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Offline Paul May

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What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« on: April 08, 2019, 03:42:54 AM »
Conspiracy theories: Here's what drives people to them, no matter how wacky
William Cummings  USA TODAY
Published 6:19 PM EST Jan 15, 2018

Psychologists say belief in conspiracy theories has close ties "with the paranoia spectrum."
RapidEye, Getty Images
Wake up, sheeple.

Right now, there are networks of passionate and committed people across the world working to subvert some of our deepest-held beliefs and upend the established world order.

They're called conspiracy theorists. They walk among us. They could be your friends, neighbors or loved ones. Who knows? You may even be one yourself.

There seems to be a conspiracy being "uncovered" all the time these days, and no matter how outlandish they may be they seem to have no trouble drawing in ardent believers.

Despite the prevalence and pervasiveness of conspiracy theories, the reasons people are drawn to them is a relatively new area of study for psychologists.

Jan-Willem van Prooijen, an associate professor at the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at VU University Amsterdam, said research into the phenomenon has really only taken off in the last seven years.

According to University of Chicago political science professors Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, in any given year roughly half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Their 2014 study found that 19% of Americans believed the U.S. government planned the 9/11 attacks to start a war in the Middle East, 24% believed former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and 25% believed Wall Street bankers conspired to cause the financial crisis that began in 2008. Those are high numbers considering there is zero evidence to support any of those theories.

And a whopping 61% said they do not believe the official conclusion of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. The number has not dropped below 50% since Gallup began polling on the subject just after the 1963 tragedy.

President Trump himself has expressed a belief in at least two of the above conspiracies at one time or another. He was the most vocal proponent of the baseless claim that Obama was not born in America, and during the 2016 Republican primary campaign, Trump implied Sen. Ted Cruz's father was connected to Oswald and the Kennedy killing. Trump has also said climate change is a Chinese-manufactured hoax meant to hurt U.S. industry. His characterization of Russian election meddling as a "made-up story" designed to discredit his election victory was deemed 2017's lie of the year by fact-checker Politifact last week.

Everyone's a suspect
Conspiracy theorists can be conservative, liberal or any other political stripe ? male or female, rich or poor, well educated or not.

To some extent, the human brain is wired to find conspiracy theories appealing. People are highly evolved when it comes to the ability to draw conclusions and predict consequences based on sensory data and observation. But sometimes those same processes can lead to oversimplifications and misperception through what psychologists refer to as "cognitive bias," van Prooijen said.

Among the cognitive biases Van Prooijen and other psychologists believe contribute to the appeal of conspiracy theories are: 

Confirmation bias: People's willingness to accept explanations that fit what they already believe.
Proportionality bias: The inclination to believe that big events must have big causes.
Illusory pattern perception: The tendency to see causal relations where there may not be any.
Yet there are factors that make some people more or less inclined to accept conspiracy theories.

People with greater knowledge of the news media are less likely to believe conspiracy theories, according to a new study, ?News Media Literacy and Conspiracy Theory Endorsement,? in the current issue of Communication and the Public.

?It?s significant that knowledge about the news media ? not beliefs about it, but knowledge of basic facts about structure, content and effects ? is associated with less likelihood one will fall prey to a conspiracy theory, even a theory that is in line with one?s political ideology,? co-author Stephanie Craft, a University of Illinois journalism professor, told the Columbia Journalism Review.

Oliver believes the greatest predictor of people's likelihood to accept conspiracy theories is the degree to which they rely on their intuition over analytical thinking.

"They go with their gut feelings. They?re very susceptible to symbols and metaphors," he said.

Conspiracy theories as coping mechanism?
One reason for the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories is that they serve an important psychological function for people trying to cope with large, stressful events like a terrorist attack.

People "need to blame the anxiety that they feel on different groups and the result is frequently conspiracy theories," van Prooijen said, defining the term as a belief that "a group of actors is colluding in secret in order to reach goals that are considered evil or malevolent."

"People don?t like it when things are really random. Randomness is more threatening than having an enemy. You can prepare for an enemy, you can?t prepare for coincidences."

Conspiracy theories also appeal to people's need to feel special and unique because it gives them a sense of possessing secret knowledge, according to a study in the July 2017 edition of Social Psychology.

Real conspiracies
Of course, sometimes conspiracies turn out to be real.

President Nixon tried to cover up the Watergate break-in; the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran to illegally fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, and the CIA really did test LSD on unwitting U.S. citizens.

Of course, one thing those conspiracies have in common is that they all came to light. And that is almost certain to be the case with any large plot like those imagined by conspiracy theorists.

