Jonathan Gottschall considers why some folks buy conspiracy theories. A nugget:
Part of the attraction of conspiracy theory is simply the attraction of a good story. Conspiracy theories fascinate us because they are such ripping good yarns. They offer vivid, lurid plots that translate with telling ease into wildly popular entertainment: novels like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and James Elroy’s “Underworld USA Trilogy”; films like JFK and the The Manchurian Candidate; television shows like 24 and The X-Files.
There are other biases that make far-fetched conspiracy theories so congenial to the human mind, including a reasoning bias that leads us to believe that a major event must have a major cause (peons like James Earl Ray can’t kill a King) and a confirmation bias that powerfully innoculates conspiracy theories against disconfirming evidence. But above all, conspiracy theory is a reflex of our need for meaningful experience.