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Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 09:55 AM

Moon Landing Faked!!!—Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories


www.scientificamerican.com said:

Did NASA fake the moon landing? Is the government hiding Martians in Area 51? Is global warming a hoax? And what about the Boston Marathon bombing…an “inside job” perhaps?  

In the book “The Empire of Conspiracy,” Timothy Melley explains that conspiracy theories have traditionally been regarded by many social scientists as “the implausible visions of a lunatic fringe,” often inspired by what the late historian Richard Hofstadter described as “the paranoid style of American politics.” Influenced by this view, many scholars have come to think of conspiracy theories as paranoid and delusional, and for a long time psychologists have had little to contribute other than to affirm the psychopathological nature of conspiracy thinking, given that conspiricist delusions are commonly associated with (schizotype) paranoia.  

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#2    Left-Field

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:43 AM

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I may read the article later, but the reason I believe in certain conspiracies is because there is enough pertinent information available which indicates the "official" version of certain events is either partially or entirely false.

In fact, the "official" version regarding certain events is no more than a conspiracy theory of their own. The only reason they don't have the "conspiracy theory" label slapped upon them is because it comes from a source people are conditioned to accept as reliable from the moment their born into this world (the government and the mainstream media).

The government and/or law enforcement agencies dole out the "official" version and the mainstream media and news agencies immediately endorse it.

Along with what I mention above it's simply impractical to think we live in a world in which conspiracies don't exist on all levels, whether it be the weakest of terroristic plots or the well planned and deeply researched practices and operations of any government.

Edited by Left-Field, 05 May 2013 - 10:46 AM.


#3    Lilly

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:49 AM

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I like this paragraph:

Quote

An important conclusion that the authors draw from their analysis is that people don't tend to believe in a conspiracy theory because of the specifics, but rather because of higher-order beliefs that support conspiracy-like thinking more generally. A popular example of such higher-order beliefs is a severe “distrust of authority.” The authors go on to suggest that conspiracism is therefore not just about belief in an individual theory, but rather an ideological lens through which we view the world.

Seems to affirm what I've seen.

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#4    Left-Field

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:52 AM

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View PostLilly, on 05 May 2013 - 10:49 AM, said:

I like this paragraph:

An important conclusion that the authors draw from their analysis is that people don't tend to believe in a conspiracy theory because of the specifics, but rather because of higher-order beliefs that support conspiracy-like thinking more generally. A popular example of such higher-order beliefs is a severe “distrust of authority.” The authors go on to suggest that conspiracism is therefore not just about belief in an individual theory, but rather an ideological lens through which we view the world.

Seems to affirm what I've seen.

The very same logic presented in the paragraph you quoted can be applied to those who don't believe in conspiracies.

Instead of stating they possess a "severe distrust of authority" you simply change it to stating they have "a strong preconceived trust in authority and mainstream media/news outlets" and apply that reasoning to the non-conspiracy minded portion of the population.

Edited by Left-Field, 05 May 2013 - 11:00 AM.


#5    flyingswan

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:08 AM

View PostLeft-Field, on 05 May 2013 - 10:52 AM, said:

The very same logic presented in the paragraph you quoted can be applied to those who don't believe in conspiracies.

Instead of stating they possess a "severe distrust of authority" you simply change it to stating they have "a strong preconceived trust in authority and mainstream media/news outlets" and apply that reasoning to the non-conspiracy minded portion of the population.
When you actually get around to reading the piece, you'll find that the dichotomy isn't between trust and distrust in authority, but between distrust in authority and the scientific approach of going by the evidence.

"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true" - Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
In which case it is fortunate that:
"Science is the best defense against believing what we want to" - Ian Stewart (1945- )

#6    lightly

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:46 AM

Not all conspiracy theories are "delusional "  .. because some conspiracy theories are True, when associated with actual Conspiracies?
   When people's trust is shaken..  we can get paranoid,   but one cannot be "delusional"  about the truth?

  We can examine the dynamics of  conspiracy theories , but not the fact that conspiracies do happen.

Why do people believe in ANYTHING  they have no direct evidence for ?  "good"   or   "bad" ?  .. it's because we often do not think for ourselves .
It's easier to engage in "group think"   which can often be  "paranoid and delusional" .



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Edited by lightly, 05 May 2013 - 12:06 PM.