Yes, conspiracies exist, but the real ones usually don't fit the Hollywood mold of films like The Parallax View, The Manchurian Candidate or Oliver Stone's JFK.

They imagine "a secret government employing hundreds of people that operate with supreme efficiency, everybody having the capability of James Bond and never making an error," said Gerald Posner, author of Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Posner began the book a believer that the mafia was behind the assassination, but his research led him to conclude that the Warren Commission was right and Oswald acted alone.

"After 54 years, you say, 'Where?s the deathbed confession?'" Posner said of the Kennedy assassination. "Where?s the guilty person with a guilty conscience who comes out? Where?s the diary that?s been left by somebody that has now been unearthed?

"Are there some out there that we never found out about? I?m sure," Posner said. "But at the level of assassinating the president of the United States, with the level of complexity and the number of people that would have had to have been involved, for that to have worked? No."

The long-awaited release this year of nearly 2,900 previously classified records related to the Kennedy assassination also failed to produce any evidence of a conspiracy to kill the president. But a few documents remain classified, which is more than enough mystery to keep the conspiracy theories around the assassination alive.

JFK files: Here are the most interesting records on Kennedy assassination, annotated

More: JFK files: Withheld documents only encourage more conspiracy theories, expert says

An act of faith
The absence of evidence never got in the way of a good conspiracy theory. No matter how unlikely a given imagined conspiracy, and no matter how many facts are produced to disprove it, the true believers never budge.

For example, even when Obama released his birth certificate many "birthers" were still certain he was not a natural-born American citizen. The fact that multitudes of horrified people witnessed the planes fly into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, hasn't stopped conspiracy theorists from insisting the towers collapsed because of a controlled demolition.

And what do you say to the people who still aren't convinced we went to the moon or that the Earth is flat?

"I?ve learned that is there no such thing as evidence that persuades a conspiracy theorist," Posner said. "It?s sort of a psycho-religious belief, in part. They just know it?s true even if they can?t quite prove it."

Van Prooijen also called conspiracy theories a "form of belief."

"It doesn?t matter how much evidence to the contrary you raise, these hardcore conspiracy theories will discredit the source of the evidence," van Prooijen said. "It?s very easy to dismiss evidence as being part of the conspiracy, being part of the coverup. So it?s very hard to disprove a conspiracy theory."

Is social media making it worse?
Social media is often the scapegoat for many of contemporary civilization's ills, but surprisingly there is not yet evidence it is increasing the number of conspiracy theory adherents.

"I?m not yet persuaded that the number of people who actually believe in them has increased due to social media," said van Prooijen, adding that people believed in conspiracies in huge numbers long before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.

But van Prooijen and Oliver think those sites, as well as anonymous platforms like 4Chan, have increased the number of conspiracy theories out there and allowed them to spread more quickly.

"It was harder to get conspiracy theories to your doorstep 50 years ago than it is now," said Oliver.

A person who might have been handing out fliers on a street corner to get their ideas out in the past might have 200,000 followers on social media today, Oliver said.

So, what's the harm?
Irrational conspiracy theories can lead people to not vaccinate their children, to deny the scientific evidence of climate change or to dismiss mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary as "false flag" operations meant to spur gun control.

A wildly irrational conspiracy theory that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was connected to a child-sex ring that was being run out of a Washington pizza shop even led to a man opening fire in the restaurant with a semi-automatic rifle. Fortunately, he shot at the ceiling and not the patrons. 

More: 'Pizzagate' gunman attempted to recruit 2 others

Van Prooijen believes such conspiratorial thinking can undermine democracy because it sows distrust and leads to groups perceiving each other as enemies.

Oliver does not believe conspiracy theories have a major impact on politics as much as they are symptomatic of problems with the political system.

"It?s less about the conspiracy theories themselves and it?s more about kind of the flight from reason in political discourse," he said. "American democracy is a product of the Enlightenment, it?s a very explicitly rationalist enterprise."

And if people reject rationality to embrace what they believe over what they can prove, that Democratic enterprise could begin to unravel.

Published 6:19 PM EST Jan 15, 2018
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Online Thomas Graves

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2019, 03:52:24 AM »
"KGB" active measures counterintelligence operations (interwoven with strategic deception counterintelligence operations since 1959) have been encouraging conspiracy theories involving the U.S. government and/or "The Deep State" for a long time, and their efforts have been aided by "useful idiots" like Mark Lane, Oliver Stone, Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Sean Hannity, James "Jumbo Duh" DiEugenio, and yep, Brian Doyle ...

