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Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? Intellectual Character?

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posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 09:47 AM
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So this morning I was doing some research on Quantum Consciousness and other quantum fields. I really liked an article on aeon.co/magazine so I stumbled around a bit, let alone to see on the front page a link to an essay entitled Why do some people believe conspiracy theories? It’s not just who or what they know. It’s a matter of intellectual character by Quassim Cassam a professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick in Coventry, and is an author of several books.

Believing in several conspiracys myself I thought I would read what Mr. Cassam had to say about my Intellectual Character as to why I believe in what I do. The essay begins with this:


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?


Oliver as it is later revealed is a fictitiious character. He is metaphor for conspiracy theorists in general, but this character remains mentioned through out, although little is revealed as to what specifically Oliver believes about 9/11 besides that "it must have been an inside job because the aircrafts couldn't have demolished the buildings from explosion and resulting fire on their own." I personally believe Cassam should have interviewed several proponents of the 9/11 conspiracy before using this metaphor through out, but I will continue.


Usually, when philosophers try to explain why someone believes things (weird or otherwise), they focus on that person’s reasons rather than their character traits.Oliver believes that 9/11 was an inside job is to identify his reasons for believing this, and the person who is in the best position to tell you his reasons is Oliver. When you explain Oliver’s belief by giving his reasons, you are giving a ‘rationalising explanation’ of his belief.


Of course Oliver would be in the best posistion to tell you his own reasons, but Oliver would surely bolster his claim with substantial evidence he has gathered while researching this subject in depth wouldn't he? No true conspiracy theorist (especially something as monumental and complex as 9/11) would consistenly argue his claim with only one reason why it wasn't Al Queda. No investigative research or scientific method works this way, however Cassam continually uses this to paint his own picture of reality in monochrome.



The problem with this is that rationalising explanations take you only so far. If you ask Oliver why he believes 9/11 was an inside job he will, of course, be only too pleased to give you his reasons: it had to be an inside job, he insists, because aircraft impacts couldn’t have brought down the towers. He is wrong about that, but at any rate that’s his story and he is sticking to it. What he has done, in effect, is to explain one of his questionable beliefs by reference to another no less questionable belief. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell us why he has any of these beliefs. There is a clear sense in which we still don’t know what is really going on with him.

So this philospopher can tell a person (imaginary) they are wrong about something when he does not mention why he is wrong, or show knowledge that he himself has even looked into the subject. But because it doesn't mend to what he believes, he is able to oust all theories as wrong if they are a conspiracy type? OK, he is a philosopher so he is trying to say what then?



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... Nevertheless, his beliefs about 9/11 are the result of the peculiarities of his intellectual constitution – in a word, of his intellectual character.


Ahh, so you know how this imaginary and seemingly ignorant and short-sided person thinks? He knows how one person thinks, that he created in his own mind, in order to explain real people interested in conspiracy's. I guess that may make more sense if I was a professor like he. But I can't say it does, and he does continue.


Now let’s flesh out Oliver’s story a little: suppose it turns out that he believes lots of other conspiracy theories apart from the one about 9/11. He believes the Moon landings were faked, that Diana, Princess of Wales, was murdered by MI6, and that the Ebola virus is an escaped bioweapon. Those who know him well say that he is easily duped, and you have independent evidence that he is careless in his thinking, with little understanding of the difference between genuine evidence and unsubstantiated speculation. Suddenly it all begins to make sense, but only because the focus has shifted from Oliver’s reasons to his character.


Ok, so Oliver believes in anything that goes against what MSM or the Government has told him, and also careless thinker, with elementary knowledge regarding how to look at a topic without already holding a strong belief on the outcome of that subject, thus constantly biasing his findings to find what supports his theory. I would say accurate for some out there, but to lump all in with this characature of mongoloidian descent? That's very just of you Professor. Continue being smart and just please..


It is in the nature of many intellectual character traits that you don’t realise you have them, and so aren’t aware of the true extent to which your thinking is influenced by them. The gullible rarely believe they are gullible and the closed-minded don’t believe they are closed-minded. The only hope of overcoming self-ignorance in such cases is to accept that other people – your co-workers, your spouse, your friends – probably know your intellectual character better than you do.


