What's the deal with conspiracy nuts?

Simple question with what is probably a complex answer.

So what’s the deal with people who believe in conspiracies or have beliefs so wild and unorthodox as to to be considered bizarre?

It can’t be chalked up to simple ignorance or stupidity. Sometimes these people are highly educated.

Is it some sort of mental illness or break from reality?

Are they simply coming at it from a different perspective that the rest of us can’t see?

Are they right and we’re the ignorant ones?

What causes someone to believe so strongly in something that cannot be proven or has strong evidence that it can be disproven that they refuse to entertain the possibility they might be wrong.

Maybe they’ve been scammed earlier in life or were once very gullible. Now they’ve gone off the deep end of “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” and feel like they can trust no one.
They’ve gone from skeptic to paranoid skeptic.

People tend to believe what they want to believe. If they want to think that the US can’t be hurt by a couple guys, some planning, and some planes, then they will make up anything they have to to make themselves think otherwise. See: religion.

I would add, the JFK assassination industry has been running for a long time-and has been a meal ticket for the many authors fed by the craze. I am really surprised that a major publisher would spend the money on something so late as Vincent Bugliosi’s book. But i guess enough people will buy it.
The whole phenomena puzzles me-we are 44 years after the event, and nothing has come out that disproves the Warren Commission report-weird!

‘Knowing’ a conspiracy theory is ‘true’ means that you ‘know’ more than the average person. Thus you can consider yourself to be special and better than average people with a minimum investment of effort.

If the Conspiracy Theory turns out to not be true, then the theorist is no longer special. As a result they will employ massive amounts of cognitive dissonance to maintain that level of speciality. If you can shake them out of it in the early stages it can work. But beyond a certain point there’s no turning back for the theorist.

People who have self esteem problems are quick to seize on being in the know. If the only way you have to feel superior is to be in on a secret, you’ll look for a secret. The bigger the secret, the bigger the reward. JFK’s assassination, the moon landing hoax, those loose change idiots, Rosicrucians are all part of the same phenomenon. They know something that the rest of us don’t.
(on editing–Crap, what Mr. Miskatonic said.

Mysteries are very appealing. I can definitely see how people can feel an urge to invent one where none exist.

All conspiracy theorists are in a single conspiracy to take over the world; their incompatible and incoherent rantings are expounded just to make sure we never suspect them.

I think there’s also an element of needing to do something about terrible events that are beyond our control. There’s nothing I can do, personally, to rectify the events of 9/11, or prevent them from happening again. But if there was a big conspiracy to cover what really happened, and I’m one of the few people who know about it and am willing to talk, all of the sudden, I’m not just special, but I’m helping! I’m no longer at the mercy of random lunatics with impossible-to-predict grudges, but am instead striking a blow for truth and justice with every link to a badly photoshopped image of a pile of rubble.

Remove specific references to 9/11 from the above, and again, see Religion.

Probably nothing you have read disproves the Warren report. But hundreds of books and research has. Remember 70% of Americans didn’t believe the report when it hit the streets. Mostly because they heard it on radio, saw it on TV, were there, etc. People are free to believe what they want. I am always surprised to hear people who knew nothing about it but what they were told in school say everyone is ignorant but them.

I am always suprised when anyone reports their opinion as fact.

Scratch that; No, i’m not. I tend to think any book or other research that definitively proves things one way or the other would be pretty damn hyped up; especially when people are as divided in opinion. I myself have read books on the assassination (and actually in school; it was part of a history module) that suggested one way or the other or indeed gave multiple possibilities. I personally don’t think events transpired much differently as to how they are mainly said to have done. But I would not claim that such ideas are totally debunked. After all, that would be the sign of a closed mind.

They are fearful.

It is easier for them to accept that a great leader has been killed for some sinister, hidden purpose–than it is to accept that Bad Things Happpen, randomly, & we have no real control over this.