Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

My book, Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories, is out now! You can buy it now from all the usual places, in hardback and for Kindle and other e-readers. ( / / Barnes & Noble / Waterstones)

Here’s what the book is all about…

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. The plots of countless Hollywood blockbusters, bestselling books, and beloved TV shows revolve around conspiratorial shenanigans, and surprising numbers of people believe that the kinds of vast, insidious conspiracies that Mulder and Scully routinely unearthed on The X-Files are happening right now in the real world. Yet conspiracy theories are not a recent invention, and they are not always a harmless curiosity.

In SUSPICIOUS MINDS: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories (Bloomsbury / November 17, 2015 / $27, hardcover), Rob Brotherton, a research psychologist and leading expert on the psychology of conspiracy theory, explores the history and consequences of conspiracism, and offers insights into why so many of us are drawn to implausible, unproven and unprovable conspiracy theories. They resonate with some of our brain’s built-in quirks and foibles, and tap into some of our deepest desires, fears, and assumptions about the world. But conspiracy theories are not unique in eliciting our brain’s biases. From our love of heroic underdogs to our tendency to see hidden hands behind ambiguous events, the same mental quirks that make conspiracy theories appealing are constantly shaping how we think about the world. Most of the time our biases simply slip by unnoticed.

The fascinating psychology of conspiracy theories tells us a lot about how our minds are wired and, indeed, why we believe anything at all. Conspiracy theories are not some psychological aberration—they’re a predictable product of how brains work. And, of course, just because your brain’s biased doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. Sometimes conspiracies are real. Sometimes, paranoia is prudent.

Conspiracy theorists aren’t just a few kooks lurking on the paranoid fringes of society with bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptiles secretly running society. According to Brotherton, we’re all conspiracy theorists—some of us just hide it better than others.

And here’s what people are saying about it…

 “Sophisticated and absorbing…This is a first-class book. It melds science, history and popular culture cleverly and with purpose.” James McConnachie (author of The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories), Sunday Times

“…presents a textured and often surprising look into the fascinating world of conspiracy theories. A world so often described as dark and shady is shown to be much closer to home than we could have first imagined.”Ella Rhodes, The Psychologist

“[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 Magazine

“[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

“Rob Brotherton, an academic psychologist, gives a greatest-hits tour of conspiracy theories past and present, all the while seeking to explain their appeal. Rather than some unhinged mode of being, he argues, conspiracy thinking represents a heightening of cognitive tendencies shared by almost everyone. –Pacific Standard

“The world of conspiracy theory is a minefield of manic personalities, but Brotherton uses a measured scientific tone to explain our more creative anxieties. His 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

“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.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Over the course of this all-too-short book, 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, as well as a given individual’s understanding of how the world works. Put simply, people want to believe. Brotherton maintains an educational approach to the material, leading readers through the logic behind each concept as he explores subjects as diverse as the Illuminati, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (“not a very good fake”), the Kennedy assassination, and birthers. 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.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

About Rob Brotherton

Rob is a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, and assistant editor of The Skeptic []. Follow Rob on Twitter: @rob_brotherton

Best of UFO News Clips Compilation Video

Best-Of Compilation Video of UFO News Clips:
FAIR USE NOTICE: These Videos may contain copyrighted (©) material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available to advance understanding of ecological, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior general interest in receiving similar information for research and educational purposes.

Thanks to the following:

UFO Sightings on the Rise in 2012 On FOX News

UFOs FOX News Mexican Air Force Feb 16, 2012

xUFO Fox News Report in Cleveland Jan 3, 2012

UFO Jerusalem Dome of the Rock Temple Mount Oct 25, 2011

UFO in Fox news 2011 Feb 27, 2011

UFO’s on FOX News – The NASA Disclosure October 12, 2011

Vatican Ponders Aliens Feb 5, 2011

UFO Sighting near San Diego December, 2008

Fox News: UFO over New Jersey Jan 23, 2009

Blue-Colored UFO in Centreville Virginia November 3, 2010

FOX News Washington – National Press Club Press Conference 27 September 2010

CNN News – Daytime Orb UFO’s seen over Sandstorm in Phoenix Arizona July 5, 2011 USA

CNN News Stephenville, Texas UFO Reports Jul 5, 2010

CNN Headline UFO News with Glenn Beck Oct 16, 2009

Video Breaking News about a UFO CNN Oct 16, 2009

Phoenix Arizona UFO CNN Aug 21, 2010

Robert Hastings CNN – Washington DC UFO Conference Mar 29, 2011

UFO reported in Turkey on channel 10 Oct 27, 2008

UFO on the media: UFO in China Jun 30, 2011

Media Coverage OF Stephenville Texas UFO Jan 17, 2008

UFO fleet reported from South Korean news Nov 10, 200

News Report on UFO Fema Manual ‘Chapter 13’ Feb 13, 2011

Reports of a UFO over southeastern Oklahoma Nov 11, 2011

Fox 4 News – A dramatic spike in Triangle Shaped UFO reports Oct 22, 2011

UFO Fireball over Flagler Beach Florida July 27, 2011

UFO’s Reported In The Mainstream Media – Best of UFO News Clips Compilation Video

Do You Have The Guts To Look This Creepy Doll In The Eyes?

Most people only need two seconds to figure out if a doll is creepy.

The employees of one New York City website apparently need two weeks.

From now until May 10, people who log on to The Lineup, a site devoted to all things creepy, is hosting a live web stream of “Ann,” a doll rumored to be haunted by the restless spirit of a 13-year-old girl.

That 13-year-old girl supposedly died in the early 1900s while being treated for tuberculosis at Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky.

Website spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said they picked up “Ann” for $100 on eBay from a paranormal group in Ohio whose name she can’t remember.

“We did the ‘Buy It Now’ option,” she said. “We unboxed her last week and put in a storage closet at our offices in New York.

“We heard she was afraid of the dark so we have a light on her at all times.”

People who want to see if Ann is haunted for themselves can view the live stream via Youtube.

It may be slow-going but Johnson said a couple of bizarre things have already happened.

“Our live stream went dead at one point and it turns out the computer cord was physically removed,” she said. “The time stamp on the computer said 8:27 — a time when no one was in the office.”

Johnson also says people have been having strange problems with their phones. At one point during her phone conversation with HuffPost, the phone went dead.

At one point, an employee attempted to talk with “Ann.”

“We had an electro-magnetic frequency sensor near the doll that was silent,” Johnson said. “One of my co-workers said, ‘Hi Ann, welcome to the office’ and the sensor went off.”

Jennifer Johnson

Between now and May 10, “Ann” will be tested, observed and analyzed by paranormal experts. 

But she better not get used to her surroundings because she won’t be at the office very long.

Johnson said the website is holding an essay contest where people explain why they’d be the best home for a supposedly haunted doll.

The person who sends the most creative and heartfelt essay to will win “Ann” for their very own.

Johnson thinks that’s actually a good deal.

“She doesn’t seem malevolent,” she said.