There are people who believe the earth is flat. There are people who believe the moon landing was staged. There are people who believe the Holocaust never happened.
One wonders what do people who buy into conspiracy theories have in common. Over the last few years there have been a number of scientific studies looking at this area.
One of them was published in the journal “Thinking and Reasoning.” The other was published in the journal “Applied Cognitive Psychology.”
The interesting thing was that they looked at the topic from two different angles. Despite that, they reached the same conclusion.
It appears that the main distinguishing characteristic had to do with critical thinking. Individuals who looked for simple solutions to things tended to believe conspiracy theories.
Individuals who tended to look at things as more complex tended to see things from different angles. The result was that they did not jump to conclusions the way those looking for simple solutions did.
The main difference between the two groups was that those who looked at things as more complex tended to have a college education.
The college education process does not simply teach facts. It teaches individuals how to think critically. It teaches individuals that most things are complex.
For those reasons, as individuals go through college they tend to look at things as having multiple factors related to them.
Conspiracy theories are relatively simple. The individual looks at an issue. The individual looks to find a simple solution. The simple solution may not have any factual basis. However, it is easy to grasp.
As you might expect, individuals who think this way grasp more than one conspiracy theory. It is a psychological defense mechanism for them. If they can simplify complex problems, they do not have to deal with them.
The implication is that colleges teach more than just facts, they teach critical thinking in various subjects. They teach individuals to look at things from multiple angles.
They do not have to teach that the earth is round, they do not have to teach that the moon landings actually occurred, and they do not have to teach that the Holocaust was real. The critical thinking skills that they teach make those things obvious.