Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Picture credits: studygrowknowblog.com

Conspiracy theories are not a modern invention. They have been a part of human civilization for a very long time. There are conspiracy theories that revolve around 9/11, moon landing, Adolf Hitler, Nazism, etc. Some conspiracy theories assert that Hitler did not commit suicide but escaped and lived in secrecy until his death (god knows what year). Even Antisemitism is believed to be based upon a conspiracy theory: a cabal of financiers (Jews) were secretly plotting to dominate the whole world and destroy the Aryan race. It was only a matter of time that Hitler found out about it and took the necessary steps.

When the whole world is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic conspiracy theories don’t seem to go anywhere. The most popular conspiracy theory during the pandemic is related to Bill Gates who is a Microsoft co-founder and a philanthropist. He had been accused of unleashing the virus so that he could make money while making a vaccine for it and then implant microchips into people to keep constant surveillance. The believers believed because how come he knew about a virus and not a war killing millions of people in the year 2015- five years prior to the pandemic.

Conspiracy theories might seem interesting but why such theories float among us all is a much more interesting question. Before jumping on to why we are so susceptible to misinformation it is critical to understand that there is a distinction between fiction and lies. Lies and fiction both play a role in conspiracy theories. Yuval Noah Harari who is one of my favorite thinkers believes there is a difference between lies and fiction. He believes lies are often spread intentionally to deceive people while fictional stories spread not with a malicious intent. They are passed on having best interests in our hearts. Fictions are actually needed so that we as a human race co-operate with one another. Take religion, for instance. Religion has no objective reality. It is only a fictional story. It is required so that we all live in unity. So, when people are spreading conspiracy theories they may not be lying about them. If they are passing them on it is important that they believe in them first. In the end they do believe.

Professor Harari believes human beings majorly are not very good when it comes to understanding complicated things like a virus. Making the efforts to understand the genetic code of a virus and how it replicates when it enters inside a living host seems quite daunting and difficult. So people prefer explanations that are easier to understand. Hence they believe in ridiculous theories. It is easier to understand that billionaires have started the pandemic than all the statistics and logical explanations scientists have been trying to put forth.

Human beings seek certainty. We are always questioning things happening around us and we eventually search for their answers. But when things get a little bit more uncertain we become very uncomfortable. As already mentioned that humans prefer easier explanations so, we go out & start finding comfort and conspiracy theories do just that.

Another reason why people fall prey to conspiracy theories is that human beings want security and a sense of control in their lives. When that security gets threatened and our comfort zone starts getting disrupted we turn to ideas that give back our lost sense of control and security. For instance if I don’t want my social life to come at halt during the pandemic and I want to keep socializing with people then false ideas generating ridiculous theories like ‘there is no such thing like COVID-19, it is a hoax’ will be taken seriously. It is because it’ telling me that I still have control over the things. And my security is still intact.

These are some of the reasons that shed light on why we have a tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. Can we do something about it? Maybe we can. Professor Harari believes this is high time we put our good faith in science. Instead of taking in information from unreliable sources with no knowledge of viruses, pandemics, public health, etc. we need to shift to reliable sources offering scientific explanations. Do not believe what a self-proclaimed scientist is telling you!! Furthermore, scientists should convey information not merely using statistics and some very complicated graphs. Rather in form of stories. Humans love stories and when something is passed on in form of nicely constructed stories they believe in them.

Conspiracy theories have a potential to cause a lot of damage. Imagine how many Jews had to die during the World War 2 due to one person’s delusions and misinformation. It is important to understand that we must not dismiss conspiracy theories entirely. While it is ridiculous that Bill Gates started the pandemic to implant chips into people it is critical to ponder upon the issue of global surveillance that central authority figures are already performing.

Are we really doomed?

Picture credits: Scientific American magazine

We have never cared enough of our homeland. We have always treated it so badly believing nothing of danger can ever take place. In retaliation, however the very place we call our ‘home’ has been very patient with us just like parents are with their children. Human race seems to have forgotten that every action has a reaction and that reaction is lingering upon us for quite a long time now. Climate change is a very big concern. It is sad it is not being given the highest priority by the political leaders. It looks like the issue still lacks a lot of political will. There are important questions that puzzle a lot of people (especially those who care about climate change): Are we really doomed? Is it too late to reverse the ecological collapse? Are we seriously running out of time? These questions are quite daunting. Yet we must address them so that we have a clearly laid out plan to do our best.

