Trump, the conspiracy theorist

One of the most striking features of the GOP front-runner is his special fondness for conspiracy theories. From the (non-existent) connection between vaccines and autism to the “real culprits” behind 9/11, he shows the typical clustered endorsement of multiple conspiracy theories.

The question about whether this a form of pandering or a genuinely held set of perspectives is interesting, though barely relevant. In the former case, the abandonment of reason to achieve a political goal is an egregious fault. In the latter case, it sheds considerable light on crucial decision-making capacities. Endorsement of conspiracy theories requires a set of cognitive biases that fundamentally hobble evidence-based decision making.

The great polemic Christopher Hitchens called conspiracy theories “the exhaust fumes of democracy.” A lot of people are apparently intoxicated on those fumes.