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Old 25th September 2018, 06:27 PM   #1
William Parcher
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Who believes in conspiracies? Research offers theory

Who believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory

Originally Posted by Phys Org
The Apollo moon landing was staged. The CIA killed JFK. 9/11 was a plot by the U.S. government to justify a war in the Middle East. President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen. The massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged as a pretense for increased gun control. The "deep state" is trying to destroy Donald Trump's presidency.

Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them.

Given that any particular conspiracy theory is unlikely to be the subject of mainstream consensus, what draws people to them?

New research by Josh Hart, associate professor of psychology at Union College New York, suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. The research was recently published in the Journal of Individual Differences.

"These people tend to be more suspicious, untrusting, eccentric, needing to feel special, with a tendency to regard the world as an inherently dangerous place," Hart said. "They are also more likely to detect meaningful patterns where they might not exist. People who are reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities."

Hart and his student, Molly Graether '17, surveyed more than 1,200 American adults. Participants were asked a series of questions related to their personality traits, partisan bent and demographic background. They were also asked whether they agreed with generic conspiratorial statements, such as: "The power held by heads of state is second to that of small unknown groups who really control world politics," and "Groups of scientists manipulate, fabricate or suppress evidence in order to deceive the public."...

https://phys.org/news/2018-09-believ...es-theory.html
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:32 AM   #2
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Quote:
Groups of scientists manipulate, fabricate or suppress evidence in order to deceive the public
Presumably those same scientists are producing reports like this to discredit battle hardened keyboard warriors searching for the twoof?
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Old 26th September 2018, 07:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Who believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory




https://phys.org/news/2018-09-believ...es-theory.html
I believe that too many people Watched programs like the X-Files(one of my favorites) and believed the premise of the show.
But if you look at large conspiracies, the ability to keep the conspiracy hidden falls exponentially.
Remember that two people and a blue dress couldn't keep a secret.
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Old 26th September 2018, 09:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Who believes in conspiracies? Research offers a theory




https://phys.org/news/2018-09-believ...es-theory.html
One concern I had with this was the premise in this question, "Given that any particular conspiracy theory is unlikely to be the subject of mainstream consensus, what draws people to them?"

Actually, a lot of conspiracy theories are pretty much mainstream. I expect surveys will show a broad belief that JFK was assassinated by the CIA. I think international surveys show that the belief the Apollo missions were faked represent a majority. Don't most Americans beliege Obama is or at least probably is Kenyan born?

Secondly, they're repeating well known information about a correlation, but assuming a direction of causality.

I don't think there's evidence for a personality 'type' that leads to believing conspiracy theories. I think they're simply absorbed with culture. The direction of causality is reversed. If you've grown up taught that there's a secret cabal bent on destroying your life, you become cynical and paranoid.
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Old 26th September 2018, 12:24 PM   #5
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I'd wager that number does jump even higher if you define it very vaguely and broadly. I mean if we take it to "Powerful people are doing things behind the scenes for their own benefit" you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't a conspiracy theorist.

If we're going to look at the popular Ur examples of conspiracy theories:

- JFK was not killed by a lone gun men but by multiple assailants involved in a plot hatched at the high government level.
- The Apollo moon landings were faked.
- The United States Government has proof / strong evidence of alien life visiting Earth but is deliberately withholding that information from the public.
- President Bush had a hand in planning the 9/11 Attacks
- President Bush knew the 9/11 attacks were going to happen but intentionally choose not the stop them.
- President Roosevelt had prior warning of Pearl Harbor and intentionally choose not to it.
- President Obama is not a valid US Citizen and/or was not born in the US.
- The United States Government has handed over its sovereignty to a multi-national organization of some kind.
- The is a secret group that is operating independently the governments of the world that is actually in charge.
- The United States Government uses electrical or chemical means to pacify or mentally alter the population.
- The government and/or companies have cures for diseases they are deliberately withholding to make money off of sick people.
- Holocaust denial

I'd accept that a very high number of Americans believe (or profess to believe) at least one of those.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:16 PM   #6
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I strongly believe in Local Conspiracies.

Like the cabal that keeps eating my chocolate.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
JFK was not killed by a lone gun men but by multiple assailants involved in a plot hatched at the high government level.
I often get screwed when I answer affirmatively to the question: "Do you believe the JFK assassination was a conspiracy?"

My answer is yes, because Oswald told his wife, which categorizes the crime as a conspiracy.

This has led to a lot of confusion about my position on the topic.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'd wager that number does jump even higher if you define it very vaguely and broadly. I mean if we take it to "Powerful people are doing things behind the scenes for their own benefit" you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't a conspiracy theorist.
This is the thing.

I happened to notice that they included the belief that Trump was involved with Russian efforts to influence the election as an example of a conspiracy theory. Evidence-wise, not sure if that ranks in the same 'you have to be schizotypal to believe this ****' category with 'the queen is a lizard' stuff.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Actually, a lot of conspiracy theories are pretty much mainstream. I expect surveys will show a broad belief that JFK was assassinated by the CIA.
Your expectation is incorrect. Last survey I saw said that about 13% of those polled thought the CIA was involved. The largest group - about 30% - said Oswald did it. The remainder was split among the mob, the KGB, anti or pro-Castro Cubans, etc., in quantities below 13% each.

This after being exposed to conspiracy theories for 50 years with nary a word published from the other side.

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Old 26th September 2018, 02:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I strongly believe in Local Conspiracies.

Like the cabal that keeps eating my chocolate.
Is that the same cabal that steals socks from my laundry?
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
This is the thing.

I happened to notice that they included the belief that Trump was involved with Russian efforts to influence the election as an example of a conspiracy theory. Evidence-wise, not sure if that ranks in the same 'you have to be schizotypal to believe this ****' category with 'the queen is a lizard' stuff.
I noticed that, too. I thought it was kind of a poorly thought out article overall.

