Four Keys to Help a Conspiracy Theorist

I found this “Psychology Today” article about QAnon helpful. It can likely extend to other conspiracy theories. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

4 Keys to Help Someone Climb Out of the QAnon Rabbit Hole | Psychology Today

  1. Understand that “QAnons” Don’t Want to be Saved
    2.Be a “North Star”
  2. Refer to Debunking Experts
  3. Get Help for Yourself



Hmmm. I’ve never encountered anyone who wants to climb out. I didn’t. It took a bolt of enlightenment hitting my cult leader to get me out. None of us here is going to budge from our foxholes.

From the article in the OP:

That’s something I have noticed as well. The myth of persecution is a part of many conspiracy groups, and something I have seen loved ones lean on when evidence is problematic for their position. I have heard from people who have attended DI seminars, and one of the biggest themes they push is how you will be persecuted if you accept intelligent design. I think this is part of the conspiratorial immune system that helps to push the evidence away.


Another thought I recently encountered in a couple of places (including in Randy’s linked article here again) … is that our brains don’t seem as configured for pursuit of truth quite so much as the pursuit of control. Conspiracy theorizing may help one at least have the illusion of or taste of some control in that … while all the other ‘sheeple’ are being played by the establishment powers, at least I am on to their schemes and have thus at least partially thwarted them by refusing to partake of their prescribed and approved sources.

What a sweet taste it is to imagine that one is part of the “in-group” - and sweeter still if that group is a highly select one.


Yes, thanks for that, nicely put. The friend I mentioned above had some personal trauma in her family due to another’s sinful behavior, and conspiracism was obviously a way for her to regain a sense of control, but I never saw it articulated quite as succinctly as you just did.


According to Aditya Shukla, [1] behind every belief in pseudoscience or any conspiracy are psychological needs or desires that manifest in many ways. He says that people have a need for:

  • security and safety;
  • gaining control and clarity;
  • removing uncertainty;
  • validating experiences;
  • autonomy, feeling independent and in control;
  • belonging to a community;

—among other things. Either science or pseudoscience can fulfill these needs; however, pseudoscience or conspiracy theories offer a more sensational way to satisfy these needs. Pseudoscience promises, whereas science only suggests.

[1] Aditya Shukla, “How to counter pseudoscience – It’s not about the evidence,” Cognition Today, October 12, 2020.


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