Why are some people so quick to believe in conspiracy theories? In part, many conspiracy theorists don't consider themselves conspiracy theorists. They don't see themselves as the caricatured, tinfoil hat-wearing loons. Instead, they see themselves as patriots and independent thinkers who are smart enough to see through the lies put out by the government and its news media stooges.
Often those who promote conspiracy theories frame them as simply asking legitimate questions — and who can deny that everyone has the right to ask questions of their government and news media? The problem is that the questions they ask are often non-questions that can be (and have been) easily answered. Conspiracy theorists prefer complex mysteries over simple truths, and so they find mystery where none exists. [my emphasis] ...
People who embrace and promote conspiracy theories do so for a reason — typically because it bolsters their (often anti-government) social or political agendas. Conspiracy theories don't emerge in a vacuum; instead, there are people who are simply waiting for each new tragedy to occur so that they can frame it in a way that suits their purposes. For example, many people seized upon the Sandy Hook massacre as a faked event staged to rally public support for stricter gun control laws.
They seek out what appear to be contradictions or holes in "the official story." Conspiracy theorist websites offer "suspicious" examples and evidence, ranging from real or perceived contradictions in eyewitness accounts to conflicting news reports. But what the conspiratorial mind sees as misinformation and lies, others see as merely perfectly ordinary incomplete and inaccurate information following a chaotic tragedy. Eyewitnesses can be confused and mistaken, police officers and reporters can make errors, or repeat information that is corrected after further investigation.
Part of the reason that conspiracy theories linger is that any contradictory evidence — no matter how conclusive or compelling — can just be dismissed by claiming that it's part of the cover-up.
I regularly seem to encounter conspiracy fans, and this describes them exactly. No matter how crazy - and I mean crazy - their beliefs, they think of themselves as being rational skeptics, as opposed to the 'sheeple' who've bought the government's lies.
It might be the Moon Landing, it might be 9/11, it might be Barack Obama's birth certificate, but whatever it is, they're absolutely convinced that they're the sane ones. And really, there seems to be nothing too crazy for conspiracy fans. (They don't all choose the same conspiracy to believe, of course. That usually depends on their political leanings.)
The other thing I've noticed is that they all seem to be thrilled with being one of the few smart enough to see the 'Truth' and brave enough to fight the powers behind their chosen conspiracy. It's apparently lots of fun to be a conspiracy theorist. You might be an insignificant little person in real-life, but in your imagination, you're a brave freedom-fighter facing long odds against the powers who really control this planet.
I'm sure that's why it's so appealing. It's just human nature. And that means we'll probably never see the end of these things, don't you think?