It is obvious that earth’s atmosphere is majorly comprised of nitrogen and oxygen. There is carbon-dioxide too but its percentage is very low: 0.04%. Unfortunately, the percentage is rising and the more carbon-dioxide is in earth’s atmosphere the hotter the earth gets because Co2 traps sunlight that comes in the atmosphere. According to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) global carbon-dioxide emissions flattened at 33 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2019 after a consecutive increase for two years. This may sound like positive news but the number is still very alarming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in 2018 revealed that if we want to limit warming to an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century we will have to limit the carbon emissions by 45% by the year 2030 and further cutting down carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. It looks like we have 10 years left to prevent climate crisis to a greater extent and 30 years to complete the job altogether. But to scientists the time frame seems a little misleading to general public.

“The world will not end if we pass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels,” said Katharine Mach, a climate scientist at the University of Miami. But such deadlines give forth an important message: every year we delay addressing climate change is an invitation to an ecological catastrophe. An ecologist at Georgetown University, Colin Carlson believes there is no point in debating which year climate change is going to show up because it is already here. His research has shown that diseases caused by mosquitoes like dengue and malaria prevail more in warmer climate. Every year hundreds or thousands of people die. I know my opinion is going to be completely anecdotal but I am seeing already how mosquitoes prevail in my neighborhood even in the month of December!! They don’t seem to go away for the whole year. Many regions in North America, South America, Africa and Asia are also becoming very hot to grow crops. Sea levels are already rising which is making it difficult to live in the coastal areas. Coral reefs are getting wiped out. High water temperature is making it very hard for them to survive. As a result, half of the corals have been lost in the Great Barrier Reef in the last two decades. Plants and animals will have a hard time to evolve because of the destruction we are causing to Mother Nature. Just imagine how hot it would be in areas near the equator!! We are already seeing forest fires all over the world. In the last months of 2019, Australia witnessed worst-ever forest fires killing or severely damaging crores of animals. Thousands of people had to leave their homes and the country suffered millions of dollars of property damage.

Sir David Attenborough who is a natural historian and broadcaster believes things are getting out of our hands and they are only going to get worse if we still stay ignorant. In one of the interviews with Channel 4 he said his biggest fear regarding the implications of climate change is that there is going to be mass civil unrest and mass migration. When asked if it is actually too late to reverse climate change he said, “It’s too late to reverse it. Not in my lifetime, but in the next lifetime. I don’t think you can reverse it. I think the best that we can hope is that we will slow it down, and slow it down considerably.”

Climate change is a very serious problem. I personally disagree that we can delay it any further. The best time to do something about it is NOW. Nothing ever gets done until we prioritize it and it seems like leaders do not look at climate crisis as a priority. With innovations made possible with science and technology we humans have drastically changed the course of our lives. What’s needed right now is to use brilliant minds to innovate methods that can help tackle the problem of climate change. The situation should not be taken lightly anymore. It is true things are not so good no matter what is being projected. But we must not lose hope. We should stay positive that a lot can happen if we take the right steps at the right time. And that time is not tomorrow, day after tomorrow or 4 months later. The right time is NOW.

Diet and your Mental health

Picture credits: FitNtip.com

It is not rocket science to know that diet plays a crucial role in our mental health and overall well-being. In schools we came across a very common word quite frequently and that word is ‘balanced diet’. We were taught that foods rich in proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals should be taken and such diet is a balanced diet. Sadly, we seem to have forgotten the lesson now. We are jeopardizing our mental and physical health by eating junk food filled with ‘empty calories’.