So we are to overcome ignorance by accpeting that our peers know more about how we think than we do ourselves? Ok, and if each peer gives differing prognoses? Being an ignorant and gullible person may lead Oliver to suggest that everyone knows everything about him, and now their is a conspiracy as to how they know so much. They have been reading his mind Oliver is sure. But then again, Oliver has always believed these people were stupid sheep. He is now taking advice from a group of people that to him are walking zombies, but happy zombies. And he is to be converted into one as well I suppose? I guess to overcome ignorance.


But even that won’t necessarily help. After all, it might be that refusing to listen to what other people say about you is one of your intellectual character traits. Some defects are incurable.




posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:00 AM
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a reply to: iDope

You seem to have taken the article pretty personal.

The fictitious character could very easily be some people I have seen post on here. Seems like he is based on a real swath of the ct populace.


I find this sort of interesting so could you please post a link to the article so I can read more.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:00 AM
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The World needs CTers or Critical Thinkers as I like to call them.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:11 AM
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a reply to: iDope

This exercise in demonstrating a universal mindset of "I, we, know better for you pitiful, little folks," is well understood by those of us having had UFO experiences that defy the common consensus of the herds that march through levels of "higher education" and attack us with framed notices on their walls verifying their validity to "know better."



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:13 AM
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Oliver see's the constant lies coming from authority figures and organizations. How can he not see conspiracies everywhere?

Lies and deceit from those that say "trust me" is where the conspiracies come from....not Oliver.

When JUSTICE is reserved only for those in power....everything is a conspiracy!
edit on 15-3-2015 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:14 AM
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a reply to: iDope
maybe ot but I've always felt that there was something really wrong with society.
A lot of "conspiracies" catch my attention since it offers a explanation for what i see in my own life and around me.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:16 AM
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a reply to: Grimpachi

originally posted by: Grimpachi
could you please post a link to the article so I can read more.

aeon.co...

edit on 15-3-2015 by gmoneystunt because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:21 AM
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a reply to: iDope

CONT.

Well Cassam beat me to it, some defects are uincurable, especially shutting out the truth from others. So what is wrong with me Philoprophet?


Linda Zagzebski, in her book Virtues of the Mind (1996), has called ‘intellectual vices’. Others include negligence, idleness, rigidity, obtuseness, prejudice, lack of thoroughness, and insensitivity to detail. Intellectual character traits are habits or styles of thinking. To describe Oliver as gullible or careless is to say something about his intellectual style or mind-set – for example, about how he goes about trying to find out things about events such as 9/11. Intellectual character traits that aid effective and responsible enquiry are intellectual virtues, whereas intellectual vices are intellectual character traits that impede effective and responsible inquiry. Humility, caution and carefulness are among the intellectual virtues Oliver plainly lacks, and that is why his attempts to get to the bottom of 9/11 are so flawed.


I thought Oliver also lacked thouroughness and showed insensitivity as well, but I'm not his creator. So because he was enquiring about 9/11, but he wasn't responsible at getting the correct information, and carelessly holding onto one scrap of plausibility to support his claim, he has thricely viced when a more indepth investigation could have led him into a virtuous charachter. I would say his only flaw is looking at those pretty fires for so long and ending the investigation at that professor.


Intellectual character explanations of questionable beliefs are more controversial than one might imagine. For example, it has been suggested that explaining peoples’ bad behaviour or weird beliefs by reference to their character makes us more intolerant of them and less empathetic. Yet such explanations might still be correct, even if they have deleterious consequences. In any case, it’s not obvious that character explanations should make us less tolerant of other peoples’ foibles. Suppose that Oliver can’t help being the kind of person who falls for conspiracy theories. Shouldn’t that make us more rather than less tolerant of him and his weird beliefs? A different objection to character-based explanations is that it’s just not true that people have questionable beliefs because they are stupid or gullible. In How We Know What Isn’t So (1991), the US social psychologist Thomas Gilovich argues that many such beliefs have ‘purely cognitive origins’, by which he means that they are caused by imperfections in our capacities to process information and draw conclusions.