Important:  The above may contain errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and other limitations.

#7    Babe Ruth

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:12 PM

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Could an alternate thread title be "Why people believe lies told by known liars"?

Certainly when a story comes out one tends to believe it.  But as time goes on and new details emerge, is it force of habit that makes one continue to accept it, or something more?

I think it is a very big psychological hurdle to jump over to consider or acknowledge that one's government deceives so readily, and covers up the truth, suppresses the truth, despite evidence contradicting its story in any given case.


#8    ExpandMyMind

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:15 PM

Pessimism.


#9    Ashyne

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:24 PM

Conspiracies arise from a population's distrust of their government. As 90% of all conspiracies come from USA, it tells you a lot about how Americans view their government.


#10    Kowalski

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:34 PM

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View PostBabe Ruth, on 05 May 2013 - 12:12 PM, said:

Could an alternate thread title be "Why people believe lies told by known liars"?

Certainly when a story comes out one tends to believe it.  But as time goes on and new details emerge, is it force of habit that makes one continue to accept it, or something more?

I think it is a very big psychological hurdle to jump over to consider or acknowledge that one's government deceives so readily, and covers up the truth, suppresses the truth, despite evidence contradicting its story in any given case.

Our government has been lying to us for a VERY long time. That's why I don't believe a WORD that comes out of their mouths anymore. I don't have an "authority problem". I have a "I don't believe liars problem".
I'm sorry, but if they lie about one thing and cover it up, how do you know their not lying about anything else?

Edited by Kowalski, 05 May 2013 - 12:35 PM.


#11    Fstop

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:43 PM

View PostLeft-Field, on 05 May 2013 - 10:52 AM, said:

The very same logic presented in the paragraph you quoted can be applied to those who don't believe in conspiracies.

Instead of stating they possess a "severe distrust of authority" you simply change it to stating they have "a strong preconceived trust in authority and mainstream media/news outlets" and apply that reasoning to the non-conspiracy minded portion of the population.

I think that somewhere in between those who instinctively gravitate toward conspiracy theory belief and those who blindly follow whatever the mainstream media spits out are a group of people who look at ANY claim and evaluate it with regards to empiricism and what is actually the most likely explanation.

To me this seems like the most balanced approach.  The main trick here though is deciding on what gets to pass as "evidence".  This is where critical thinking skills really come into play.  It is my opinion that people on EITHER extreme - the blind masses who accept and the woo woos on the other side that embrace and adopt every theory that comes down the pike - are lacking in the ability to think critically and evaluate evidence objectively.

We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. – Anais Nin

#12    Frank Merton

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:31 PM

I gotta say in all honesty that as soon as I hear the word "conspiracy" in the context of some event of political importance, my reality checker goes into overdrive.  I have yet to get into the details of one of these and come out a believer, and such experience makes one wary indeed.  

I'm of the opinion that there is a spectrum of personalities that range from realism to credulity, with excitement and mystery seekers dominating the credulity end.  And, of course, there are some who just love this stuff so much they can be certified.


#13    Babe Ruth

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:34 PM

Frank

Do you consider it accurate to say that since the earliest of human societies some humans have schemed, plotted and planned against other humans?


#14    Frank Merton

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:36 PM

View PostFstop, on 05 May 2013 - 12:43 PM, said:

I think that somewhere in between those who instinctively gravitate toward conspiracy theory belief and those who blindly follow whatever the mainstream media spits out are a group of people who look at ANY claim and evaluate it with regards to empiricism and what is actually the most likely explanation.

Balance is a good thing; the Buddha recommended the middle way (in the context of between asceticism and hedonism).  However, one can be too extreme about always being in the middle.  Arsenic is not something to consume in a balanced fashion, nor is foolishness.I guess the point here is that the claim that a position is balanced is a logical fallacy and should not be made in rational discussion.  Balance is in the eye of the beholder and, besides, one can be unbalanced in one's balance.

View PostBabe Ruth, on 05 May 2013 - 01:34 PM, said:

Frank

Do you consider it accurate to say that since the earliest of human societies some humans have schemed, plotted and planned against other humans?
Actually, no.  I think that a paranoid and unfortunate view of the human race.


#15    jpjoe

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:43 PM

I hate extreme conspiracists. I find them the most untrustworthy type of people...





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