Believe the Apollo moon landings were faked? That 9/11 was an inside job? Congratulations! A new study shows you’ll believe, well…just about anything.
And no wonder: Italian researchers exploring the world of conspiracy theories via public Facebook posts and a clever algorithm found that conspiracy theorists got their news from, and interacted with, only “alternative” sites, believing that anything mainstream was simply part of the conspiracy.
One of the most revealing findings in the study, published in PLoS One, was that conspiracy theorists couldn’t distinguish between actual conspiracy news items and 4,000-plus false conspiracy items—about Viagra-laden chemtrails, for example—that the researchers created.
Conspiracy theories are “formulated to convey general paranoia,” says the study’s Walter Quattrociocchi, Ph.D. We’d still like to get to the bottom of the Kennedy assassination, though. One bullet? Bullshit.