Nowadays, there are tons and tons conspiracy theories out there. It almost feels like everyone became a conspiracy theorist. Now, if you have time to do so, go ahead open your search engine and search the conspiracy theories for any popular brand that you have in mind, and you will find out that almost every popular brands that you searched on search engine have their own conspiracy theories. Whether is about the logo of the brand, the material that used to produce it, and many other factors.
Some of the theories actually still stuck in my head right now because of the reasoning that doesn’t make any sense. Some of them are way too abstract and random that is so easy to be forgotten. So because of that, I have been asking myself why and how this could happen? Today I’m gonna explain to you the influence of internet that endorsed the delusionality of conspiracy theorists.
So the main premise of this post is that search engine gives conspiracy theorists the sense of knowing the truth. If you read my first post about conspiracy theories, you will know that human is truly a great pattern notifier, we often connect unrelated and random events and notify them as a pattern. Sometimes we are too good at it that makes us notify a pattern that isn’t there.
One of the examples that I think resemble this phenomenon perfectly is when Apple released the shuffle feature of iPod. After people use it, people are complaining. They said that the random feature wasn’t really that random. So Apple responds the complaints by programming the shuffle feature to be less random to make it appear more random, by ensuring that the song that will be played after is completely different than before.
Now, going back to the sense of knowing the truth. In 2017, there are currently 3.58 billion internet users, in the world. So that means that are about 3.6 billion people that connected and exposed to the information that the internet gave, and what happens if we get many pieces of information? We notice patterns. Knowing that number of internet users, there is a huge possibility that a person with a crazy and false idea/pattern will meet another person with the same and identical idea/pattern online. Because now, everyone could write blog posts, upload their idea to social medias, etc.
So if I notice a pattern and search it, there is a probability that you will find someone who thinks exactly like you on the internet. Because after someone post/upload their idea online at any time and anywhere in the earth, the data will be stored in the database, and will be displayed/activated if there is a keyword that is relevant and related to the idea. This condition of course causes the delusionality thinking of conspiracy theorists.
In this post, I gonna share with you the two concepts that have a big role in this delusional thinking. The first concept is the confirmatory thought. The search engine is accommodating and supporting us to thinking with a confirmatory thought rather than an exploratory thought. Confirmatory thought is one-sided effort to justify and rationalize an idea and opinion. This, of course leads to confirmation bias, which I explain in my previous post about how conspiracy theories made.
When we search about our idea, the search engine automatically will display the pages that relevant to the keyword that we have searched, not the one that opposes the keyword. So if my keyword is to support an idea, the search engine will only display the idea that supports the keyword. This condition will suppress us to thinking in with an exploratory thought. Exploratory thought means the neutral and evenhanded attempt that we made to consider an idea and opinion with many alternative and possible point of view. For example, let’s google “why earth is flat”:
As you can see, the top 2 post is purposed to reassuring us to believe that the earth is flat. This type of searching indirectly will support confirmatory thought and make us harder to think with an exploratory thought. For another example, Let’s google “why aliens are real”:
Again, the search engine only displayed the page that relevant to the keyword, rather than explain the whole idea/opinion neutrally. After you click and visit many pages, there is another psychological phenomenon that is responsible from the delusionality which is called social proof. Social proof is the assumptions we made to conclude that an action is a right thing to do because other many people do it too. The more people doing it, the surer we are that the activity is the right thing to do. In this case, the more page/website publish and support our theory, we assume that the conspiracy theory is true because others also do believe it is true.
Social proof is the assumptions we made to conclude that an action is a right thing to do because other people do it too. The more people doing it, the surer we are that the activity is the right thing to do. In this case, the more page/website publish and support our theory, we assume that the conspiracy theory is true because others also do believe it is true.
If I had a theory and I found out that countless website has the same related point as I do in my theory, my confidence of the truthness of the theory will be increasing quite radically. This is what I call delusional. Because of the search engine, how ridiculous your theory is, you are more likely to find supporters that support your idea. Also because of the search engine, you are less likely to look at your theory neutrally and fairly.
So that’s overall my opinion about how the internet endorses the delusionality of conspiracy theorists, and as I said before and I’m gonna say it again. This is purely my opinion, I have absolutely no meaning to either blame or to spread hate speech to either the search engine developers and the conspiracy theorists.
REFERENCES AND SUPPORTING ARTICLES
* All products require an annual contract. Prices do not include sales tax (New York residents only). (n.d.). Number of internet users worldwide 2005-2017. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/273018/number-of-internet-users-worldwide/
Bellos, A. (2010, December 07). And now for something completely random, by ALEX BELLOS. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1334712/Humans-concept-randomness-hard-understand.html
Conspiracy theory. (2017, September 28). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
Exploratory thought. (2017, August 31). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploratory_thought
Haidt, J. (2013). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Vintage Books.
Social proof. (2017, September 17). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof