Conservation relies on cooperation among different interest groups and appropriate use of evidence to make decisions that benefit people and biodiversity. However, misplaced conservation occurs when cooperation and evidence are impeded by polarization and misinformation. This impedance influences actions that directly harm biodiversity, alienate partners and disrupt partnerships, waste resources, misinform the public, and (or) delegitimize evidence. As a result of these actions, misplaced conservation outcomes emerge, making it more difficult to have positive outcomes for biodiversity. Here we describe cases where a failed appreciation for cooperation, evidence, or both have eroded efforts to conserve biodiversity. Generally, these case studies illustrate that averting misplaced conservation requires greater adherence to processes that elevate the role of evidence in decision-making and that place collective, long-term benefits for biodiversity over the short-term gains of individuals or groups. Efforts to integrate human dimensions, cooperation, and evidence into conservation will increase the efficacy and success of efforts to conserve global biodiversity while benefiting humanity.