reply to post by blowfishdl
I assure you that I do not feel personally insulted by either ABC's coverage or your posts.
I tend to be an "open-minded skeptic" here – pretty much the only "conspiracy" that we talk about here that I fully embrace is that the public
is lied to sometimes by the government and media.
And yes, I really do mean to argue that it is possible no additional delusional belief or behavior is caused by conspiracy websites – that the
people who do have delusions fleshed out by things they read on the internet would have delusions no matter what – just different delusions.
"Common sense" seems to be the only thing your argument is based on, and "common sense" is notoriously unreliable in scientific matters. Mostly, I
just wanted to point that out. Thinking something seems obvious to you does not make it true.
One interesting question that psychologists and neurologists are working on now is, given that the definition of a delusion is basically just a belief
that is not shared by a community, can we still define UFO abduction scenarios, mind control victimization, etcetera as "delusional" if communities
are being formed on the internet around belief in these concepts.
'Mind control' experiences on the internet (abstract)
And note, this entire discussion is assuming that the conspiracies are delusions. No doubt some of them are (for one thing, some conspiracy theories
are mutually exclusive), but it is equally certain that conspiracies do exist.
Some schizophrenics hear voices, but not everyone who hears voices is schizophrenic.
Here's a quote from the second page of the ABC article:
MacDonald cautioned that not everyone who believes in a conspiracy plot is mentally ill. They just may be suggestible or just suspicious of
For the healthy in mind, MacDonald said, "it's a wild card about whether this is going to improve people's state or not. It may turn out that the
value of the community is greater than the destructive nature of the narratives that are spun out of them.
"But on the same point, this is a domain that didn't need more wild cards," he added.
Whether or not conspiracy theories harm people who are susceptible to mental illness is a matter of debate among psychiatrists.
"Most people with major mental illness don't believe in conspiracy theories," said Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance of
ABC decided to focus on the testimony of Dr. MacDonald, who admits that it's possible online conspiracy communities provide more benefit than danger,
but still thinks they're bad because they're "wildcards", instead of researchers like Dr. Duckworth, who points out that the sort of conspiracy
theories you find online are not the same kinds that you typically find in schizophrenic delusions.
In other words, the impact of conspiracy sites on the mentally unstable is unclear, and "common sense" is not the best way to try and figure it out.