Mental illnesses have become very prevalent. In the United States, nearly one in five adults is suffering from mental illness. The data is quite shocking. There are mood disorders, anxiety disorders, hypertension, etc. There is no single factor causing mental illnesses. There are genes, environment and chemicals in the brain contributing to mental health issues. However, through studies it is now being established that there is a relation between poor diet and poor mental health and the vice versa. When we eat good food it is often associated with feelings of well-being. A study was conducted by researchers on this line of thought and it was found that consumption of fruits and vegetables in good amount may be associated with higher levels of mental well-being in both the sexes. A systematic review of 12 epidemiological studies also found that eating good and healthy food items facilitates good mental well-being.

Good diet fighting depression

A clinical trial led by Dr Felice Jacka who is a director of Food and Mood centre at Deakin University, Australia became the first randomized control trial (RCT) that answers a very important question regarding good diet and good mental health. People who suffer from clinical depression get the best results when their treatment is a combination of medications and therapy. As it turns out, a good diet can also play a critical role in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

a. The Experiment

For the experiment, a total of 67 men and women participated. The participants were suffering from depression and were taking medications and/or going for therapy sessions regularly. The participants in the study were all consuming lower amount of fruits and vegetables, lower dietary fibres, too much sugar, too much unhealthy snacks and processed food. In other words, their diet was poor. Participants in the study were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a controlled group. Participants belonging to the intervention group were put on a Mediterranean diet (diet typically rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, beans and olive oil) and met with their dietitian regularly. While people belonging to the controlled group were not put on Mediterranean diet but were required to attend social support groups. After 3 months, depression symptoms of the participants were recorded.

(Note: The scale used was MADRS scale (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale). The scale is from 0-60 in which a high score means an individual is very depressed as compared to a lower score. An average score of the participants came out to be 25).

The result?

People who took Mediterranean diet for 3 months improved their score on depression scale by an average of 11 points. While people who were on their usual diet improved by an average of 4 points.

b. The Diet

What should you Eat: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat/unsweetened dairy, raw unsalted nuts, legumes, eggs, fish, chicken, olive oil and lean red meat.

What should you avoid: too much sugary items, processed foods, breads, refined cereals, fast and fried food.

It will not be right to comment that a good diet is one thing that will help people fight depression. A causal relationship cannot be established. However, they are definitely co-related. A good diet helps and if followed properly benefits will be visible. Mental health problems have become quite common now and it is a good thing that scientists are diving deeper to find different ways through which such problems can be tackled. ‘We are what we eat’ is not after all a bad advice.

The 4 virtues of Stoic philosophy

Picture credits: Reddit

The man who has virtue is in need of nothing whatever for the purpose of living well.”- Cicero

Virtue is about goodness or morality. The stoics believed ‘the highest good’ in life is becoming a man/woman of virtue. They said any situation in life- be it a good one or a bad one can be dealt with virtues. So, it is quite important that we prioritize them. According to the stoics, there are 4 virtues that should govern our lives. These are:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Justice
  3. Temperance
  4. Courage


“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” – Epictetus

It is easy to become knowledgeable especially during times like these when information is infinite. At the same time, attaining wisdom and becoming wise is difficult. Yet very important to be one. That is why the stoics kept ‘wisdom’ as one of the four virtues. As Epictetus said people are not disturbed by the ‘things’ that happen to them but by how they perceive those things that have caused them harm. Things are objective in this world. It is our added subjectivity that creates a problem. A wise person knows the difference. Wisdom might not get a lot of attention but the stoic philosophers knew its importance and did everything possible to become wiser every day. It doesn’t matter what we know. What matters is how we are applying into action what we already know. This is wisdom.


“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honoured. Dying…or busy with other assignments.” – Marcus Aurelius

Often times we all feel this world is not just. I used to believe the same and as I am getting older I am realizing this world is totally unjust where unfair things happen all the time. It was very hard to believe it but that’s the way this world works. In times like these it is more important than ever to put ‘justice’ at the top. Marcus Aurelius kept justice above other three virtues (wisdom, courage, temperance). It makes sense because there is no point of being a person who is wise, courageous and moderate in actions if he/she is not just and doesn’t treat people by fair means. We should all understand that we are all in this together and by treating everyone with justice we can keep the unity intact. Life is going to give many opportunities to harm and rebuke others. But we must never forget a beautiful line spoken by Rufus, to honor equality, to want to do good, and for a person, being human, to not want to harm human beings—this is the most honorable lesson and it makes just people out of those who learn it.”


