Conspiracy theories are really popular now more than ever. There are a lot of people who believe that the Earth is flat, that we are controlled by aliens or that every disease and virus on earth was invented by someone to reduce the global population.
For some people, not finding something useful for changing moto tires might look like there is a higher force that does not want to allow them to ride their motorcycle. All this seems a little bit unlogical, but studies show that this problem might have nothing to do with our intelligence and we are going to explain it all in this article.
Patterns patterns patterns
What makes us different from animals is the fact that we have a larger prefrontal cortex that allows us to make connections and anticipate the future. This is why the brain has evolved to see patterns everywhere. This also activates regions in our brains like the occipital lobe and the temporal lobe that have a lot to do with image processing.
Our ancestors who lived in caves had to pay attention to a lot of things to survive. Before a storm, clouds used to cover the sky, so cavemen started to see this pattern that whenever the sky would be filled with clouds, the rain was going to come. This is how we got used to observing patterns.
Observing patterns is a great way to stay safe and this is why our brains do it a lot. However, this becomes a problem when we see unexisting patterns. If someone believes that a virus was created in the lab and hasn’t evolved in natural ways, it is possible that they will think that every existing virus was created this way and that someone is out there to get us.
Studies have shown that people who believe in conspiracy theories have a higher illusory pattern perception, which means that they are more prone to seeing connections where there really are none.
Fear of the unknown
In the brain, there is a region that controls fear levels, called the limbic system, which can be overactive in people who believe in conspiracy theories. This usually happens because people who believe in conspiracy theories have the feeling that they are not in control over their lives and they are more fearful.
During childhood, most people see their parents in control of their lives and they can have a sense of security because of that. When we grow older, we see that this was not the case so it gets easier to understand why some people like to think that there is someone or something that is in control of the situation and things do not happen by chance.
Feeling that you are not in control of your life, or of some aspects of your life, can leave you feeling powerless. Believing that things do not happen because of chance, which can generate chaos, and that they happen because of someone or something, can make you feel less powerless.
Even though you can not convince someone who believes in conspiracy theories that they are wrong, you can help them by encouraging them to gain more control over their lives. This is how they will stop trying to control the chaos outside of them.
But why do people believe in things that are completely irrational?
Some studies have shown that people who believe in conspiracy theories have higher levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for cognition, emotion, reward, and decision-making. Scientists have administered dopamine to non-believers and have concluded that it made them more inclined to believe in conspiracies.
Another factor responsible for this is confirmation bias. This means that every time we come across information that agrees with our beliefs, they will be reinforced even if they are totally illogical. Also, we are more prone to notice this type of information.
The high amount of misinformation present on the internet, however, has contributed to the rise of the number of people who believe in conspiracy theories, that is why so many people now believe that the earth is flat. Fortunately, that can be changed and it is important to help the ones around us become more in control of their lives so that they can stop believing.