The psychology of conspiracy theorists

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posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:36 AM
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Conspiracy theorists are often seen as cranks, and while I have no doubt there are plenty of juicy secrets out there to be discovered, on the evidence of this forum plenty of CTers aren't doing this image any favour.

They often accuse people who don't agree with their theories of being ignorant, or closed-minded, or "refusing to see the obvious", but based on my short time here many on ATS seem to be guilty of those exact same failures.

A couple of examples: member posts low-res blurry images of the moon that he claims show bases or other anomalies and bemoans the fact the there is "no better imagery available". Several members point out that there is, and post much better high-res images of the areas in question, which show rocks and craters, as you'd expect. Said member then says "ah, but low-res images are better because they show these anomalies - the high-res images are doctored!" (Not a shred of evidence presented to back up this claim, obviously.)

Second example: UFO video is posted. Members point out that it is a CGI viral video by an ad agency. (To his credit the person who posted accepts the explanation.) But other people join the thread saying that it must be a genuine video that has been "reverse-engineered" to appear as an advert!

So: refusal to accept evidence that doesn't back up a theory, and the invention of ever more outlandish theories to explain away any new evidence, however much they contradict the original theory. (From "we need better pics of this area" to "the close-ups are doctored, you have to examine the original low-res pics"!)


What's the explanation for this kind of behaviour? And do you agree that it harms the image of the whole community?




posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:44 AM
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The psychology of conspiracy theorists run the same range as the non-conspiracy population.

We've got everything from crackpot nutters, to impressive balanced and calculating minds.

Just like the general population, conspiracy theorists can't be painted with a broad brush.

But the attention usually goes to the nutters or those with obsessive tendencies. Which is a shame.

The news focus is on the crazy 'no planes crashed in the World Trade Center' theorists rather than on
what it should be focused on ... questions about who knew ahead of time and the response to 9/11.
That kind of thing. It makes conspiracy theorists all look nutty ... which is what TPTB want.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:50 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 

I agree with you right up to the last sentence. I don't think "TPTB" (which is a pretty meaningless term) could give two hoots about conspiracy theorists. They have more important things on their minds, like how to line their pockets before the next lot of politicians get into power



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:54 AM
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Some conspiracy theorists (facts) do make the community look bad. But hey u got those in every community.
I'm proud to be of this community



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:55 AM
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More in case you're interested...

www.abovetopsecret.com...&mem=

www.abovetopsecret.com...

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www.abovetopsecret.com...

www.abovetopsecret.com...

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories

Crazy as these theories are, those propagating them are not — they’re quite normal, in fact. But recent scientific research tells us this much: if you think one of the theories above is plausible, you probably feel the same way about the others, even though they contradict one another. And it’s very likely that this isn’t the only news story that makes you feel as if shadowy forces are behind major world


Paranoia and the Roots of Conspiracy Theories

Melley proposes that conspiracy thinking arises from a combination of two factors, when someone: 1) holds strong individualist values and 2) lacks a sense of control. The first attribute refers to people who care deeply about an individual's right to make their own choices and direct their own lives without interference or obligations to a larger system (like the government). But combine this with a sense of powerlessness in one's own life, and you get what Melley calls agency panic, "intense anxiety about an apparent loss of autonomy" to outside forces or regulators.


The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists

My belief? Some are raised this way. Some are just naturally suspicious. Some don't trust a specific thing. There is no one psychology that explains every theorist...and if they attempt to, they're just conspiracy theories of their own.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:55 AM
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Rob48
reply to post by FlyersFan
 

I agree with you right up to the last sentence. I don't think "TPTB" (which is a pretty meaningless term) could give two hoots about conspiracy theorists. They have more important things on their minds, like how to line their pockets before the next lot of politicians get into power



Well actually they do consider us a threat and care about us. Because we could expose their whole operations. I thought they already made up a law in the US that states everybody who is against the government is labeled a domestic threat to security?



