On the psychology of the conspiracy denier

Why is it that otherwise perfectly intelligent, thoughtful and rationally minded people baulk at the suggestion that sociopaths are conspiring to manipulate and deceive them? And why will they defend this ill-founded position with such vehemence? History catalogues the machinations of liars, thieves, bullies and narcissists and their devastating effects. In modern times too, evidence of corruption and extraordinary deceptions abound. We know, without question, that politicians lie and hide their connections and that corporations routinely display utter contempt for moral norms – that corruption surrounds us. We know that revolving doors between the corporate and political spheres, the lobbying system, corrupt regulators, the media and judiciary mean that wrongdoing is practically never brought to any semblance of genuine justice. We know that the press makes noise about these matters occasionally but never pursues them with true vigour.