Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories

The following is from a class discussion post.

I wish to building on what ******** wrote regarding the need to both apply critical theory and to be careful that we do not apply it without limitation. Theories often validate our own world views but may ignore outliers. I had, prior to this class, been in several discussions on Facebook and face-to-face in which my views were met with outright hostility. That is until I read Why Rational People Buy into Conspiracy Theories (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/why-rational-people-buy-into-conspiracy-theories.html?_r=1) by Maggie Koerth-Baker in preparation for teaching Composition II this semester. Baker writes about how normally rational people may ignore evidence against their viewpoints because it goes against their world view and any evidence brought to the discussion may only bolster their views that there is a conspiracy to cover up the evidence. It made me stop trying so hard to change people's minds when I disagree with others' viewpoints, but it also made me question why more people simply accept the statements of those around them. It is perhaps an issue of trust, where a rational person hears an idea from a trustworthy friend, a pastor, or the news program of his/her choice. Any information that disagrees with that is met with disdain. Thus, I've begun to try to interrogate my own views. Do I believe in any conspiracy theories? Are there any ideas of my own that I have not interrogated? It isn't easy, but it at least has me thinking and considering other viewpoints.

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