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Bad Thinkers Why do some people believe conspiracy theories?

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  • Bad Thinkers Why do some people believe conspiracy theories?

    Bad Thinkers
    Why do some people believe conspiracy theories? It’s not just who or what they know. It’s a matter of intellectual character.


    Meet Oliver. Like many of his friends, Oliver thinks he is an expert on 9/11. He spends much of his spare time looking at conspiracist websites and his research has convinced him that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, of 11 September 2001 were an inside job. The aircraft impacts and resulting fires couldn’t have caused the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to collapse. The only viable explanation, he maintains, is that government agents planted explosives in advance. He realises, of course, that the government blames Al-Qaeda for 9/11 but his predictable response is pure Mandy Rice-Davies: they would say that, wouldn’t they?
    ...
    I want to argue for something which is controversial, although I believe that it is also intuitive and commonsensical. My claim is this: Oliver believes what he does because that is the kind of thinker he is or, to put it more bluntly, because there is something wrong with how he thinks. The problem with conspiracy theorists is not, as the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein argues, that they have little relevant information. The key to what they end up believing is how they interpret and respond to the vast quantities of relevant information at their disposal. I want to suggest that this is fundamentally a question of the way they are. Oliver isn’t mad (or at least, he needn’t be). Nevertheless, his beliefs about 9/11 are the result of the peculiarities of his intellectual constitution – in a word, of his intellectual character.

    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/b...=pocket-newtab

  • #2
    Dont let ffreeloader get wind of this......
    _/\_

    Christians: "I - a stranger and afraid - in a world I never made.." -- Houseman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by The Barbarian View Post
      My claim is this: Oliver believes what he does because that is the kind of thinker he is or, to put it more bluntly, because there is something wrong with how he thinks. The problem with conspiracy theorists is not, as the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein argues, that they have little relevant information. The key to what they end up believing is how they interpret and respond to the vast quantities of relevant information at their disposal. I want to suggest that this is fundamentally a question of the way they are.
      Perhaps 'personality trait' might be a better term than character trait, but I agree with the idea that it's "fundamentally a question of the way they are." Another question would be how did they get to be the way they are? How much is genetic, how much is environmental? How intertwined the two can be.

      When it comes to vulnerability to conspiracy theories, I think Right Wing Authoritarianism Personality has a significant role to play. Very simplistically:

      Right-wing authoritarians want society and social interactions structured in ways that increase uniformity and minimize diversity. In order to achieve that, they tend to be in favour of social control, coercion and the use of group authority to place constraints on the behaviours of people such as political dissidents and ethnic minorities.
      These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behaviour. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference. Right-wing authoritarianism is characterized by obedience to authority, moral absolutism, racial and ethnic prejudice and intolerance and punitiveness towards dissidents and deviants.

      When you have a conspiracy which seeks to portray the "other" (religiously - Islam, politically - "leftists, sociologically - "homosexuals, gun control advocates," etc.) as the danger to the perceived social order (God, guns, WASP majority), the right wing authoritarian is going to see anything or anyone attempting to disconfirm their conspiratorial mindset as part of the conspiratorial enemy and I don't know how you get past that. I don't know if it's possible.


      Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

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      • #4
        Originally posted by quip View Post
        Dont let ffreeloader get wind of this......
        Too many multi-syllable words for him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Barbarian View Post
          Why do some people believe conspiracy theories?
          Because Epstein didn't kill himself.
          Where is the evidence for a global flood?
          E≈mc2
          "the best maths don't need no stinkin' numbers"

          "The waters under the 'expanse' were under the crust."
          -Bob B.

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          • #6
            A few conspiracy theories turn out to be true. And some others are more or less true.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by User Name View Post
              A few conspiracy theories turn out to be true.



              For example, on 911, 19 radical mooslims conspired to wreak destruction on American targets by hijacking four jets and flying them into buildings

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              • #8
                Right-wing authoritarians want society and social interactions structured in ways that increase uniformity and minimize diversity. In order to achieve that, they tend to be in favour of social control, coercion and the use of group authority to place constraints on the behaviours of people such as political dissidents and ethnic minorities. These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behaviour. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference. Right-wing authoritarianism is characterized by obedience to authority, moral absolutism, racial and ethnic prejudice and intolerance and punitiveness towards dissidents and deviants.

                Hey guys, sound like anybody(s) you know?

                Great find Anna...I'd use it as my sig but it's too big.
                _/\_

                Christians: "I - a stranger and afraid - in a world I never made.." -- Houseman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Conservatism and liberalism are strongly linked to details of neuranatomy, so much so that the differences are a better predictor of one's political attitude than is one's family environment.

                  Politically conservative views correlated with larger amygdala, smaller anterior cingulate cortex

                  While understanding brain structure could be helpful when engaging in any bipartisan negotiation that reaches across the aisle, of course, as Saltz explains, "it's not black-and-white" for every individual. But it does give a pretty good guess at which kind of appeal could resonate more successfully with the political other, depending on how they respond to fear-based decision-making and how open they are to new information.

