theory measures. In other words, they are more related to each other than they are to the conspiracy theory measures.”
Trump taps into this. It amazes me how Trump can toss out a claim he provides no substantiation to, but he is in a position to provide such evidence if it actually existed.