• Peter Blake

    Peter Blake is a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of psychological and brain sciences; he can be reached at pblake@bu.edu. Profile

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There are 5 comments on POV: Why Fake Conspiracies Persist, Regardless of the Evidence against Them

  1. Thank you for this article, Dr Blake. It’s tempting to scratch one’s head & wonder how hundreds of thousands of people can think something I perceive as irrational. Interesting to read here that it’s amazingly easy! But now I’m thinking of all the health & beauty ads I subscribed to because I wanted to believe them, they were nicely packaged & came with real people endorsements!
    And your second point re how a group can reinterpret information was also helpful. It helps explain how thoughtful people can consistently vote against their own interests (Strangers in Their Own Land), especially when reinforced by large numbers.
    And I appreciate & agree with your conclusion. While some believers of misinformation may fall away, we do indeed need to do the hard work of listening to one individual at a time!

  2. Yes, thank you to Dr. Blake. As he stresses, and you agree, we do indeed need to do the hard work of listening to one individual at a time. Dr Judy Wood is one of those individuals to listen to. Her book, “Where Did The Towers Go?”, clearly presents scientific evidence that explains what happened September 11th. Read it and come to your own conclusion, that is, if the hard work of listening is truly a statement one believes and stands by. What a shame if we choose to not listen to each other. This world will be a better place if we choose kindness and respect.

  3. Thank you for this article! I love how you compare social media to the oxygen fueling the fires of misinformation and conspiracy theories– the advent of social media creates the wildfire effect and spreads misinformation across perspectives and communities they usually would not. When you described how susceptible we are to subtle misinformation, to which we then mesh into our preconceived notions of truth, it really struck me. How many “urban myths” or popular “hacks” do we regurgitate to our friends and family without knowing whether these are wholly truthful? It seems that it’s much easier to spread misinformation than we all think.

    I very much appreciate your ending commentary. Instead of attacking each other, listening to the opposing side and attempting to find common ground is both healthy and a fantastic way to tear down the falsities of misinformation and conspiracy theories. We need to listen to others nowadays more than ever, especially when it comes to our support systems, like our friends and family.

  4. The article reminds me of a student’s attempt to fit a time-series model who in the first step substruct seasonal variation w/o realizing he/she create pattern witch latter she/he can’t solve.
    Acquisition in the conspiracy has become a popular tool to discredit an opponent.

  5. Dr. Blake, thank you so much for writing this article and examining the psychology behind these seemingly ridiculous theories! Despite the influx of information from modern media, these conspiracy theories only seem to be gaining more ground, and you do an excellent job of highlighting the polar opposite of that school of thought: anyone can start a rumor that gains traction. In fact, there was a recent analysis done by the Soufan Center that found that one-fifth of 166,000 accounts linked to QAnon activity actually originated in China or Russia. This type of foreign interference is lighter fluid on the bonfire that is modern conspiracy theories in America, and as you say, changing the hivemind is impossible, so we must find alternative ways to combat this misinformation.

    My mother is an anti-vaxxer, and my struggle is exactly as you highlight towards the end of your article. After reading Grant’s article, I’m ready to give his methodology a try: to engage not in debate, but an open conversation. As with many people who buy into conspiracy theories, they stop listening to “logic and evidence”. Thanks to your article, I might be able to combat my mother’s own increase in susceptibility to anti-vax news due to deteriorating trust in institutions.

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