I’m researching what drives conspiracy theorists for three reasons:
First, I’m a scientist. In fact, unlike Neil de Grass Tyson, I actually have degrees with “SCIENCE” in their name (he has a BA, an MA, and a PhD, whereas I have a BS, an MS, and an MBA).
Second, whenever I see yet another conspiracy theory pop up on the Internet, I groan and roll my eyeballs like any good scientist – skeptic until proven otherwise.
Third, I’m a conspiracy theorist myself. Like any good scientist, I don’t allow either popular opinion, claims of “it’s proven science,” or my own healthy skepticism to get in the way of the process of science, which involves the scientific method, actual research, and a full working knowledge of a variety of disciplines including math, statistics, biology, chemistry, engineering, aviation, political science, history, psychology, social science, IT, and some others.
You really do need to have mastered these disciplines in order to objectively examine various conspiracy theories and make any headway determining whether there’s any factual basis to them or not.
For example, if you can’t tell me the difference between a diode and a transistor, or between inductance and conductance, you’re almost certainly not qualified to intelligibly examine the conspiracy theories surrounding HAARP.
If you can’t calculate dispersion patterns of airborne particles or calculate ground-level toxicity based on release altitude, winds at ground and aloft, and turbulence, or calculate aircraft weight fractions as a function of fuel, you’re almost certainly not qualified to intelligibly examine the conspiracy theories surrounding chemtrails.
If you don’t understand the concept of design limits, factors of safety, and buckling, and can’t both find and follow a simple temperature-strength graph for modern structural steel, you’re almost certainly not qualified to intelligibly examine the conspiracy theories surrounding the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers in 2001.
And before you verbally slash me, consider this:
“Whatever critical thinking skills the conspiracy theorists lack, they make up for in numbers, passion, and the ability to stay in their own echo chambers. It’s to the point where conspiracy theorists even have a hard time (to be kind) spotting conspiracy theory parodies.” – Source
I, too, have fallen prey to conspiracy theory parodies. What separates mice from men, however, is being able to discern the difference. Some “conspiracies” really are valid. Others, however, a so full of holes that any rational thinker armed with a decent education should be able to spot it as hogwash.
And from this point, we shall proceed!
Here’s another fun article, this time, peer-reviewed.