Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories? Do we need to evaluate the evidence for ourselves, or should we just trust the experts? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’re discussing science and skepticism, and the role that trust plays in deciding what's true.
Conspiracy theorists think quasi-rationally, but their thinking only goes in one direction. Because conspiracy theorists are less analytic, their thinking tends not to override their starting intuitions. So how can we alleviate people's tendencies to adopt irrational conspiracy theories?
You might think that conspiracy theorists like the flat earthers don't really think about things. But if you've ever argued with one, you'll find that they do. They have an answer for everything. So how do we reconcile their irrationality with their rational thinking?
One person says the medical establishment pushes autism-causing vaccines on the public. Another claims the tobacco industry colluded to distort the evidence that smoking causes cancer. But is there some principled way for us to distinguish wacko conspiracy theories from those that are true and reasonable?