Where do conspiracy theories come from?

Between the US government threatening to ban TikTok in the near future and whatever’s going on with Kate Middleton, misinformation and social media influence are trending topics again. After social scientist Dan Ariely found himself on the receiving end of weird conspiracy theories online, he took a long look at what causes people to become invested in totally irrational beliefs.

Bad Judgment Calls

Ariely says that constant worry consumes much of our mental bandwidth, making it more difficult to discern fact from fiction. That’s why outlandish theories and false narratives have gained so much traction in recent years. The pandemic exacerbated this trend, providing fertile ground for the spread of misbeliefs due to a combination of stress, isolation, and political polarization.

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