Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories Hardcover – November 17, 2015
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"[W]hen we’re faced with events we cannot understand, it’s natural for our brains to create a narrative--even if it means ‘casting the world in terms of "us versus"' to potentially dangerous ends, as Brotherton puts it. ‘There are more conspiracy theorists out there than you might expect,’ he writes. ‘Chances are you know some. Chances are you are one.’" - TIME
"[Brotherton] casts doubt on the assumption that far-fetched beliefs are reserved for the simple-minded or the exceedingly paranoid . . . Although we like to think our judgments are based on evidence, Brotherton reveals that a host of psychological factors come into play whenever we choose what to believe." - Scientific American
"Brotherton relates the history of conspiracy theories, from the Illuminati and the Great Fire of London to Area 51 and the 9/11 attacks. But he is loath to write off any of these ideas as limited to a lunatic fringe." - Psychology Today
"Clearly written and with liberal use of humor and numerous examples from scholarly research, this title provides a valuable look at why conspiracy theories abound and why we should continually assess our thinking." - starred review, Library Journal
"Brotherton illustrates how incomplete, contradictory, coincidental, and incongruent information can allow people to see conspiracies and connections where there are none, due in part to the theories’ plausibility and humans’ innate desire for order . . . While Brotherton might not convince all believers to remove their tinfoil hats (a concept whose origin he explains), it’s sure to make readers question their worldview." - starred review, Publishers Weekly
"[Brotherton's] writing style is inviting and even cheeky, and the book is a page-turner. A thoughtful, general analysis of conspiracy theories arguing that belief in secret plots is neither new nor unusual but a time-tested part of the human experience." - Kirkus Reviews
"A thought-provoking analysis and an appealing guide to thinking about conspiracies, real and imagined." - Wall Street Journal
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1472915610
- ISBN-10 : 1472915615
- Product Dimensions : 5.82 x 1.01 x 8.49 inches
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Sigma; 1st Edition (November 17, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #983,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I have been researching the Kennedy assassination for 25 years, with a fair amount of study of other conspiracy theories and related subjects, like belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal. I started out as a conspiracy believer (at least as far as JFK was concerned), but ultimately I changed my mind. Ever since, one of the burning questions for me has been how I fell under the sway of that mindset.
Rob Brotherton has done an excellent job of laying out the evidence that there are fundamental reasons we believe in conspiracy theories, and conspiracy thinking is anything but the irrational behavior of people on the fringe. Rather, we have psychological dispositions that make us hyper-vigilant against threats and conspiracies, in reading patterns in the information we receive -- so much so, that we may see such patterns even when they aren't real. This is not just one author's opinion; Brotherton draws on scientific research to make his case. The results are illuminating and thought-provoking.
The book is not a personal attack against conspiracy theorists, as Brotherton himself insists. It very specifically and explicitly rejects the stereotype of the tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy nut. He emphasizes the factors that makes conspiracy thinking very common and natural. He also does not attempt to debunk specific conspiracy theories (although he does single out a few that are of particular historical significance). The point of the book is to show that, while conspiracy theorists maintain that their theories arise from evidence, there's more at work in our brains than we are aware of. We need to keep these factors in mind as we evaluate the world around us. Some things may be exactly as they seem, but sometimes our minds play tricks on us. It doesn't make us stupid or crazy; it makes us human.
You don't have to be a student of conspiracy theories or conspiracy thinking to benefit from this book. If you're curious about why conspiracy theories are so prevalent and why they're so compelling -- to John (or Jane) Q. Public, world leaders, or, well, you yourself -- you'll find this both a lucid, well researched study, and an enjoyable read as well. I recommend it most highly.
“… the scientific method doesn’t come naturally to us. Our brain evolved to interpret patterns quickly and decisively.” And that comes into play as we muddle our way through a world in which we are desperate to find meaning and surrounded by near infinite amounts of data begging to be sorted and, when possible, linked. Under those circumstances, “buying into a conspiracy is the cognitive equivalent of seeing meaning in randomness.” It’s a very advantageous trait that allows us to see, for example, the patterns of the face of hungry a tiger mixed in with foliage and make a quick turnaround.
Equally important, conspiracies make those who harbor them feel like there is meaning in the universe because “It is supremely unsatisfying to think that our good or bad fortune is nothing more than blind chance…”
I was especially struck by the examination of just how much credit conspiracy theories give to the other side. “… conspiracy theorists seem to have ‘startling faith in the capabilities of their enemies.’ At the very least, they propose that when the conspirators set events in motion they are able to predict how things will unfold with seemingly clairvoyant foresight.” It’s puzzling how much power is given away to the faceless Illuminati, especially given the evidence we have daily of how blessed hard it is for humans to keep their mouths shut and cover up anything, really.
He builds an interesting and very convincing theory, but one that is only ever treated at a superficial level. There are many, many examples of often fascinating conspiracies from ancient days to the modern era (JFK, Obama birthers, 911, the moon landing), all presented in an engaging writing style. It’s fun, and fascinating and also a little unnerving — those who are most entrenched in the deepest conspiracies find reinforcement in the lack of supportive evidence — but I would have liked a bit more depth and rigor around the cognitive science the many psychological studies quoted. Still, well worth the read.
1. proportionality bias
2. Conformation bias
3. Assimilation bias
4. compensatory control
5. False consensus
6. Intentionality bias
By taking these into account in our thinking it should help us avoid conspiratorial thing.
It’s interesting to go through his little history of conspiracy’s, all in all an interesting read.
This book covers similar aspects of human cognition and behavior.
EVERYONE should learn more about how the mind is wired to work and how this system can go awry.
This book was entertaining, well written, and heavily researched.