Conspiracist or reformist: Which one are you when disaster strikes?

The divide goes back millennia in the quest to find meaning from catastrophic events.

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Every so often, something so awful and senseless happens that it's hard to fully absorb it. An apartment building collapses as residents sleep within. A movie star's prop gun fires a real bullet on a film set, killing a young mother. A concert crowd morphs into a melee that leaves people dead and injured. After each such catastrophe, there looms a question: What's the real story of what happened here?

Amid a stream of facts and rumours via breaking news alerts, the loudest answers often come from two camps: Let's call them the conspiracists and the reformists.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2021, with the headline Conspiracist or reformist: Which one are you when disaster strikes?. Subscribe