Psychology is not fair game for guessing by the layman.
An interview with astrophysicists was ended with the question, “What is creativity?” Would you end an interview with a psychologist with a question about what happens in the centre of a black hole? Questions of psychology, politics, sociology, and economics are routinely asked of completely unqualified people on the assumption that basically, anyone’s guess is worthwhile. This is horrifyingly nihilistic regarding our ability to understand humans.
Are humans terrible? Is civilisation a bad idea? People don’t realise it but these ideas, along with fate, karma, and anarchy, appeal because people think that reality is a video game. But is life really a game?
In the past I have argued that humans have had a net negative influence on life and that Earth might be better off without them. I have also been tempted on occasion to say, “to hell with this silliness,” and leave the complexity of modern civilisation behind in favour of a simpler existence. But I have not been able to sustain either of these positions. They both crumble for the same reason.
Most people, especially in academic and scientific institutions, regard belief in conspiracy theories as unjustified (or to put it another way: crazy and paranoid). But they accept that conspiracies can occur, as evidenced by Watergate and other exposed scandals. But they regard most popular conspiracy theories as unlikely. Why is that? This can be called ‘default scepticism’, and it has several components.
Why do people believe conspiracy theories? The same reasons anyone subscribes to any ideologically-charged belief. If you were looking for differences in cognition, IQ, psychosis, paranoia, susceptibility to certain biases or persuasive methods, then you would be disappointed. One study included in its predictive profile of a conspiracy theorist the tendency to leap to conclusions from scant evidence. But this was just one component among many such as mistrust of others, dislike of authority and alienation from society. The tendency to leap to conclusions is neither sufficient nor necessary to predict if someone is a conspiracy theorist.