Conspiracies are nothing if not convincing – at least at face value – and we all have our favorites. But what happens when individual theories start contradicting one another? I mean, could Kennedy really have been assassinated by the CIA and the Mob, all in one day? How can conspiracy theorists hold two radically opposite ideas in their heads at the same time? A group of British researchers decided to find out.
A conspiracy, the researchers write, “is defined as a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” In their study they examined two widespread conspiracy theories: Ideas concerning the death (or not) of Osama bin Laden in 2011 and the death (or not) of Princess Diana in 1997.
Among other things, they examined the notion that 1) Osama bin Laden died years ago, and 2) his killing last summer was faked and he’s still alive, which some people apparently don’t regard as a contradiction.
In the end result, the researchers found that persons believing in one conspiracy theory are not only much likelier than the general population to believe in several such stories at once, but are also liable to accept mutually contradictory versions of the same tale. The only thing they can’t believe is that the official narrative could ever be true.