Today’s quotes are drawn from Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories, by Rob Brotherton. I’m especially happy to have to finished it, because now I can get Elvis out of my head. It was a stellar book, an end-year top ten candidate.
“When we do bad things, we are good at rationalizing our behavior as a momentary lapse or a reasonable and justified response to circumstances. When other people do bad things, though, it’s because they are just bad to the bone; we assume that evildoers are driven primarily by sadism and malice, inflicting harm for the sheer pleasure of doing so, while their victims are wholly innocent. The result is that, like Santa Claus, we have an irresistible compulsion to sort people into just two categories: good or bad, saint or sinner, naughty or nice. [….]
“There is no ‘us versus them.’ They are us. We are them. By painting conspiracism as some bizarre psychological tick that blights the minds of a handful of paranoid kooks, we smugly absolve ourselves of the faulty thinking we see so readily in others. But we’re doing the same thing as conspiracists who blame all of society’s ills on some small shadowy cabal. And we’re wrong. Conspiracy-thinking is ubiquitous, because it’s a product, in part, of how all of our minds are working all the time.”