Category Archives: Biases & heuristics

Intention Seekers: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories About MS804

I wrote a post over at Psychology Today on the psychology behind conspiracy theories about airline disasters like the disappearance of MH370, and more recently, MS804. Part of the appeal, according to a handful of recent studies, may be how … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Intentionality bias, World events | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

On “crazy” conspiracy theories

I wrote an op ed, published today on LATimes.com, on the topic of dismissing conspiracy theories (and theorists) as “crazy.” Pithy insults like crazy, delusional, irrational, wacky have become a common refrain, at least among click-baiting headline-writers and over-zealous pundits. But, as I … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Pop culture, Proportionality bias, Suspicious Minds | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Vice Motherboard article on conspiracy psychology

A recent article by journalist Molly Osberg gives an excellent overview of the psychology of conspiracy theories, including a few quotes from me, among other researchers. “There’s not that much of a difference, really, between conspiracy theorists and the rest … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Suspicious Minds | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Why tidying your desk might make conspiracy theories seem less plausible

A recent study by psychologists at the University of Amsterdam looked at the consequences of feeling ambivalent, with interesting implications for belief in conspiracy theories. We experience ambivalence when we feel both good and bad about something at the same … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics | Tagged , , , | 144 Comments

The President is Dead: Why Conspiracy Theories About the Death of JFK Endure

November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Over the years, numerous investigations have amassed evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, and failed to find compelling proof that anyone else was involved. … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Proportionality bias, World events | Tagged , , , , | 72 Comments

Robert F Kennedy Jr and vaccines : How even the brightest can fall victim to conspiracy thinking

Robert F Kennedy Jr, famously one of  Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, Sr ‘s 11 children, has made press many times over the last ten years with his staunch anti-vaccination views. In 2005, he wrote an article for Salon.com proclaiming that a government conspiracy … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Confirmation bias, What's the harm | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When the levees break: Hurricane conspiracy theorising

Hurricane Katrina remains one of the worst natural disasters to occur on U.S. soil. It’s estimated that at least 1,833 people were killed in the hurricane and subsequent floods, and property damage was in the region of $81 billion. Conspiracy … Continue reading

Posted in Biases & heuristics, Proportionality bias | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to sell a conspiracy theory

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (A&E9/11 for short), more than any other conspiracist organisation I’ve come across, showcases the psychology of sales techniques, influence, and persuasion. I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who believe the claims made by … Continue reading

Posted in 9/11, Biases & heuristics, Social psychology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Psychology of A&E9/11Truth on SGU

This week’s Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe features a discussion (starting at 38:20) of the claims made by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. A&E9/11Truth is a conspiracist organisation whose main argument is that the collapse of the three World … Continue reading

Posted in 9/11, Biases & heuristics, Confirmation bias | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments