What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

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What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by cage » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:58 am

Discuss..

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog ... y-theories
Why are people drawn to conspiracy theories? What are they seeking when they first go down the rabbit hole? Are there specific personality types that are more prone to conspiracy theories than others?

There's been a lot of recent work in psychology attempting to figure out why some people are particularly drawn to conspiracy theories. For example, research has found that people who believe in conspiracy theories tend to have a greater need for cognitive closure1 (the desire to find an explanation when explanations are lacking) and to be unique.2 They're more likely to have a cognitive bias called hypersensitive agency detection3 or teleologic thinking4 (whereby events are overattributed to hidden forces, purposes, and motives). Some research has also found that conspiracy beliefs are associated with lower levels of education3 and analytic thinking.5
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Falafel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:05 pm

Not much to add but might be the same people that are religious fanatics.... would guess there is a correlation
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by excolonial » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:26 pm

I think that conclusion is flawed, the statement that "Some research has also found that conspiracy beliefs are associated with lower levels of education3 and analytic thinking" Is ridiculous at first glance. Whilst it may be true, the exact opposite is also true. those that believe everything they are told at face are equally lacking in education and analytical thinking.

I suspect that you will find no correlation with religious belief, as the above applies there too. There are those that believe unblinkingly, and then there are those that question, but still believe.

I think it is fair to say that belief/disbelief of officialdom is not a linear thing and varies widely depending on the issue at hand.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Iceberg » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:31 pm

My daughter in Canada worked with a guy that believed in Chemtrails.

Like my daughter, he is an architect, so not stupid or of low intelligence, but believes all this conspiracy stuff. When they spent lunchtime on the grass outside he would go off on a rant when a jetliner passed overhead. It got so bad in the office that they had to fire him.

I also have very intelligent acquaintances that believe in this stuff - moon landing never happened etc. etc. But they are generally paranoid about almost everything- their health, the economy etc. etc. Everything is bad for you and the world economy is about to collapse. Doomsday prepper type of stuff.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Whirly » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:40 pm

Iceberg wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:31 pm
My daughter in Canada worked with a guy that believed in Chemtrails.

Like my daughter, he is an architect, so not stupid or of low intelligence, but believes all this conspiracy stuff. When they spent lunchtime on the grass outside he would go off on a rant when a jetliner passed overhead. It got so bad in the office that they had to fire him.

I also have very intelligent acquaintances that believe in this stuff - moon landing never happened etc. etc. But they are generally paranoid about almost everything- their health, the economy etc. etc. Everything is bad for you and the world economy is about to collapse. Doomsday prepper type of stuff.
Nutcase comes to mind! :o

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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Antman » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Before 2012, if you had voiced suspicions that the Australian government had been anything but open and honourable in dealing with East Timor – its newly independent but impoverished neighbour – you would likely have been dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. But it was then revealed Australian Secret Intelligence Service agents had bugged East Timor’s cabinet office during treaty negotiations over oil and gas fields.

Yesterday’s conspiracy theories often become today’s incontrovertible facts. In the mid-1990s, journalist Gary Webb’s claims that CIA officials conspired with drug dealers bringing crack cocaine into the United States were dismissed by many as a prime example of a conspiracy theory. But the claims were true.

It’s reasonable to suppose many of the views that are now dismissed or mocked as conspiracy theories will one day be recognised as having been true all along. Indeed, the net effect of terms such as “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracism” is to silence people who are the victims of conspiracy, or who (rightly or wrongly) suspect conspiracies may be occurring. These terms serve to herd respectable opinion in ways that suit the interests of the powerful.

Ever since the philosopher Sir Karl Popper popularised the expression in the 1950s, conspiracy theories have had a bad reputation. To characterise a belief as a conspiracy theory is to imply it’s false. More than that, it implies people who accept that belief, or want to investigate whether it’s true, are irrational.

On the face of it, this is hard to understand. After all, people do conspire. That is, they engage in secretive or deceptive behaviour that is illegal or morally dubious.

Conspiracy is a common form of human behaviour across all cultures throughout recorded time, and it has always been particularly widespread in politics.

Virtually all of us conspire some of the time, and some people (such as spies) conspire virtually all of the time. Given people conspire, there can’t be anything wrong with believing they conspire. Hence there can’t be anything wrong with believing conspiracy theories or being a conspiracy theorist.

Thinking of conspiracy theories as paradigmatically false and irrational is like thinking of phrenology as a paradigm of scientific theory. Conspiracy theories, like scientific theories, and virtually any other category of theory, are sometimes true, sometimes false, sometimes held on rational grounds, sometimes not.

It’s a striking feature of much of the literature on conspiracy theories, like much of the literature on terrorism, that authors assume they are referring to the same phenomenon, while a glance at their definitions (when they bother to offer them) reveals they are not.

But seeking a fixed definition of the term “conspiracy theory” may be an idle pursuit, since the real problem with the term is that, although it lacks a fixed meaning, it does serve a fixed function.

It’s a function similar to that served by the term “heresy” in medieval Europe. In both cases these are terms of propaganda, used to stigmatise and marginalise people who have beliefs that conflict with officially sanctioned or orthodox beliefs of the time and place in question.

If, as I believe, the treatment of those labelled as “conspiracy theorists” in our culture is analogous to the treatment of those labelled as “heretics” in medieval Europe, then the role of psychologists and social scientists in this treatment is analogous to that of the Inquisition.

Outside the psychology and social science literature some authors will sometimes offer some, usually heavily qualified, defence of conspiracy theories (in some sense of the term). But among psychologists and social scientists the assumption that they are false, the product of an irrational (or nonrational) process, and positively harmful is virtually universal.

Whenever we use the terms “conspiracy theory”, “conspiracism” or “conspiracist ideation”, we’re implying, even if we don’t mean to, there is something wrong with believing, wanting to investigate, or giving any credence at all to the possibility people are engaged in secretive or deceptive behaviour.

One bad effect of these terms is they contribute to a political environment in which it’s easier for conspiracy to thrive at the expense of openness. Another bad effect is their use is an injustice to the people who are characterised as conspiracy theorists.

Following the philosopher Miranda Fricker, we may call this a form of “testimonial injustice”. When someone asserts that a conspiracy has taken place (especially when it is a conspiracy by powerful people or institutions) that person’s word is automatically given less credence than it should because of an irrational prejudice associated with the pejorative connotations of these terms.

When professional psychologists imply these terms it can constitute a form of gaslighting; that is, a manipulation of people into doubting their own sanity.

I hope and believe that in the future these terms will be widely recognised for what they are: the products of an irrational and authoritarian outlook. Prior to Popper, we got along perfectly well without these terms. I’m sure we can learn to do so again.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by excolonial » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:43 pm

The problem is that there is so much pseudo science being bandied around by all and sundry, that the gullible need not look far for validation.

Bill Nye the science guy gives me an itchy trigger finger.

Sadly there is so much evidence of a complete disregard for human life, that much of this stuff seems plausible. Take the time to read the declassified US atomic testing. It is frankly shocking what they knowingly did to their own people, and the logical next step is, if they were willing to do this, then where will they draw the line?
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Antman » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:50 pm

One of the great "conspiracy theories" is that of UFO's

This was released yesterday. Hmm!!

UFO videos are footage of real 'unidentified' objects, US Navy acknowledges

For the first time, the U.S. Navy has acknowledged that the three UFO videos that were released by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge and published by The New York Times are of real "unidentified" objects.

“The Navy considers the phenomena contained/depicted in those three videos as unidentified," Navy spokesman Joseph Gradisher told The Black Vault, a website dedicated to declassified government documents.


Gradisher added that “the ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ terminology is used because it provides the basic descriptor for the sightings/observations of unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects that have been observed entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges.”

FORMER US DEFENSE OFFICIAL: WE KNOW UFOS ARE REAL - HERE'S WHY THAT'S CONCERNING

The statement has been corroborated with other media outlets. Fox News has reached out to the Navy for additional comment for this story.

The videos in question, known as "FLIR1,” “Gimbal” and “GoFast,” were originally released to the New York Times and to The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA). In December 2017, Fox News reported that the Pentagon had secretly set up a program to investigate UFOs at the request of former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

In June 2019, Reid, now retired, expressed his desire for lawmakers to hold public hearings into what the military knows. "They would be surprised how the American public would accept it," he said during a wide-ranging interview with a Nevada radio station. "People from their individual states would accept it."

The first video of the unidentified object was taken on Nov. 14, 2004, and shot by the F-18's gun camera. The second video was taken on Jan. 21, 2015, and shows another aerial vehicle with pilots commenting on how strange it is. The third video was also taken on Jan. 21, 2015, but it is unclear whether the third video was of the same object or a different one.

John Greenewald, Jr., who publishes The Black Vault, told Motherboard he was surprised at the language the Navy used in its official statement.

“I very much expected that when the U.S. military addressed the videos, they would coincide with language we see on official documents that have now been released, and they would label them as ‘drones’ or ‘balloons,’” Greenwald told the news outlet. “However, they did not. They went on the record stating the ‘phenomena’ depicted in those videos, is ‘unidentified.’ That really made me surprised, intrigued, excited and motivated to push harder for the truth.”

PENTAGON FINALLY ADMITS IT INVESTIGATES UFOS

Luis Elizondo, the former head of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), has previously said that people should pay attention to the comments the government is making about UFOs.