“Sometimes even to live, is an act of courage.”– Seneca

Life is meaningless if we are not brave and courageous. A courageous person can manage to do things that a talented person cannot who is devoid of bravery. Being scared is common. It is completely natural. Actually a little amount of fear is very helpful and motivates us to be more cognizant. But when it gets out of our control and we start succumbing to it then it becomes a big problem. No wars could have been won without courage. No big decisions can be taken without courage. Even life cannot be lived without courage. There are going to be moments in life when we will have to take a decision- to persist or to run away. The choice we make is going to shape our lives. We must always have courage to live our lives on our own terms. We must always have courage to hold on to our principles and values. We must always have courage to chase our dreams and goals. Courage is a beautiful tool. Its possession makes us life a lot more interesting and lively.


“As yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?”– Marcus Aurelius

Temperance is about knowing what is essential or in the words of Marcus Aurelius ‘necessary’. The modern times we are living in is run by a principle that “more is good”. So, we are chasing ‘more’ and then some ‘more’ and a bit ‘more’. This leaves us all discontent and dissatisfied. We are not happy and one of the biggest reasons is our relationship with abundant stuff. We have way more than we need to live  a decent life. Seneca said something similar, “You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, what is enough.” Abundance of material things is not the only thing that is adding suffering to our lives. Abundance of anything is not good- abundant emotions, abundant thoughts, abundant goals and ambitions, etc. Life is required to be lived in moderation. That’s the best shot to living a content and happy life.

The worst virus you could possibly get infected with

Picture credits: thespiritscience.net

Let me start by asking a very simple question: “What do you think is a virus?”

Let me help you a bit. A virus is an ‘infective’ agent that is ‘too small’ to be seen by light microscopy and multiplies only within living cells of a host.

Coronavirus disease is caused by one of the types of coronaviruses. So, yes it is a virus. What I have been seeing lately is that people are not only getting infected with corona-virus but also a virus of illogical beliefs and unscientific ideas. It is infectious, no doubt. It passes from one person to another and then throughout communities. It is so small that you cannot look at a person and say he/she is suffering from this virus. Their qualifications and living standards might trick you into believing that they are sane people when actually they are very dumb.

I see many people not wearing masks. I see people not following social distancing. And I also know many people who are travelling as if there never was any COVID-19 pandemic. Do I feel angry at them? Of course I do. I get very frustrated. But more than frustration I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry because they are suffering from such a deadly virus of stupid beliefs and they do not even know about it. What’s even more saddening is that so many of them are qualified, smart and good people. But the pandemic has brought about their true colors. The stoics were wise enough to know how such a kind of virus is so deadly and lethal. Marcus Aurelius, a famous stoic around 2,000 years ago said very aptly during the Antonine Plague, “An infected mind is a far more dangerous pestilence than any plague. One only threatens your life; the other destroys your character.” I do not mean to sound judgemental and rude but I am getting a very fine idea about people’s characters these days.

Research has shown that wearing masks actually reduces the spread of virus to a greater extent. Yet people do not do it. Why is it that people do not want to wear masks? Why are they so hesitant and arrogant enough to put their and other people’s lives in danger by not wearing masks? As it turns out there are many reasons to it.

People do not like it whenever they are told what to do. It is simply a human psychology. So, when they are asked to wear face masks they start believing their freedom has been snatched away from them and so they act out and do the opposite. “People value their freedoms. They may become distressed or indignant or morally outraged when people are trying to encroach on their freedoms.” said Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist at University British Columbia and an author of a book “The Psychology of Pandemics”.

Everyone is exposed to different kind of information and the kind of information they have always been exposed to determine their ability to perceive anything. In this case, everyone’s risk perception towards COVID-19 varies a lot. And it decides if people are going to wear masks or not. Also, a direct experience with the virus will also shape your ability to wear a mask. People who had/have contracted the virus and suffered because of it will be much more careful than the ones who didn’t get an infection.

It is also common among people to believe that wearing masks make them look weak in front of others. So to compensate for that people do not wear masks at all. They do not want others to think of them as ‘scared beings’.

