To grasp why conspiracy theories appeal to Trump, it’s important to understand the man. Mental-health experts have described Trump as a narcissist forever feeding his grandiose sense of self. Facts and evidence aren’t nearly so convincing to Trump as what makes him feel better about himself. Trump was an illegitimate candidate in 2016 who benefited from foreign interference? No, that was Hillary! “His perception, even his definition, of good and bad is what makes him feel good in the moment,” David Reiss, a San Diego–based psychiatrist who has studied and written about Trump’s psyche, told me. “There’s no sense of consequences beyond what’s good for me in the moment, and then that gets projected onto everything. What’s good for me is good for the universe.”

Joseph Vitriol, a College Fellow in Harvard’s psychology department who has studied conspiracy theories, told me that Trump “likely will gravitate toward anything that will make him feel good about himself and believe that he’s respected. That makes him averse to information that’s inconsistent with that perception, and makes him deeply suspicious of the motivations of people who criticize him. It also makes him unable to meaningfully engage with a broad range of information.”

This propensity for self-soothing combines with an anti-intellectualism that seems part of Trump’s makeup. He’s skeptical of elite opinion and not convinced that he has anything still to learn. As my colleague Ron Brownstein wrote last week, Trump and his Republican allies have been “escalating their war on expertise.”