Author Topic: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories  (Read 617 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« on: September 14, 2020, 19:26:44 »
Oh sure, this is what the government wants us to think 😊

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

Is there a link between conspiratorial thinking and psychopathology?

Conspiracy theories are defined as a minority theory, or alternative explanation, for important events. Conspiratorial thinking typically challenges conventional wisdom, and has often been likened to paranoid ideations. In fact, recent evidence suggests there are commonalities underlying certain personality traits of individuals who strongly endorse conspiracy theories to those with psychological illness.

Conspiracy theories often result when an explanation for a major event is unfounded or believed to be insufficient. It is, therefore, the result of the human tendency to need resolution and understanding. Specifically, conspiracy theories attempt to explain events in ways that foster a sense of control and safety in the mind of the believer (Douglas, Sutton, & Cichocka, 2017). Conspiracy theories tend to be formed in monological thinkers (i.e. those who garner information from a singular source that is believed to be true and is without consideration of contrasting discourse).

It is not surprising, then, that conspiracy theories tend to flourish, and they do so for a number of reasons. For one, conspiracy theories are attractive as they appeal to the emotions of belief-holders. Conspiracy theories offer an answer, or explanation of events, that reduces anxiety. In doing so, conspiracy theories give a false sense of control to the believer. Conspiracy theories also flourish by nature of their tendency to be neither testable nor, as a result, falsifiable. Take, for example, the classic hypothesis-testing paradigm: if you want to prove that all swans are white, you shouldn’t look for white swans. You must look for black swans. The design of conspiracy theories is to look for white swans, it is thus both unscientific and self-perpetuating.

However, conspiratorial beliefs also persist in spite of strong evidence to the contrary. Herein lies the correlation to psychotic processes. A primary symptom of psychosis is delusional thinking. Delusions are defined as false beliefs. They can be paranoid, grandiose, or persecutory in nature, however, they all share their tendency to be unwavering in the face of contrasting evidence. This type of poor reality testing is also found amongst individuals who hold strong beliefs in conspiracy theories.

Other commonalities amongst individuals with psychosis and those who hold conspiratorial beliefs are a tendency to be anxious, to hold other paranormal and paranoid beliefs, to engage in monological thinking, and to overly endorse their own intuition/causal attributions rather than engage in analytical and rational problem-solving. The jumping-to-conclusions bias, which is well-documented in individuals with psychosis, has also been attributed to conspiratorial believers (Drinkwater, Dagnall, & Parker, 2012).

While finding causal explanations for events is a crucial part of understanding the world around us, the deviant cognitive processes underlying both psychosis and conspiratorial thinking can be dangerous.


https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/adventures-in-cognition/202009/the-psychology-conspiracy-theories
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 01:40:59 »
"Conspiracy theories often result when an explanation for a major event is unfounded or believed to be insufficient. It is, therefore, the result of the human tendency to need resolution and understanding. Specifically, conspiracy theories attempt to explain events in ways that foster a sense of control and safety in the mind of the believer (Douglas, Sutton, & Cichocka, 2017). Conspiracy theories tend to be formed in monological thinkers (i.e. those who garner information from a singular source that is believed to be true and is without consideration of contrasting discourse)."

Eg. Trump must have conspired with Russians to fix his election.

That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 04:16:27 »

Eg. Trump must have conspired with Russians to fix his election.

...or, Obama and Biden conspired to frame Trump and his associates for colluding with Russians to fix his election.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2020, 13:00:59 »
...or, Obama and Biden conspired to frame Trump and his associates for colluding with Russians to fix his election.

Oh... you're good  :Tin-Foil-Hat: :)
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
— Jerry Pournelle —

Offline shawn5o

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Re: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2020, 14:04:31 »
Brian Dunning weighs in from a conspiracy theory (I think) 2017. Interesting read


Australia Doesn't Exist, and Other Geographic Conspiracy Theories
The belief that Australia doesn't exist may not be as unique as you think

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Conspiracy Theories
Skeptoid Podcast #745
September 15, 2020

A few years ago we covered a conspiracy theory that claimed the country of Finland doesn't exist, and all the world's governments cooperatively conspired to fool all the world's citizens into believing in it as a ploy to get extra fish to feed struggling post-war Japan. Well, regardless of how plausible you may have felt that one was or wasn't, we have another one for you today: a similar claim made about Australia, complete with an equally believable motive.

Australia Doesn't Exist

In 2006, an anonymous post on the Flat Earth Society forum first raised the idea of Australia being fake. It said, in part:

Quote
Most of you have probably been brought up believing in the imaginary land called Australia... Well, the fact is that Australia doesn't really exist. Everything you have ever heard about it was made up, and any pictures of it you have seen were faked by the government. I am sure you have even talked to people on the internet who claim to be from Australia. They are really secret government agents.

The idea languished in Internet obscurity for a long time until a Swedish Facebook user named Shelley Floryd revived it based on some random thread on Reddit, and this time she added a motivation:

Quote
Australia is not real. It's a hoax, made for us to believe that Britain moved over their criminals to someplace. In reality, all these criminals were loaded off the ships into the waters, drowning before they could see land ever again. It's a coverup for one of the greatest mass murders in history, made by one of the most prominent empires... Australia is not real. It's a codeword for the cold blooded murder of more than a hundred thousand people, and it is not okay. We will not, accept this. Stand up for the ones who died. Let it be known, that Australia does not exist.

The post was quickly shared over 20,000 times before Floryd deleted it, telling BuzzFeed News at the time that she was buried in ridicule from angry Australians, including "100 or so" death threats. She probably wishes she'd kept a bit more distance from Flat Earther forums. But regardless, let us expend an appropriate amount of effort presenting the evidence that Australia is in fact real.

Now that we're done with that, it's worth noting that Finland and Australia aren't the only places in the world that are both denied by some to exist, and can be easily visited by anyone at any time. In a nondescript part of Germany, you may or may not find a city called Bielefeld.

More at
Skeptoid
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2020, 16:54:31 »
>Obama and Biden conspired to frame Trump and his associates

Since they were both in the office during discussions about what to do with Trump Associate Flynn...yes.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

Despair is a sin.