                  "Basically the study showed that if you just based it on brain structural size difference, you could predict who would be a conservative and who would be a liberal with a frequency of 71.6 percent; 71.6 percent is a pretty high ability to predict who is a conservative and who is a liberal just from brain structure," Saltz said.
                  00:00/00:00

                  "When you look at what your parents were in terms of predicting what you might be in terms of conservative versus liberal, that enabled you to predict in studies at a rate of 69.5 percent. So very close. Not quite as good. And why is that interesting? It’s because the brain is plastic," Saltz continued.

                  https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/stu...tures_partner/

                  It should be noted that hostility and caution are as useful in survival as openness and curiosity. It's just that liberals and conservatives have more of one than the other.

                  Your question about conspiracy buffs:
                  How much is genetic, how much is environmental?
                  Might have something to do with this, albeit indirectly. Is there a "MAGA-gene" that causes some kind of pattern-recognition overdrive leading one to be particularly subject to weird conspiracy theories? Hard to say, but there are important pattern-recognition structures in the brain, and while being good at inferring things from limited stimuli is a very good survival function, if it's carried to far, you end up with "the FBI and the CIA are our enemies!" or "everyone who died, was killed by Hillary Clinton!"

                  We just don't know all the details. My guess is that a lot of it is intellectual laziness, but probably some specific structures in the brain do have a significant role.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ok doser View Post



                    For example, on 911, 19 radical mooslims conspired to wreak destruction on American targets by hijacking four jets and flying them into buildings
                    So far as I can tell, that is what happened. But then there is Project MKUltra--the CIA's secret mind control research program during the 1940s to 1970s, which used things like mind altering drugs, hypnosis, and all manner of torture on innocent and unsuspecting people in an attempt to break their minds and create "Manchurian Candidates" among other things. Of course, a number of people were killed in the process, and others were left insane. Rumors of this dark program floated about for decades before it was proven to be fact. Just one of a number of disturbing conspiracy theories that turned out to be conspiracy fact.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stripe View Post
                      Because Epstein didn't kill himself.

                      abc news anchor Amy Robach hot mic
                      had evidence on Clinton , prince Andrew & Epstien 3 years ago

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by way 2 go View Post
                        abc news anchor Amy Robach hot mic
                        had evidence on Clinton , prince Andrew & Epstien 3 years ago
                        Yes, there is obviously much, much more to the Epstein case than we are being told. Another example of a conspiracy theory turning into fact.

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                        • #13
                          when the story first broke (in the summer?) there was a lot of attention given to the existence of boxes and boxes of videotapes and how they would be able to identify participating pervs

                          and then we (the country/the msm) forgot all about with the circus that is the trump impeachment investigation

                          wouldn't you think that reporters would be clamoring for access to or information about those tapes?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Barbarian View Post
                            We just don't know all the details. My guess is that a lot of it is intellectual laziness, but probably some specific structures in the brain do have a significant role.
                            I'm familiar with the basics of the study, and while it adds to the information we have, we really don't know all the details. It's too big, too complex. The simplest scientific method tells us these brain structure differences correlate as you've noted but we don't know if the brain structures are different as the result of the political thought processes or if the political thought processes affected the brain structures. We do know that what we form in our minds about our political beliefs process all across the brain, not just in those two areas.

                            I don't think intellectual laziness is as much of a factor as others, there are so many kinds of social influences at play, from conformity to normative/informational social influences, groupthink, obedience (which ties back to right wing authoritarianism), religious, and so on. The pressure of these kinds of influences can't be understated imo. Take any conspiracy pushed by Trump for example, add a religious figure who tells you that it's your Christian duty to vote for Trump, your parents who echo the same, your conservative social circle who reinforces and reassures you that you're on the 'right track,' your polarized online community to circle wagons against the common enemy, the MAGA rally that gives you the emotional high, the sense of shared grievance. You end up so invested in this belief that to walk it back is unthinkable. Literally, the thought doesn't take form.

                            Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by User Name View Post
                              So far as I can tell, that is what happened. But then there is Project MKUltra--the CIA's secret mind control research program during the 1940s to 1970s, which used things like mind altering drugs, hypnosis, and all manner of torture on innocent and unsuspecting people in an attempt to break their minds and create "Manchurian Candidates" among other things. Of course, a number of people were killed in the process, and others were left insane. Rumors of this dark program floated about for decades before it was proven to be fact. Just one of a number of disturbing conspiracy theories that turned out to be conspiracy fact.
                              Originally posted by User Name View Post
                              Yes, there is obviously much, much more to the Epstein case than we are being told. Another example of a conspiracy theory turning into fact.

                              I don't really see either of these two as examples of conspiracy theories like, say, pizzagate, though. I could be wrong, and I'm open to seeing it differently, but I see MK Ultra as an example of government gone bad, of secret, illegal, illicit rogue activity that goes on to this day that we don't know about. As for Epstein, if he was killed rather than committed suicide, is that a conspiracy theory in the same way that saying Sandy Hook was a false flag operation? What's a good way to classify conspiracy theories based on their relationship to rational, factual information?

                              Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

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