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 06:58 AM
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Rob48
I don't think "TPTB" (which is a pretty meaningless term) could give two hoots about conspiracy theorists.

That's fine. I just think that people in charge/power know that conspiracy theorists can be a resource
to use as a distraction for the general public. Get nutter theorists talking about 'no planes hit the WTC'
so that the general population will steer clear of asking legitimate questions about 9/11. that kind of thing.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:03 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 

Yep.

They always do this. And whenever something conspiracy worth (for want of a better term) comes along, they who typically mess up, drop balls, present muddled information, do no investigating of their own, typically then follow up with stories about all the whack conspiracy theories that result. That's pretty freaking disingenuous if you ask me.
edit on 3/22/2014 by ~Lucidity because: clarification



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:10 AM
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reply to post by Rob48
 




What's the explanation for this kind of behaviour? And do you agree that it harms the image of the whole community?


It frequently defines the image of the whole community! Case after case where CTers pursue the least likely and most unreasonable explanations rather than the most obvious and rational.

It'd be stupid for anyone to doubt that unethical practices and political assassinations do, and have, occurred. Moreover politicians will always lie and business will always shape the world in its own interests. There are conspiracies!

None of which means that we're being murdered in our sleep by fluoride, chemtrails or deals with aliens. We aren't about to be rounded up and sent to prison on FEMA trains and, yes, there's a US flag on the moon that a human hand put there. The Smithsonian isn't single-handedly covering up the idea that Ancient Egypt sailed the oceans and had the aliens round for their Sunday dinner. Newsreaders are just good-looking people with no talent and are not 9ft reptilians scrunched into little human forms whilst their fricken' eyelids give them away. NASA is a space agency and not standing in the way of friendly aliens or abandoned bases on the Moon or Phobos.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:12 AM
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It seems you have come to your conclusion based on how you expect conspiracy theorists to be,and how you expect your experience on ATS to be. Might want to lower your expectation bar a little. We have some fabulous researchers here,and we have closed minded trolls,but online or offline they are all real people that interact in the real same screwed up world. You are the director of your own experience here,make it what you will. It really isn't up to any of us to try to change anyones beliefs to match our own,or call them names because they have a different or opposing opinion,although some will try. I ignore those people. If you cannot discuss or debate a topic on an adult level without resorting to a childish temperament ,then I won't continue with you. It is that simple. If more members here stopped feeding troll egos,they would get bored and move on. Regardless,just be the change you want to see here,set the example,and don't worry about others. The choice is yours to accept that other people just are how they are.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:14 AM
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reply to post by Rob48
 


Some thing made a person believe whatever it is they do, and it is scarey to one day confront the fact you may not have examined all the evidence properly before coming to that conclusion.

No one wants to admit they were wrong about something. People will hang on to an illogical conclusion long and hard like its a lifeline before they will admit they are wrong.

That is simple human psychology. It's not unique to conspiracy theorists, its just more apparent with conspiracy theorists when it happens, because whatever they are hanging onto is usually pretty far out there.... that makes them look nuttier than average, while its not really nutty to hang onto an unfounded belief even in the face of evidence to the contrary in reality.

People do it every day, it just seems different when its a topic like life on mars verses "I am the best at my job"... lol
edit on 22-3-2014 by OpinionatedB because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:29 AM
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FlyersFan

Rob48
I don't think "TPTB" (which is a pretty meaningless term) could give two hoots about conspiracy theorists.

That's fine. I just think that people in charge/power know that conspiracy theorists can be a resource
to use as a distraction for the general public. Get nutter theorists talking about 'no planes hit the WTC'
so that the general population will steer clear of asking legitimate questions about 9/11. that kind of thing.



