…It’s tempting to dismiss conspiracy theorists as wearers of tinfoil hats. But the theories should be taken seriously for their effects on political and social discourse — and research suggests that, under the right circumstances, many people are susceptible to their allure.
…Conspiracy theorists often have a high degree of tolerance for contradiction that allows them to ignore evidence against their theories.
…Conspiracy theories also supply a seductive ego boost. Believers often consider themselves part of a select in-group that — unlike the deluded masses — has figured out what’s really going on.
…Showing concern for a conspiracy theory’s victims, the study suggests, isn’t a good debunking strategy — especially when the theory is racist, discriminatory or otherwise harmful.
It’s hard to reason with people who embrace conspiracy theories, but some strategies are more effective than others.