So now Oliver has a cognitive dissassociation with reality, he obviously should be treated like a special person with a dissability, not to shun him for outrageous claims. But to pat him on the head and tell him good job, give him a trophy once a year for hard work, though useless and benefitng noone else but Oliver, that is just I suppose.


Differences in intellectual character help to explain why people in the same situation end up believing such different things...Intellectual character explains intellectual conduct only in conjunction with a lot of other things, including your situation and the way your brain processes information...In practical terms, one of the hardest things about dealing with people such as Oliver is that they are more than likely to accuse you of the same intellectual vices that you detect in them. You say that Oliver is gullible for believing his 9/11 conspiracy theory; he retorts that you are gullible for believing the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. You say that he dismisses the official account of 9/11 because he is closed-minded; he accuses you of closed-mindedness for refusing to take conspiracy theories seriously. If we are often blind to our own intellectual vices then who are we to accuse Oliver of failing to realise that he believes his theories only because he is gullible?


So I guess Cassam is saying that the believer in the 9/11 Commission report is right in comparison to Oliver. Do you know anyone who has read the 9/11 Commission report and agreed with the enitre story? Let alone someone who does not believe the 9/11 conspiracy has reached out to find out what really happened according to the Gov? No, it's in the past, they have closed that chapter on life, and all the following chapters have some pretty wicked wars in the Mideast and they interupt my reality TV to give me breaaking news, right when my favorite Idol is on stage



Education is the best way of doing that (changing vices). Intellectual vices are only tendencies to think in certain ways, and tendencies can be countered. Our intellectual vices are balanced by our intellectual virtues, by intellectual character traits such as open-mindedness, curiosity and rigour. The intellectual character is a mixture of intellectual virtues and vices, and the aims of education should include cultivating intellectual virtues and curtailing intellectual vices.

Ok so now Oliver was just looking at the wrong type of information, negative education in his research that led to closed minded beliefs based off his own one finding. I really think Cassam is now trying to link conspiracy theorists to the uneducated and unskilled at doing their own research to acrue their own portfolio of data in order to substantiate their off based claims. And only believing 9/11 Commission report is using the virtue of curiosity, open-mindeness, and rigour to find truth? Hmmm, seems like only using one source that was provided by one government seems to be contrary to a virtuous investigation.

But what the Hell do I know? My teachers told me Pluto was a planet. Glad I din't look into it or care about pluto! 9 planets forever!

Heres the linky to UK's Socrates
conspiracy theorists arent smart enough to believe the truth I believe



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: iDope

I tend to question the intellectual integrity of those that grovel at the feet of authority.

Even sloppy investigation is better than none at all. Blind obedience is where the danger lies from those not smart enough to see the intellectual fascism all around us.

We are hard wired to look behind the curtain.

And don't think we don't see what you are trying to do here....

edit on 15-3-2015 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:35 AM
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a reply to: Grimpachi

I posted the link and added more. Do you know how I can put my 2nd part below my first? I don't want to read the T&C as it may differ from what I believe, I will listen to my peers though. lol.

I do agree the fictitious charachter does resemble some that post, or some that stumble on som crazy experiment that proves the sun is a hologram or something and uses only one source to undeniabley change how they view our solar system and entire reality. And even get butthurt if many dispprove by showing errors and fallacies in the data, or having a hypothesis and then trying to prove the hypothesis right and ignoring everything that doesn't mesh with the data.

And I only took it personal because the author acts like believing in UFO's or abductions, or a coup assasination, any false flag to enter a war, etc, means that there is something wrong with how you think. He doesn't even attempt to acknolwedge researchers whom have spent years looking into a subject and accumulate many supporting theories to bolster their claim on a subject that may be covered up in some way. Oliver is like a philosopher who only read one book on philospohy, so he stands by only what is in that one book. So this is the protypical conspiracy theory fanatic. A fanatic that hasn't even seen the sequels or looked farther into something. He was content with one reason to explain the whole. That is what bothered me. He did have decent material regarding the influences of belief, but other than that, he is biased. lol. When you follow the link, look what picture and words are associated with this essay. The pic is for you to seee, the words say "Bad Thinkers." He would be surprised I could even read his article, I wasn't even thinking about what was said.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:42 AM
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originally posted by: olaru12
Oliver see's the constant lies coming from authority figures and organizations. How can he not see conspiracies everywhere?

