What strange thing links these two dead people?
Some conspiracy theorists think they're both still alive.
One reason is that it's difficult to change the belief of someone who believes in a conspiracy theory.
Normal logic doesn't quite apply. Those who want to believe will believe even if two of their beliefs contradict each other.
A study by University of Kent psychologists found that the same people who believed that Princess Diana was assassinated in a plot by the intelligence service were also the ones who believed she might have faked her own death.
And people who believed that Osama bin Laden was dead before he was officially declared dead were also the ones who believed that he was probably still alive.
What's going on here? How can these people believe two things that are mutually exclusive?
It actually makes sense - if you're someone who believes that authorities (like the government) are deceptive and lying to you, you're going to choose to not believe those authorities, no matter what they say.
As the authors of the study say: "Any official explanation is at a disadvantage, and any alternative explanation is more credible from the start."
In other words, if you don't trust the source, why would you believe anything it says?
- Research from the U.K.'s University of Kent shows that a strong distrust of authorities can lead people to embrace just about anything. Study of the Day: Conspiracy Buffs Will Believe Even the Impossible, The Atlantic>>
- Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories (Opens PDF directly), Social Psychological and Personality Science, Sage Publications>>