They are actually mentally traumatized people to the reality of the things happening around them, that their mind becomes like that of someone abused or like a vulnerable child, where they put up a shield to deflect what they can't deal with. "They're true believers, acting on their beliefs." Some people are naturally predisposed to "see the world as a product of conspiracy," he says, whether it's the theory that Elvis Presley faked his death or that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy. Targets of hoaxers have little recourse. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech, even if it's "offensive and controversial," says Lee Rowland, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. The law also "protects your right to speak ill of the dead," she says. What's not legal: threats that put people in fear for their physical safety. Families could sue for defamation, but those cases can be hard to win because people have to prove that someone "knowingly told a falsehood," says Rowland, and conspiracy theorists believe their claims are true.