Lies and deceit from those that say "trust me" is where the conspiracies come from....not Oliver.

When JUSTICE is reserved only for those in power....everything is a conspiracy!


Luckily we can trust what the media tells us is truth. If it's shown on every channel every hour for an entire day, it must have been well researched and a true event that must be heard with an unfettering trust that the media wants us to be knowledgeable about our world. Brian Williams told biographical stories about the intensity and horror of war, yet his memory was much like Oliver, a figment of imagination.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 10:50 AM
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My conspiracy friend, a character who is so typical of this demographic, provides me with a lot of insights into this mindset.

Conspiracies are real. Ok lets get that out of the way. That's not what this is about as far as I'm concerned.

Back to my acquaintance. He believes pretty much all the conspiracy theories relating to a nefarious hidden group who run everything, are evil, the NWO, the Illuminati etc etc. Conspiracies related to this 'genre' are: Economic crashes, 9/11 and the ensuing wars, assassinations, weather manipulation(chemtrails, his favourite), population reduction and eugenics, GM foods, vaccines, HAARP, Moon landing fakery, occultism etc, there are probably more but these are the topics I hear my friend talk about. Notice how the subject of UFOs is not included? I happen to be interested in this subject myself, a fact he mocks me for.

I have known my friend since our school days. Lets call him Derek. Derek was a funny guy, always up to mischief, always looking for a laugh. Derek was not very good in school though, I guess he had some 'learning issues'. He had, and still has, a very short attention span, he has never read a book because he finds it too hard to concentrate. He is very impressionable and easily convinced by persuasion. After school he became a tradesman, and was very good at his job, he was always a very practical guy, and good with his hands. I guess Derek is not what you'd call an 'intellectual', but he's a hard worker, an honest person, and a likeable fellow.

About 6 years ago Derek became interested in 'conspiracy theories'. His life has not been the same since. He has had his ups and downs, he quit working about 4 years ago, has came close to a nervous breakdown a couple of times, and now has become a minor celebrity in his local area as 'Mad Derek' which, as you might guess, has both positive and negative implications.

As long as I've known Derek he has always sought an identity for himself. I see this current 'version' of Derek as his latest and most significant identity, he has been through a lot since becoming "awake" as he call it. He has had conflict with his friends and family over his convictions, he has had runs ins with the local police, he has nearly lost his house, he suspects that 'they' are watching him. He is now committed more than ever to his cause.

The sad thing about Derek, in my eyes, is that he was never that smart. He has not got the head for detail. When we discuss something like chemtrails for example, as soon as the conversation becomes technical he gets angry and accuses me of trying to "make him look stupid". He considers academics(aka so called experts who parrot the government's official story) as people who have been "brainwashed", all of them. He scoffs at anybody from archeologists to meteorologists who "don't know what they're talking about" and are just there to keep the rest of us in the dark. Everywhere he looks he sees evidence of convictions. Everybody he knows is a "sheep", from friends to family. He stands on street corners 'proselytising' and handing out leaflets. He is so entrenched in his beliefs now that there doesn't seem to be a way of getting through to him.

To finalise. Derek sees himself as an enlightened person, but more importantly he sees himself in a new light, his life has purpose, he has a mission. For me Derek is the exact same as a person who has 'found God'. He is a convert, he had been wandering around in the dark but now he has found the light. There's no talking to Derek now, and unless you say what he wants to hear he won't listen.




edit on 15-3-2015 by seabhac-rua because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:00 AM
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originally posted by: iDope

originally posted by: olaru12
Oliver see's the constant lies coming from authority figures and organizations. How can he not see conspiracies everywhere?

Lies and deceit from those that say "trust me" is where the conspiracies come from....not Oliver.

