Most of us know a few conspiracy theories, but there are many more out there. A good chunk of people ends up believing them, despite more plausible evidence being readily available.
In his three-video series on TikTok, David Hundsness of Pet Earthling said that ego plays a huge role in why conspiracy theories stick.
David Hundsness of Pet Earthling went to explain the whys and hows of conspiracy theories.
The three-part series of TikTok videos discussing the topic of conspiracy theories were created by David. He explained why people believe in conspiracy theories, focusing on the idea that ego is the main reason people fall for them in the first place.
“I’ve always been fascinated with how people can be so illogical and irrational sometimes, even against their own good, and conspiracy theories are a great example of that,” explained Hundsness. “They are also very topical now with COVID and the vaccines, and The Big Lie of the 2020 election. So when I started this new TikTok video series, that was my first topic.”
There are 4 reasons as to why people believe in a conspiracy, but it is the ego that actually does the heavy lifting.
He said that it was based on some research. The categories he lists in his videos are based on Karen Douglas. The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories covers three of them and the last and main article is covered in the research article.
He mentioned a CNN interview with Heather Simpson, an anti-vaxxer, as one of the inspirations for the video series.
There are 4 reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories. Lack of information, where conspiracies fill in the missing knowledge gap, anxiety, where conspiracies help locate potential threats and wanting to follow in-groups, are some of the reasons why. If you are associated with a group that wants you to believe stuff, and you have an ego, you will most likely will.
He believes ego is the biggest factor here. Conspiracists think they are part of a special group of an independent thinker who knows the truth and follows mainstreams and whatnot.
“Imagine someone who wasn’t particularly successful in school or their career. So deep down, their ego feels inferior. But if they believe the conspiracy theorists, well, now they feel like they’re smarter than most others, and a small group of people will tell them so,” explained Hundsness in his video.
The same applies to an educated doctor. There are cases of doctors that take extreme positions against vaccines and masks, which is fueled by ego because they may not have achieved much in their careers, but now suddenly they are recognized and it feels great.
You know what? The only root of all the conspiracies is the ego factor, while the other three are not required.
“Until a couple of years ago, most Americans thought conspiracy theories were just harmless jokes—the earth is flat, the moon landing was faked, the government covered up UFOs and an alien autopsy,” elaborated Hundsness. “But over history around the world, conspiracy theories have been very dangerous. We are seeing that now with the Capitol Insurrection and so many anti-vaxxers dying from COVID-19.”
They admit that it is impossible to prove a conspiracist wrong for the same reason. There is always hope.
The news would have to be broken by someone who they trust, like a person from their in-group, or at the very least someone neutral. Also, letting this all slide and forgetting about it would help the process, but it can be a long and tedious one, requiring patience and time, so brace yourself.
Whether they agreed, disagreed, or debated the issue, people online had a lot to say.
“Conspiracy theories normally aren’t planned or used for a purpose—e.g. the moon landing was faked, the world is flat, the monarchy assassinated Princess Diana, etc. That’s just stuff people started to believe. No one has anything to gain from that (except people who sell stuff to conspiracy theorists).”
“But ‘The Big Lie’ is a glaring exception. Trump and his party had a lot to gain by sowing doubt about the 2020 election. So that was deliberate emotional manipulation for political gain. Even though they failed to overturn the election, they held onto a huge following because of this tactic,” concluded Hundsness.
The video series drew a lot of attention from the internet, with over 200k likes.
People had a lot to say. Some people pointed out that it can go both ways and that those in the mainstream can be influenced by ego as well. One of the commenters pointed out that a good movie would make life less boring if there was a conspiracy.