Why do some people continue to express belief in a conspiracy theory when they actually no longer believe in that conspiracy theory?
Yes, as hard as it might sound to some people, their are people out there that do in fact lie about their beliefs in a conspiracy theory, and there are actually several different reason why someone does this, but one of the main reasons why someone does this is fear.
In fact not only is fear a major reason why someone would claim to believe in a conspiracy theory that they no longer believe in, there are actually several different reasons (or excuses) for that fear.
Probably one of the most common reasons why a person says they believe in a conspiracy theory, even when they do not actually believe in it is the question of "what if?" as in "what if I'm wrong?"
The fear of being wrong about something is often times one of the biggest reasons why someone claims to believe in something when in their minds they actually don't (or at least question themselves) because they think it might save them in some ways if they turn out to be wrong and it actually is true...
They don't want to look stupid.
For some people whom believe in a conspiracy theory, but have since stopped believing but continue to claim to believe in a conspiracy theory, they may be continuing to claim they believe in a conspiracy theory due to the fact that they, in a way, would be admitting that they were being stupid, and maybe in their egotistical minds, would look stupid in the process.
Because of this fear, combined with their own ego, it can cause a person to continue saying that they believe in a long after they actually stopped believing in a conspiracy theory, and can cause them to continue to try to prove a conspiracy theory that they no longer believe in is real to other people.
They can also be very sensitive as well and blow up when someone questions their claims, or intelligence, or sanity.
They're afraid losing relationships.
Some people might claim to believe in a conspiracy theory not because genuinely believe in it, but because someone they are close to, or a group of people they are close to, believes in that conspiracy theory.
This relationship could be with a family member they are close to, or their entire family, and they're afraid that if they speak out and say that they do not believe in the conspiracy theory that the family member (or members) believes in, or do not even express any of the same beliefs in said conspiracy theory, they may lose what relationship they have with that family member, or their family.
The relationship lose might not come from a family member either. It could be a fear of a lose of friends.
Lets say a person has a friend, or a group of friends, who believe in a conspiracy theory. Or, maybe they even joined an organization that promotes a certain conspiracy theory, and they made friends with some of the people in that organization. Some people might continue to claim they believe in that conspiracy theory long after they stopped believing in it simply because they don't want to lose their friends.
They're afraid of being harassed and retaliated against.
While some people's fear based reasons for continuing to believe in a conspiracy theory they no longer believe in (or never really did) might be a selfishly based fear, some people's fear might be a legitimate fear, such as the fear of being harassed and/or retaliated against.
This fear is a very legitimate in fact, not only because conspiracy theorists have been known to harass skeptics and debunkers who express doubt in a conspiracy theory, or actually prove a conspiracy theory to be false, but also because it has happened before to other former conspiracy theorists too.
This fear of harassment might not even come from people in a conspiracy theorist organization. It may come from the whole community, especially if the whole, or at least many in the community actually believes in a certain conspiracy theory and you do not. Expressing disbelief in a conspiracy theory in such a community could result in some people trying to run that person out of town.
Because of this fear of harassment and other, perhaps more violent forms of retaliation, this may keep a person claiming to believe in a conspiracy theory long after they no longer do.
They're afraid of being abused.
While most people believe in a conspiracy theory because they want to, some people only say they believe in a conspiracy theory out of the very real and legitimate fear of being assaulted by someone close to them that does.
This fear can be very real and could be the result of a spouse, or a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, or even a parent whom is either intimidating, authoritarian, and/or abusive. Combine this with a belief in conspiracy theories that person might have, and it might make a person whom is on the receiving end of the abuse feel like they have no choice but to say that they believe in a conspiracy theory simply to stay safe.
Sometimes they claim to believe in a conspiracy theory not out of the fear of possibly being abused, but because they have been told by the abusive party that they will be beaten if they defy them, or actually have been beaten for defying them.
Fear of financial lose.
The final fear based reason why some people claim to believe in a conspiracy theory even when they no longer do (or never did) is because they have a real financial incentive to claim to believe in a conspiracy.
First, the person could own a business that has clientele that not only believe in conspiracy theories, but believe in it them so much so that they might not do business with someone whom doesn't agree with them (this could be based off of their own fear that a person could be a shill if they don't agree with them).
Because the owner might not want to lose that person's business, they might claim they also believe in that conspiracy theory, why in reality they really don't.
Now the other type of fear of financial lose might not come from the fear of the lose of clientele, but the fear of losing your job, either by getting fired by a manager or owner who believes in a conspiracy theory and doesn't want anyone working for them that doesn't, or a co-worker whom believes in a conspiracy theory, and retaliates and does anything they can to get a person fired because they don't believe in the conspiracy theory that they believe in.