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Conspiracy theories are used as an attempt to make sense of an event that has happened. The event is usually a major political, historical or social event. It is what lies behind the theories that interests people the most. According to theorists, the perpetrator of the event is usually a secret organization or a powerful person. These ideas are often dismissed with claims of paranoia and can be likened to urban legends.
Theories about conspiracies have been of interest to psychologists, sociologists and folklore experts since the 1960s. The assassination of President Kennedy attracted a deluge of speculation around his death. There are still questions today surrounding the real culprits behind the assassination.
Conspiracy theories are thought to be a human condition. When events have a significant impact on our lives, we try and make sense of those events in a spiritual, political, moral or scientific way. Events that seem to be inexplicable inspire us to look harder for the reason behind them until we are satisfied. Many psychologists believe that a person who believes in one conspiracy theory will also believe in others.
Often, these theories are linked with paranoia. Paranoia is said to be an animal's ability to spot danger. Such an ability is valuable in order to read other's hidden intentions and to be able to predict future behavior. If there were a malfunction in this ability, then the result might be that the animal sees danger everywhere. This may be the case with a conspiracy theorist, who may simply have a malfunction in his evolutionary psychology.
Conspiracy theories exhibit several features. They can build up over time, as theories are expanded on and more people add their own opinions to them. They can involve just about anybody, and as the arguments and counter arguments grow, so does the conspiracy. Theories about such events as the Kennedy assassination are known the world over. They have been made into films and books, and the actual culprit may have been swamped and lost under the weight of such theories.