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Podcast: Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?


In this episode of the Psych Central Show, hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales discuss conspiracy theories with guest John M. Grohol, Psy.D., founder and CEO of Psych

Dr. Grohol explains what exactly is meant by “conspiracy theory” and where the theories come from. Discussion includes questions of whether conspiracy theories are ways for people to rationalize why horrific tragedies occur; if they are based on distrust of authority figures; and if those who believe them are just attention-seekers. Ultimately, the question is raised of how to respond to them.

Can we convince theorists that they’re wrong and, if so, how do we do it?

Conspiracy Theory Show Highlights:

“Our minds seek out a rationale…something that will help put a horrible event or tragedy into some sort of perspective.” ~ John Grohol

[1:05]               What is a conspiracy theory and where do they come from?

[2:19]               Are conspiracy theories just a way to “make sense” of horrific tragedies?

[6:50]               What’s the connection between conspiracy theories and distrust of authority?

[8:44]               Are believers really just attention seekers?

[12:12]             The role of cognitive bias in the belief of conspiracy theories.

[13:01]             Are conspiracy theories invented just to mess with people?

[14:15]             How do we convince believers in conspiracy theories that they’re wrong?

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About Our Guest

John M. Grohol, Psy.D. is the founder & CEO of, a mental health and human behavior/technology expert, co-author of Self-Help That Works (Oxford University Press, 2013), the author of The Insider’s Guide to Mental Health Resources Online, and is a published researcher. He sits on the scientific board of the journal, Computers in Human Behavior and was previously on the editorial boards of CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and the Journal of Medical Internet Research. He is a founding board member and current treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and sits on the board of the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression. He currently oversees, the world’s leading mental health resource offering information and support groups to over seven million people each month.


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About The Psych Central Show Podcast Hosts


Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In addition to hosting The Psych Central Show, Gabe is an associate editor for He also runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join.  To work with Gabe, please visit his website,



Vincent M. Wales
 is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. In addition to co-hosting The Psych Central Show, Vincent is the author of several award-winning novels and the creator of costumed hero Dynamistress. Visit his websites at and



Podcast: Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?

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Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website,

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APA Reference
Howard, G. (2018). Podcast: Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Oct 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.