Actually, I haven't seen anything happen that would confirm this, although I believe what you say has merit still.. People have never stopped asking questions about 9/11 because far to many people know it all doesn't add up. Even a judge of the supreme court said that CT'ers were more sane than the people believing the official story. When people always ask questions it sometimes has some very hard to believe versions, but that lasts only a moment when more and more questions are bombarded at officials. People only talk about the wild ones to laugh at them usually.. But the truth seems to have been slowly coming out with 9-11, and even without planes, a lot of people died for nothing but greed and to cover a lot of crimes with mass murder.

op: when people complain about quality of evidence making ct'ers look like nutters, I always look at if that person even knows enough about all those subjects of study it takes to really evaluate the available evidence with even a little degree of authority and get it right.

And with many famous and nutty conspiracies that really have happened, there were people laughing at the evidence and complaining it was rubbish too. But the ones that pulled the plug on the criminals knew better how to judge that evidence .. if you see my point..



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:37 AM
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AccessDenied
It seems you have come to your conclusion based on how you expect conspiracy theorists to be,and how you expect your experience on ATS to be. Might want to lower your expectation bar a little. We have some fabulous researchers here,and we have closed minded trolls,but online or offline they are all real people that interact in the real same screwed up world. You are the director of your own experience here,make it what you will. It really isn't up to any of us to try to change anyone's beliefs to match our own,or call them names because they have a different or opposing opinion,although some will try. I ignore those people. If you cannot discuss or debate a topic on an adult level without resorting to a childish temperament ,then I won't continue with you. It is that simple. If more members here stopped feeding troll egos,they would get bored and move on. Regardless,just be the change you want to see here,set the example,and don't worry about others. The choice is yours to accept that other people just are how they are.

I think the OP has touched a sore point there! That said the OP is absolutely correct. I have followed this stuff for over 40 years and still have reams of books and magazines from my teenager years. However, along comes the internet and the world shrinks massively. Suddenly I have access to a vast amount of information , orders of magnitude more than I ever read as a teenager. I also started to read scientific journals since (becoming an adult) i found out I understood what was written although the medical stuff is hard due to the mass of medical only terms they use (but we have online dictionaries !! yahoo). Conclusion : the vast majority of everything I read as a teenager was nonsense. Most of it written to sell books to fund the authors lifestyle. Now , an awful lot of the conspiracies today are merely more mature versions of those from 40 years ago.

The OP has stated something that the psychologists would agree with 100%. A conspiracist never admits to being wrong even when presented with facts that contradict their opinion. Instead, the conspiracist will modify the conspiracy to encompass the inconvenient facts.

It is not as simple as :

You are the director of your own experience here,make it what you will. It really isn't up to any of us to try to change anyone's beliefs to match our own

for the simple reason that there people here who do not have an opinion one way or another. If those who disagreed with a stated conspiracy, left the forum, what would the fence sitter think? Yes, they would believe the conspiracy must be true because nobody disagrees with it........bad.....very bad. Sorry but the ones who spout total nonsense and ignore blatant facts have to be called out.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:43 AM
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The one common denominator that I have personally noticed in the hard-core conspiracy theorists that I know personally is their inflated egos. I believe egotism goes hand in hand with conspiracy theories the deeper one delves into the realms of suspicion, paranoia and delusion.

I am not contending that all conspiracies are rubbish, in my opinion it's not the subject matter that is in question, it is how one interprets information and assimilates it into their worldview.

I could go on.....



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:43 AM
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reply to post by yorkshirelad
 

Being wrong about a single fact or facts is not to be confused with being wrong about the basic premise of a theory.

It takes a lot of patience, work, debate, review, revision, and information to totally prove or disprove a theory and sometimes decades or even centuries.

Some things don't go away for very good reason. On the counterpoint, this is also not to say that other theories may be based on true mental illness. But even there, can we really prove that someone's perceived reality isn't a reality just because it isn't ours?



