What Makes People Credulous? A study on hoaxes an people's credulity

Essay by ErdemKUCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2004

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Why people, all around the world, believe weird things and fall for hoaxes? In his book, entitled "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and other Confusions of Our Time," M. Sherman explains why people believe weird things, as mentioned in the title of the book. According to him, most people, who believe weird things and fall for hoaxes are normal human beings. The reason for credulity is "thinking which has gone wrong in some way." In his book, there are four main and general mistakes or problems making people believe weird things or fall for hoaxes. These are problems in pseudoscientific, psychological, scientific and logical thinking. In the light of Sherman's book, I would explain that people believe weird things and fall for hoaxes because of the problems in thinking.

One of the thinking problems is psychological problems in thinking as mentioned in Sherman's book. In this category, he describes a very important example of psychological problems is "the need for certainty."

Briefly, he tells that in most events, most people need certain answers. At that point, I would say that most people need some answers and want to be sure about their environments. Therefore, they can believe weird things and fall for hoaxes as a result of needing an explanation even if it is very simple or weird. Take the case of Kevin Connolly's article, entitled "A Moving Tale from County Cork." He tells a story about the statue of the Virgin Mary at Ballinspittle and the people who believe that the monument is moving. At first, a person or group of people claimed that the statue is moving. At that point people who looked for an answer for the question, which is "did it really move?" They believed that statue was moving as a "need...