The Scientific Reason Conspiracy Theories are Subscribed to

social-media-appsConspiracy theories are adopted because those who believe them, produce an alternate frame of reality which tends to make sense out of a scenario in a manner which coincides with the world view of the person believing the propaganda. Within the discipline of cognitive psychology, a phenomenon referred to as the “Illusory Truth Effect” exists in which hearing a statement repeatedly, makes the statement appear more plausible. Scientists have examined this principle by having subjects read news stories, then distracting the subjects with unrelated material (e.g random surveys), then once again exposing the subjects to more news stories. Scientists found that when subjects are asked to rate the accuracy of news stories read during the second round, they are much more likely to rate information as credible if having seen it once before. For a news article or headline which has not been observed before, these snippets of information are only rated as true 18% of the time but for a news article or headline which has been observed before (e.g. prior to the intermission random poll), subjects are more likely to identify this information as factual 24% of the time. Social media is a great example of this principal being exploited. It’s not that logic and reason are being hijacked when people utilize social media to obtain news, it’s that participants within the social media ecosystem are not bothering to apply logic and reason in the first place, applying intuitive gut responses to news consumed. Surprisingly, scientists have found that when subjects stop judging intuitively, and begin using logic and reason, with evidence based argument and rationales, they become substantially better at determining truth from misinformation

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