Suspicion makes us human
The internet may have made them more apparent, but conspiracy theories are as old as we are. "Ancestral humans were easily suspicious of a different tribe nearby, which might well have saved their lives. Modern humans are still easily suspicious of different groups – but now these different groups might consist of medics, scientists and pharmaceutical companies, leading people to refuse life-saving vaccines or treatments. Or they might consist of ethnic minorities, amplifying xenophobia, discrimination and exclusionary policies." Writing in Aeon, Jan-Willem van Prooije explains why our evolutionary need to survive has made us suspicious, and what it means for us now.