What is it called when people try to find in their own minds, rather than by studying and research, the answer to questions they do not know the answer to? This tendency often fuels belief in conspiracy theories, and as some people believe, is what drives the belief in a higher power. I am primarily looking for the general term, but I would also like to know any synonymous or related technical terms (in psychology or philosophy).

  • I'll do you one better: both apophenia as well as many other answers and English phrases is available here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/134267/… (which we can use to point this question to).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 11:17
  • The tendency of humans to try to find in their own minds the answers to questions they do not know the answer to is called thinking.  But I don’t know what this question is really about. Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 2:37

4 Answers 4



American Heritage Dictionary

examination of one's own thoughts and feelings
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1.examining carefully or thoroughly: "a searching inspection."

Also: introspective

Contemplation of one's own thoughts, feelings, and sensations; self-examination.
American Heritage Dictionary

Both are common vernacular as well as philosophical topics. Introspection is definitely a philosophical topic, and self-searching gives some results of self-discovery.


One useful idea is that of being an Armchair Something-or-Other. For example, if someone thinks they can determine facts about biology by just thinking about it themselves, without consulting research or data, they are an "armchair biologist".

  • This is the correct answer, but could you please add more synonyms and related words or phrases if there are any (for example a formal or scientific one), and also references if possible? Thank you.
    – Mo Sanei
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 15:56

Solipsism is "a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the own existent thing." Merriam- Webster. A solipsist is someone who believes in this or thought by others to believe in and act on the theory. It's frequently used as a pejorative.


Could you be describing Denialism?

For instance a pithy example -

In the U.K., voters choosing Brexit/Remain refusing to examine facts concerning the relationship of the U.K. and European Union, but rather rely on common misconceptions to make up their own mind.

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