-- MWT  ;)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 04:44:48 AM by Thomas Graves »

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2019, 03:52:24 AM »

Offline Barry Pollard

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2019, 09:40:01 AM »
^
And the reason is Tommy, to distract us from those who really control things.  Keep them angry at the government, meanwhile the heads of these large corporations who are running the show, catch no flack.

Also Paul, without the CT angle, this case is of no interest.  So your crusade(if I may call it that) against the kooks is either completely retraded or a bluff.

 

Online Colin Crow

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2019, 01:38:09 PM »
According to University of Chicago political science professors Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, in any given year roughly half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Their 2014 study found that 19% of Americans believed the U.S. government planned the 9/11 attacks to start a war in the Middle East, 24% believed former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and 25% believed Wall Street bankers conspired to cause the financial crisis that began in 2008. Those are high numbers considering there is zero evidence to support any of those theories.

And a whopping 61% said they do not believe the official conclusion of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. The number has not dropped below 50% since Gallup began polling on the subject just after the 1963 tragedy.

These guys are not rocket scientists are they...... :D

And the article quotes Posner......known plagiarist.....glad you included the copywrite symbol.

Another puff piece that should be in the off topic section. All the wacky theories have those who believe them in the minority.

Fake Moon landing, flat earth, UFOs, Sasquatch, Kennedy killed by lone Oswald etc......all far less than 50% of population believe.  ;D

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2019, 01:38:09 PM »

Online Thomas Graves

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2019, 01:58:53 PM »
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And the reason,Tommy, is to distract us from those who really control things.  Keep them angry at the government, meanwhile the heads of these large corporations who are running the show, catch no flack.

Also Paul, without the CT angle, this case is of no interest.  So your crusade(if I may call it that) against the kooks is either completely retraded or a bluff.

Barry,

Who "really controls things"?

The "KGB" would have us believe that it's the evil, evil, evil CIA and/or "The Deep State".

-- MWT  :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 01:59:56 PM by Thomas Graves »

Online Walt Cakebread

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2019, 02:13:37 PM »
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According to University of Chicago political science professors Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, in any given year roughly half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Their 2014 study found that 19% of Americans believed the U.S. government planned the 9/11 attacks to start a war in the Middle East, 24% believed former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and 25% believed Wall Street bankers conspired to cause the financial crisis that began in 2008. Those are high numbers considering there is zero evidence to support any of those theories.

And a whopping 61% said they do not believe the official conclusion of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. The number has not dropped below 50% since Gallup began polling on the subject just after the 1963 tragedy.

These guys are not rocket scientists are they...... :D

And the article quotes Posner......known plagiarist.....glad you included the copywrite symbol.

Another puff piece that should be in the off topic section. All the wacky theories have those who believe them in the minority.

Fake Moon landing, flat earth, UFOs, Sasquatch, Kennedy killed by lone Oswald etc......all far less than 50% of population believe.  ;D

 Thumb1:  Well said Mr Crow....  I can only echo your words....   

a whopping 61% said they do not believe the official conclusion of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy[/b]

So 61% of the citizens are Kooks and only a small percentage are totally rational and have complete confidence that the official government approve tale is the gospel truth.     We can be sure that of the remaining 39%,... a percentage are agnostic, ( let's say 10%) and another group simply don't care at all ( let's say 10%) ..That reduces the number that accept the official US government approved tale to 19%.   

So only around 19% of the people are rational......and 81% are not.....     

Unfortunately many of the  DON"T GIVE A DAMN group reside in Washington DC.....  Denizens of the swamp on the Potomac, and they have the power to control       


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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2019, 02:13:37 PM »

Offline Gary Craig

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2019, 02:14:30 PM »
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Conspiracy theories: Here's what drives people to them, no matter how wacky
William Cummings  USA TODAY
Published 6:19 PM EST Jan 15, 2018

~snip~



"...Popular belief in a conspiracy was widespread within a week of Kennedy's murder. Between November 25 and 29, 1963,
University of Chicago pollsters asked more than 1,000 Americans whom they thought was responsible for the president's
death. By then, the chief suspect, Oswald -- a leftist who had lived for a time in Soviet Union -- had been shot dead
while in police custody by Jack Ruby, a local hoodlum with organized crime connections.

While the White House, the FBI, and the Dallas Police Department all affirmed that Oswald had acted alone, 62 percent
of respondents said they believed that more than one person was involved in the assassination. Only 24 percent thought
Oswald had acted alone. Another poll taken in Dallas during the same week found 66 percent of respondents believing that
there had been a plot. There were no JFK conspiracy theories in print at that time..."

==================

"...many senior U.S. officials concluded that there had been a plot but rarely talked about it openly.

Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, publicly endorsed the Warren Commissions conclusion that Oswald acted alone. Privately,
LBJ told many people, ranging from Atlantic contributor Leo Janos to CIA director Richard Helms, that he did not believe the

lone-gunman explanation.

The president's brother Robert and widow Jacqueline also believed that he had been killed by political enemies, according to
historians Aleksandr Fursenko and Tim Naftali. In their 1999 book on the Cuban missile crisis, One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev,
Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964, they reported that William Walton -- a friend of the First Lady -- went to Moscow on a previously
scheduled trip a week after JFK's murder. Walton carried a message from RFK and Jackie for their friend, Georgi Bolshakov, a
Russian diplomat who had served as a back-channel link between the White House and the Kremlin during the October 1962 crisis:
RFK and Jackie wanted the Soviet leadership to know that "despite Oswald's connections to the communist world, the Kennedys
believed that the president was felled by domestic opponents."

In the Senate, Democrats Richard Russell of Georgia and Russell Long of Louisiana both rejected official accounts of the assassination.
In the executive branch, Joseph Califano, the General Counsel of Army in 1963 and later Secretary of Health Education and Welfare,
concluded that Kennedy had been killed by a conspiracy.* In the White House, H.R. Haldeman, chief of staff to President Richard Nixon,
wanted to reopen the JFK investigation in 1969. Nixon wasn't interested.

Suspicion persisted in the upper echelons of the U.S. national security agencies, as well. Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, chief of Pentagon
special operations in 1963 (and later an adviser to Stone), believed that there had been a plot.

Winston Scott, chief of the CIA's station in Mexico City at the time of Kennedy's murder and an ultra-conservative Agency loyalist,
rejected the Warren Commission's findings about a trip that Oswald had taken to Mexico six weeks before the assassination. Scott
concluded in an unpublished memoir that Oswald had, indeed, been just a patsy.

None of these figures was a paranoid fantasist. To the contrary, they constituted a cross section of the American power elite in 1963.
Neither did they talk about a JFK conspiracy for public consumption; they talked about it only reservedly, in confined circles..."


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Offline Gary Craig

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 02:22:25 PM »
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"KGB" active measures counterintelligence operations (interwoven with strategic deception counterintelligence operations since 1959) have been encouraging conspiracy theories involving the U.S. government and/or "The Deep State" for a long time, and their efforts have been aided by "useful idiots" like Mark Lane, Oliver Stone, Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Sean Hannity, James "Jumbo Duh" DiEugenio, and yep, Brian Doyle ...

-- MWT  ;)

The "KGB" was an organ of the former USSR. It hasn"t existed since that failed states demise in 1991.

 ::)

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 02:22:25 PM »

Online Thomas Graves

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2019, 03:14:15 PM »
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The "KGB" was an organ of the former USSR. It hasn"t existed since that failed states demise in 1991.

 ::)

Really?

Ya think that might be why I put it in quotation marks?

Regardless, do you really think "active measures" counterintelligence operations, commingled with "strategic deception" (aka "operational deception") counterintelligence operations, against us and our allies, stopped in 1991?

LOL

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-- MWT  :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 03:21:39 PM by Thomas Graves »

Offline Michael O'Brian

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 06:03:08 PM »
Historical facts such as what happened during the period between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatised black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism. ?Terror lynchings? peaked between 1880 and 1940 and claimed the lives of African American men, women, and children who were forced to endure the fear, humiliation, and barbarity of this widespread phenomenon unaided.

These conspiracies to lynch were very well organised, and documented, a very similar scenario was in operation on the day J.F.K was murdered, with the full backing of the majority of people in the city of hate, a conspiracy no doubts about it.

Terror lynchings were horrific acts of violence whose perpetrators were never held accountable. Indeed, some public spectacle lynchings were attended by the entire white community and conducted as celebratory acts of racial control and domination.



J.F.K's death in Texas was a public execution almost like a lynching only another method of death was used, not a theory but a reality based on historical facts
In the midst of this growing instability, officials struggled to control increasingly violent and lawless groups of white supremacists in their states. Beginning as disparate ?social clubs? of former Confederates, these groups morphed into large paramilitary organizations that drew thousands of members from all sectors of white society.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 06:20:44 PM by Michael O'Brian »

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Re: What drives people to conspiracy theory?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 06:03:08 PM »

 

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