"What the pilots encountered that day was able to perform in ways that defied all logic and our current understanding of aerodynamics," Elizondo wrote in a Fox News op-ed of the 2004 encounter by U.S. Navy pilots who witnessed the object off the coast of San Diego. "Furthermore, beyond what the pilots saw with their own trained eye, the technological feat they encountered was further verified by the impressive Aegis SPY-1 radar, America’s premier radar system at the time, and even gun camera footage and sonar systems from submarines accompanying the carrier.

Earlier this year, the Navy issued new classified guidelines on how to report such instances “in response to unknown, advanced aircraft flying into or near Navy strike groups or other sensitive military facilities and formations.”

The Defense Department also briefed Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., in June, along with two other senators, as part of what appeared to be heightened efforts to inform politicians about naval encounters with unidentified aircraft.

Warner's spokesperson indicated that the senator sought to probe safety concerns surrounding "unexplained interference" naval pilots faced, according to Politico. The outlet reported more briefings were being requested as news surfaced that the Navy revised its procedures for personnel reporting on unusual aircraft sightings.

President Trump said he has been briefed on Navy pilots' reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, but remained skeptical of the existence of UFOs. "I want them to think whatever they think," Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopolous earlier this year, referring to the Navy pilots. "I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly."
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by excolonial » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:01 pm

A UFO is a simple term that has been twisted to mean Alien craft, which was clearly not its intended usage. It means exactly what it says - nothing more.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Whirly » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:09 pm

I was called a "conspiracy theorist" (on AvCom) when I called into question the operations of a certain well known company here in SA. I was told they were above board as one of the biggest accounting firms in SA was doing their audits. Well, not even two weeks later and one of these big auditing companies took a fall and lost a huge amount of clients because of their actions.

I am still smiling! :lol:

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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Fransw » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:11 pm

cage wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:58 am
Discuss..

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog ... y-theories
Why are people drawn to conspiracy theories? What are they seeking when they first go down the rabbit hole? Are there specific personality types that are more prone to conspiracy theories than others?

There's been a lot of recent work in psychology attempting to figure out why some people are particularly drawn to conspiracy theories. For example, research has found that people who believe in conspiracy theories tend to have a greater need for cognitive closure1 (the desire to find an explanation when explanations are lacking) and to be unique.2 They're more likely to have a cognitive bias called hypersensitive agency detection3 or teleologic thinking4 (whereby events are overattributed to hidden forces, purposes, and motives). Some research has also found that conspiracy beliefs are associated with lower levels of education3 and analytic thinking.5
Now you are opening a can of worms! Which side is the conspiracy believers, the "moon landing happened" guys or the "moon landing never happened" people?? :? :lol:
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by cage » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:20 pm

excolonial wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:01 pm
A UFO is a simple term that has been twisted to mean Alien craft, which was clearly not its intended usage. It means exactly what it says - nothing more.
Indeed, which is why the military calls it unexplained aerial phenomena.
Not knowing what something is doesn't make it alien, it could well be new tech from a foreign government, or something requiring secrecy for national security.
A secret also has it's intent twisted to indicate a conspiracy. There are many things which are secret, for good reason.

My takeaway from the article is that there is no specific cause, which makes sense as you can't generalise the complexity of a persons mind and character down to an average - we are just too diverse, as much as there is some commonality.

People don't always behave, so naturally some conspiracies have been shown to be true but they are the exception not the norm, something which is subsequently used to validate every other theory.

Personally, I think that many people are just looking to belong, to find meaning in a crazy world. Perhaps part has to do with life not turning out as expected and looking outward for reasons why, or just wanting to turn a mundane existence into something more exciting.

Who knows.
The internet and TV have definitely contributed to nurturing these traits.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by TC » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:21 pm

Was there not also a ‘conspiracy theory’ regarding the Samora Machel crash and the Helderberg? Both theories turned to be... well... true?
My wife keeps saying I don't listen to her or something like that !?
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by Iceberg » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:34 pm

TC wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:21 pm
Was there not also a ‘conspiracy theory’ regarding the Samora Machel crash and the Helderberg? Both theories turned to be... well... true?
No concrete proof - so still just theories when I last heard. It is just that dishing up the theories from time to time suits the current government rhetoric.
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Re: What makes people believe in conspiracy theories

Unread post by excolonial » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:23 pm

On the subject of UFO's I was sitting in a window seat flying into London, late afternoon, early evening. it was quite a clear day above the clouds, and I could see a few aircraft in the pattern off our wingtip. We descended into the inevitable English clouds, and continued our approach. The next thing I see is a landing light growing rapidly brighter in my window through the thinning clouds. I nearly leapt out of my seat. Luckily I did not make any unseemly squealing noises.

We had turned in the gloom until the afternoon sun was off our wingtip, and as we started to emerge from the clouds the sun shone brighter and brighter through the thinning cloud layer. A very powerful optical illusion with a bit of confirmation bias = death by collision.

I did not feel like a fool at all.
The older I get, the more I am convinced that "A Confederacy of Dunces" is non fiction.

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