Not all conspiracy theories are equal, and different conspiracy theories appeal to wildly different demographics.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sherman Bay View Post
Is that the same cabal that steals socks from my laundry?
that's what they want you to think.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:21 PM   #13
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I have a homemade scale that rates the likelihood of a conspiracy theory being true from a 10, bat**** insane, to 1, likely true.

I'm sure most conspiracy theorists simply have an 'I believe it' and 'I don't believe it' bin.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
I have a homemade scale that rates the likelihood of a conspiracy theory being true from a 10, bat**** insane, to 1, likely true.

I'm sure most conspiracy theorists simply have an 'I believe it' and 'I don't believe it' bin.
No, I think they're like the rest of us, but the stuff they rate as "likely to be true" happens to be the stuff we rate as batcrap insane, as well as having a
"totally believe in it" bin.
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Old 26th September 2018, 05:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
I have a homemade scale that rates the likelihood of a conspiracy theory being true from a 10, bat**** insane, to 1, likely true.

I'm sure most conspiracy theorists simply have an 'I believe it' and 'I don't believe it' bin.
Yeah but this can be problematic.

I have an... let's say acquaintance that is a good person, not stupid per se, and doesn't lack critical thinking skills but when it comes to conspiracy theories she always, always, believes the "light" version of it.

She doesn't think Bush caused 9/11, but she thinks he deliberately (not as an intelligence failure) let it happen. She doesn't think we faked the Moon landings, but she does think we reshoot the footage (she's convinced film wouldn't survive solar radiation). She believes in that "A Secret Service Agent accidentally shot Kennedy while trying to return fire on Oswald's position" theory that made the rounds a few years back.

It's like she's... hedging her bets or something. It's odd.
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Old 26th September 2018, 11:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Yeah but this can be problematic.

I have an... let's say acquaintance that is a good person, not stupid per se, and doesn't lack critical thinking skills but when it comes to conspiracy theories she always, always, believes the "light" version of it.

She doesn't think Bush caused 9/11, but she thinks he deliberately (not as an intelligence failure) let it happen. She doesn't think we faked the Moon landings, but she does think we reshoot the footage (she's convinced film wouldn't survive solar radiation). She believes in that "A Secret Service Agent accidentally shot Kennedy while trying to return fire on Oswald's position" theory that made the rounds a few years back.

It's like she's... hedging her bets or something. It's odd.
That retreat from radical conspiracism as I like to call it is just amusing. It reveals how desperate they are to hang onto some vestige of the full tinfoil narrative as they keep one foot out the door.

And those LIHOP and complicity theories can complicate things, but I generally try to examine them on their own terms and not as a monolithic CT.
No planers of the holographic type get a big fat 10 on my scale, while those who allege only that the crash sites in Shanksville and the Pentagon were staged get an 8 or 9--"highly/extremely unlikely"
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Old 27th September 2018, 01:17 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
I'm sure most conspiracy theorists simply have an 'I believe it' and 'I don't believe it' bin.
And they've mixed the labels up.

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Old 30th September 2018, 11:34 AM   #18
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I think there are conspiracies.

But they are, IMHO, most often people improperly exerting influence on governments and businesses for their own private benefit. Because the influence is improper (like vote buying or blackmail) the matter is kept quiet. The conspiracy ends up looking mysterious when in fact it's motivation was ordinary greed or lust for power.

Last edited by arayder; 30th September 2018 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 30th September 2018, 12:06 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
"These people tend to be more suspicious, untrusting, eccentric, needing to feel special, with a tendency to regard the world as an inherently dangerous place," Hart said. "They are also more likely to detect meaningful patterns where they might not exist. People who are reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities."
I think the highlighted is especially important. Coupled with distrust of authority, that is.
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Old 30th September 2018, 02:56 PM   #20
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Historiography and the scientific method should be placed up front and center in all high school history and science courses, imo, and it should be drilled into them until they dream of it. Most young people, at least in the U.S., seem to know a couple facts about American history, Lincoln 16th prez, or that H2O is water, some who paid attention in civics can recall the three branches of the govt, but it appears most people don't know how to think, which makes them easy targets for propaganda and conspiracy theories.

Last edited by Venom; 30th September 2018 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 1st October 2018, 01:42 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Historiography and the scientific method should be placed up front and center in all high school history and science courses, imo, and it should be drilled into them until they dream of it. Most young people, at least in the U.S., seem to know a couple facts about American history, Lincoln 16th prez, or that H2O is water, some who paid attention in civics can recall the three branches of the govt, but it appears most people don't know how to think, which makes them easy targets for propaganda and conspiracy theories.
Not necessarily. Remember this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I often get screwed when I answer affirmatively to the question: "Do you believe the JFK assassination was a conspiracy?"

My answer is yes, because Oswald told his wife, which categorizes the crime as a conspiracy.

This has led to a lot of confusion about my position on the topic.
I have that problem with questions too. I might not consider Oswald and his wife conspiracists, but this question from the OP quote:
Quote:
"Groups of scientists manipulate, fabricate or suppress evidence in order to deceive the public."
I'd have to answer yes on that. Typically it's not a 'group' of scientists, but sometimes it is like the ones that are merchants of doubt.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:06 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
This is the thing.

I happened to notice that they included the belief that Trump was involved with Russian efforts to influence the election as an example of a conspiracy theory. Evidence-wise, not sure if that ranks in the same 'you have to be schizotypal to believe this ****' category with 'the queen is a lizard' stuff.
Not only that, there's a lot of evidence building that it was true.

With that question, they would be getting left/right political bias corrupting the data as well.
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