When JUSTICE is reserved only for those in power....everything is a conspiracy!


Luckily we can trust what the media tells us is truth. If it's shown on every channel every hour for an entire day, it must have been well researched and a true event that must be heard with an unfettering trust that the media wants us to be knowledgeable about our world. Brian Williams told biographical stories about the intensity and horror of war, yet his memory was much like Oliver, a figment of imagination.


I trust the media about the same as I trust those in power; which is not at all. Any power structure worth it's salt controls the media.

I also don't trust what is said on the www. even though there is an effort by some to wrap the mantel of truth around their carrion frame. Imo the www. is part and partial of the media with it's agenda of lies and control. It would be foolish to think otherwise.
edit on 15-3-2015 by olaru12 because: #%^h56retyu



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:09 AM
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We believe in conspiracies because we are ALL capable of contriving them.

Knowing that little fact, it seems impossible NOT to consider that people with more power or resources than us, could well come up with schemes to advance their own agendas.

Many of us would.



To refuse all conspiracies is a sign of complete indoctrination. There are and always have been greedy and evil people. Only a fool would believe that those days are over, no more evidence required at this point.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:11 AM
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originally posted by: olaru12


I trust the media about the same as I trust those in power. Any power structure worth it's salt controls the media.

I also don't trust what is said on the www. even though there is an effort by some to wrap the mantel of truth around their carrion frame. Imo the www. is part and partial of the media with it's agenda of lies and control. It would be foolish to think otherwise.


Who can be trusted? It seems like everyone is out to push their own agenda in some fashion. Marijuana was criminalized about 70 years ago by blatant use of propaganda, fear tactics, and lies without any research to base a single claim much of what was being distributed as truth. That is just one case that has sneeked back into to our realm of discussion.
Much of what is on the www is not much diferent from anyother form of media. At least the www offers a vast amount of info to easily access whenever so inclined. It is just so hard to tell twhat is fact and what is hogwash that has been cited, sourced, and re written on other pages. Luckily Google will help us decipher what is truth.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: iDope

We know that humans conspire against other humans for personal gain and lie about it. We KNOW this and all of us have done it to some degree in our lifetimes. Makes it very easy to accept "alternative" explanations as plausible vs what the tv says reality is about a given subject or event. Rather simple.



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: seabhac-rua

I'm 99.99% convinced there are conspiracies in every layer of society, in every research subject, everywhere money is to be made,... Even us regulars partake in conspiracies in the broadest sense of the word. But that doesn't mean the world is run BY conspiracies or conspirators, and perhaps that's where a lot of people miss the ball, and rather than mock them as "conspiratards" maybe we should help them acquire a more complete view of things?



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:26 AM
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originally posted by: iDope
Luckily Google will help us decipher what is truth.


I liked your post, but... this was irony right?



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:30 AM
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a reply to: iDope




“There are small truths and big truths, just as there are smal lies and big lies, and along those truths and lies run the questions that were never asked and those that were never answered.”
― R.J Ellory



posted on Mar, 15 2015 @ 11:30 AM
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originally posted by: Aliensun

This exercise in demonstrating a universal mindset of "I, we, know better for you pitiful, little folks," is well understood by those of us having had UFO experiences that defy the common consensus of the herds that march through levels of "higher education" and attack us with framed notices on their walls verifying their validity to "know better."


Indeed. The entire point of the article seems to be that he has a degree hanging on his wall, so he must be smarter than everyone else. The only thing that piece of paper proves is that they had access to printing equipment. The use of a fictional character, one that has been judged and found guilty before the dissertation even begins, shows not only a lack of critical thinking skill - it shows an inability, or at the very least a reluctance, to do any actual research.

I recall a man, supposedly a very wise one, that said everything in the universe could be deduced logically. Then someone dropped some stuff from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa and proved them wrong. That's all I see here, a continuation of Aristotle's flawed logic being applied to the realm of psychology, rather than physics.


originally posted by: iDope
Heres the linky to UK's Socrates
conspiracy theorists arent smart enough to believe the truth I believe


Mmm, that's some tasty sarcasm.



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