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The Yellow Face, It Burns Us

Draw a picture of the sun. If you’re like us, you probably have to fight the urge to add a smiley face to it. That’s a cognitive leftover from our childhood: young children almost always add smiley faces to sun drawings, and believe that the sun benignly follows them around. It turns out that this same tendency, to assign agency to patterns and objects beyond our control, also drives conspiracy theorizing among adults. Our eagerness to find patterns may also help to explain why political myths and conspiracy theories persist or grow in the face of official denial — in that these denials can become evidence of an ever-widening conspiracy. [%comments]