It is not easy to change human psychology especially during these uncertain and difficult times. A belief about anything cannot be changed in a moment. So, if people are infected with close-mindedness, they are impervious to reason and scientific evidences then the job becomes really hard.

We still need to try. As I said, the job is not easy but we have to try. We should and we must. Telling people blatantly to wear masks might not be the best way to make them wear one. Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and professor at Harvard wrote an article on males who wouldn’t wear masks with a marked lack of shaming. After that many men got in touch with her and opened their minds to listen to her views. We can try changing people’s beliefs about things if we show some empathy towards them. Also, there is a need to make things less confusing- leaders, famous and successful people should set up good examples. If these people are not going to wear masks themselves and follow social distancing then it will definitely get very confusing for others to figure out what should be done.

Why you must care about Climate Change?

Picture credits: fresnoalliane.com

If I ask you about COVID-19, I am 100% confident you’re going to say it is AWFUL. There is no way you could possibly deny that you have never experienced something like this before in your life. Because let’s face the truth: nobody has. The way we have been messing up with nature and the environment this pandemic was completely inevitable as Bill Gates talked about it in his famous Ted Talk. We were not ready for this pandemic and now we are paying the price. It is very unfortunate to say that the cost has come in forms of millions of death, economic hardships and constant apprehension to leave our homes.

Nobody talks about climate change (excluding Bill Gates and many others I do not know much about, yet the percentage is very low) because it is not interesting and profitable. Had it been profitable every country and leader would have jumped and grasped the opportunity. I do not mean to sound pessimistic because a lot of work is going on to tackle the situation. Nevertheless, the pace is very slow. We need to accelerate the process.

No matter what people say let me get one thing straight. Climate change is real. It not a hoax. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, there has been a rise in the percentage of Americans believing that climate change is definitely a threat to the well-being of Americans and should come as a top priority. In 2009, the percentage of people believing that climate change is a big concern was 44% and the number jumped to 60% in 2020. However, this rise has been majorly among the Democrats. This simple statistics is clearly showing that people are now thinking of climate change and they want it to be on a priority list.

We all must care about the ecological collapse that is happening. It is not going to get resolved on its own. Sadly it is getting worse and it is only going to get a lot worse. And the cost will be a huge burden on countries. It becomes difficult for people to understand just how serious the situation is and so they don’t give it a thought. Probably if people knew how climate change is going to affect them directly they might stand a chance to grasp the insidious nature of ecological disruption. Let me put some very good reasons.

1. Comfortable home. More cost.

Everybody loves a comfortable home but we don’t realise that an increase in global temperature is making summers warmer and winters colder. Air conditioners have become very common. It is very difficult to survive each hour in hot summers without air conditioners. Heaters have also become common in cold winters. Eventually they all add up in increasing our electricity bills. The more their usage the longer the bills to pay. In the US (people living in North-eastern areas) it has already been seen that customers’ utility bills increased by 20% in 2014 as compared to 2013. If you still don’t believe me, just pay attention to your electricity bills and do the comparison.

2. Food security

Climate change is also increasing the problem of food security as it is affecting the production of food. Morning coffee fix which majority of us need everyday just might not be available soon because climate change is reducing its production. Altered growing conditions are also affecting the production of wine in wine producing areas. When production is low it becomes natural that the cost is going to sky rocket.

3. We need clean air to breathe

Pollution has now become a very big problem. This has a direct impact on people’s health and causes asthma, heart and lung diseases. So many vehicles running on roads are increasing the levels of carbon emissions into the environment thereby causing an increase in global temperature. According to the data by NASA, since 1884 there has been an average increase of 0.99 degrees Celsius in the global temperature. Smog is another reminder that we no more have clean air to breathe which is very unfortunate. Can you imagine that we no longer have clean air to breathe let alone food and water?

4. No other choice

In the simplest possible words I will say the most important reason to start caring about our earth is that we no longer have a choice. We are delaying its urgency and it is only going to cause bigger troubles in the coming years. If we take the first step today we can still make it. We can still save our habitat. The real question is, “Are we willing to do it?”