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 07:47 AM
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reply to post by seabhac-rua
 

Right or wrong, it takes a strong person with tough skin to swim against the current. Perhaps what you perceive as ego is just this. Placed in context it could simply be defense or perseverance, which isn't always easy to live with or control our reactions to.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 08:07 AM
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reply to post by ~Lucidity
 


I agree, but having a strong personality is not the same as having an aggrandised self image, this is something I have come across many times in people who like to see themselves as being different from everybody else, the type of person who has disdain for people they deem as ignorant, which is usually everybody else. I'm not referring to all conspiracy theorists here, but in all honesty I am referring to pretty much every self proclaimed "awake" individual I have ever met.

I remember well the time I walked into a room to hear two of these people, whom you could call conspiracy theorists, arguing over which one of them had "woken up" more people in their locality. Quite funny, but they were very serious, which actually made it quite pathetic. The things they are always saying are also the opposite of how they act, for example I was informed by another one of these guys that he "loves a good debate" when we were discussing chemtrails, the actual truth of the matter is he hates when somebody disagrees with him. Or I hear a lot of rhetoric coming from these people concerning "the search for the truth" when in reality the only "truth' that they care about is information that will affirm their own strongly held convictions.


edit on 22-3-2014 by seabhac-rua because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 08:32 AM
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reply to post by yorkshirelad
 


Yes I was the same as a kid (although I am not quite as old as you
). I devoured all those UFO and ghost magazines and books, but I found the scientific explanations more interesting than the original mysteries in many cases! Then as I got older I learnt more about optics and physics and that all helps with identifying illusions etc.

An awful lot of conspiracy theories start out with honest misinterpretation of data, or people not knowing how much other data is out there. The people I like debating with are happy to see new data that explains a mystery, and learn something new. The frustrating ones are the ones that disregard new data.

The universe is an incredible and awe-inspiring place, and IMHO it is more awe-inspiring when you can look at it and KNOW what you are looking at rather than looking at it with fear and a lack of understanding.



"I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance anyday" — Douglas Adams.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 08:34 AM
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yorkshirelad


The OP has stated something that the psychologists would agree with 100%. A conspiracist never admits to being wrong even when presented with facts that contradict their opinion. Instead, the conspiracist will modify the conspiracy to encompass the inconvenient facts.

The only issue I have with that statement, is that you are singling out conspiracy theorists , when in my original post I tried to point out that on any given topic, you may find many whom are not conspiracy theorists who would exhibit the same.It seems the OP believes that those who believe in conspiracy theories should be above displaying that behavior.


It is not as simple as :


You are the director of your own experience here,make it what you will. It really isn't up to any of us to try to change anyone's beliefs to match our own


for the simple reason that there people here who do not have an opinion one way or another. If those who disagreed with a stated conspiracy, left the forum, what would the fence sitter think? Yes, they would believe the conspiracy must be true because nobody disagrees with it........bad.....very bad. Sorry but the ones who spout total nonsense and ignore blatant facts have to be called out.

I would have to say that there is nothing wrong with having no opinion,one way or the other. It means you are still open to new possibilities, new research, new theories, and most of all the respect that others opinions may differ from yours. A fence sitter is open to all options.I believe you and I have a different opinion of a fence sitter. As for those whom you state spout total nonsense and must be called out- how do you know for sure what they are stating is nonsense? How does that apply when it is you on the other side of that judgement? IMHO, if you cannot practice tolerance in an online forum to discuss or debate a topic, that pretty much sums up to me what the member is like offline.There are many threads about how society has changed and how people are acting towards one another, and this site will never be the exception. The point I was hopefully trying to make, was that even though it may be hard to attain a decent level of civility on ATS, it is no reason not to strive for it. To me, it is just as simple as that.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 09:56 AM
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OP, while it is true there are members who will refuse to see the "truth" about certain instances, there are also other members that just come and say; " Bull! Easy to see it's fake, what a loser!
"

But they will offer no instructions as to all the WHYs in the world.

ATS motto is deny ignorance, but certain members, that could teach others, don't and they use the excuse that " it has been discussed before ", or plain ole insults. Great, but what if it was discussed 10 years ago, and that it is a young person that asks and that just "learned" about said "fallacy"?...

Do we teach or shame?





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