In the medical journal Applied Cognitive Psychology
, Volume 24, Issue 6, Psychologists Viren Swami, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, and Adrian Furnham
published an article explaining the psychological anatomy of they types of person who would reject all empirical evidence and support alternative
scenarios (specifically involving the 9/11 attack) regardless of the complete absence of evidence or logic. Their findings are...
a) One of the major predictors of conspiracy theorism is the belief in other conspiracies in addition to 9/1 conspiracies. To quote Swami and
colleagues: "believing that John F. Kennedy was not killed by a lone gunman or that the Apollo moon landings were staged increases the chances that
an individual will also believe 9-11 conspiracy theories." People build a consistent world view. For these conspiracy theorists, their consistent
world view is that the truth is always being covered up. Although this may seem like an obvious finding in retrospect, this didn't have to be true.
People could have picked their conspiracy theories based on their political views - then these notions would not have all hung together. But no,
people who believe some conspiracy theories are more likely to accept additional conspiracy theories for the simple fact that it conforms with their
view of the world.
b) The personalities of those who accept such conspiracy ideas regardless of the complete lack of any evidence whatsoever have common characteristics,
defined according to Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. For example, openness, as defined by the authors,
defines how a person accepts new experiences and information, and their findings show that conspiracy theorists have a higher degree of openness to
new experiences and thought patterns than others. People who display Openness to Experience are considered intellectually curious, open-minded, and
creative. But sometimes being open to creative, unusual ideas may introduce naive information processing mechanisms and lead people to accept unusual
ideas in similarly unusual ways. For example, someone who believes the 9/11 attack was staged by a clandestine organization of Satan worshippers
would be more likely to accept circular logic and interpret the lack of any evidence as being a coverup by these same Satan worshippers, despite the
lack of any evidence for this, either.
c) Interesting enough, agreeableness was negatively related to belief in 9-11 conspiracy theories. People who are less agreeable were more accepting
of 9-11 conspiracy theories, as people who score low on agreeableness are generally more likely to have higher skepticism and be more suspicious about
other people's motives.
d) The general conspiracy theory belief scale was predicted by other factors - in particular, cynicism and a rejection of the political system. Those
who hold political beliefs that involve extreme cynicism of the system would instinctively lead them to disbelieve any explanation that the system
The entire article, written by highly educated professionals in their fields, can be reviewed here:
Applied Cognitive Psychology article
In short, this article supports everything I have been stating, namely...
First, people who subscribe to these conspiracy theories generally subscribe to one or more other conspiracies. Once someone has built for themselves
a mechanism that allows them to accept alternative ideas that have no basis in critical analysis or emirical evidence, they can and will instinctively
use the mechanism to interpret other events, and due to the sheer enormity of the emotional impact of the 9/11 attack, it naturally becomes a obvious
target for conspiracy theorism.
Second, it is their natural skepticism and suspicion of other people's motives that leads the conspiracy theorists to go to these damned fool
conspiracy web sites shovelling out these conspiracy claims to begin with, and it is their skepticism and suspicion of other people's motives along
with their openness to accept unusual ideas that leads them to accept these conspiracy claims that have little basis in fact.
Third, which is the most important observation of all, the conspiracy theorists aren't subscribing to these conspiracy claims out of any real
consideration of any evidence. They subscribe to these conspiracy claims simply because they want to believe they are true, as they serve as an
emotional outlet for their own antiestablishment outlook on life.
I invite comments from both sides of the conspiracy aisle for their thoughts. After all, this is the work of published psychologists Viren Swami,
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, and Adrian Furnham, not mine.