A significant proportion of the unvaccinated … are vaccine conspiracists, who believe the coronavirus vaccine is dangerous, or at least, unnecessary.
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Explore This IssueSeptember 2021
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As for the flag, NASA scientists did not want the American flag to hang limply against the flagpole, so they added a crossbar to keep the flag unfurled. The crossbar was a little too short, so the flag had to be bunched up, creating the appearance of a permanently fluttering flag.13
Fifty years after the moon landing occurred, an additional piece of evidence was found: If you look closely at the iconic photo, you actually can see Buzz Aldrin’s face, after all. By manipulating contrast and color, Andy Saunders was able to bring out the faint image of Buzz Aldrin, facing the photographer, smiling for the camera.14
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say the moon landing was a hoax. How hard would it be to perpetrate such large-scale deception? Apparently, pretty hard. David R. Grimes, PhD, created a mathematical model to predict how long a group of people could keep a secret before it was revealed, either accidentally or deliberately. Assuming that all 411,000 NASA employees were in on the hoax, the plot would have unraveled in a little under four years.15
Given all of this evidence, why do one in 10 Americans continue to believe the moon landing is a hoax?
Born to Conspire
First, we need to acknowledge the obvious: Conspiracies exist. I would have never believed the U.S. government was illegally spying on vast numbers of people until Edward Snowden made the evidence public.16 Another example: The U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee was a conspiracy that prevented 399 Black men from receiving treatment for syphilis, so scientists could record the natural history of the disease.17
Some date the loss of American innocence to the Watergate scandal. Prior to the Watergate break-in, most Americans assumed the government could be trusted. Afterward, widespread distrust of the government became commonplace.18 In fact, 55% of all Americans believe in at least one major conspiracy theory.19 The most popular? The 2007 global financial crisis was engineered by a handful of Wall Street moguls, who were trying to extend their stranglehold on the world’s economy. One out of four Americans believe this conspiracy theory.
It is worth pointing out that there is a natural human tendency to see conspiracy all around us. Have you ever said, things happen for a reason? Have you ever thought the refs were obviously throwing the game for the other side? All of these are examples of conspiratorial thinking, writ small.
Human evolution may naturally favor those who are capable of conspiratorial thinking. At the dawn of civilization, the ability to pick out patterns from chaos may have provided our progenitors with an edge. When we first formed tribes, seeing those outside your group as potentially malicious may have helped our ancestors survive longer than most.20
Conspiratorial thinking is characterized by seven traits, which are summarized by the acronym CONSPIR:21