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Conspiracy theorists focussing on discrediting rather than proposing

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posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 08:33 AM
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Here's a little info I came across yesterday and thought others may find it interesting.

It's an article from the British Psychological Society enitled Conspiracy theorists are more focused on discrediting official accounts than proposing their own which proposes that conspiracy theorists are more driven by their general mistrust of authority than they are by their own accounts and theories, according to an analysis of online comments on a popular news site.


Excluding contributions that were pure insults or just links to other sites, Michael Wood and Karen Douglas identified 2,174 relevant comments posted to ABC news, CNN, the Independent and the Daily Mail between July 1 and December 31 2011. The comments were made by 1,156 different authors; 1,459 were coded as conspiracist, written mainly by people who follow the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement, and 715 as conventionalist.

Conventionalist comments more often (56 per cent) contained information that supported their own position as compared with conspiracist comments (31 per cent). By contrast, conspiracist comments were more likely (64 per cent) to contain derogation of opposing explanations, as compared with conventionalist comments (44 per cent). Moreover, conspiracist comments more often signalled mistrust (10.6 per cent vs. 1.4 per cent). On the other hand, conventionalist comments were significantly more hostile in tone. Finally, neither side appeared happy applying the term "conspiracy theory" or derivatives to their own beliefs, suggesting the label has acquired derogatory connotations.



The researchers said their results also fit with the related idea that many conspiracists share a similar worldview - "a belief system conducive to conspiracy beliefs in general." Characterised by mistrust, this perspective is often focused on finding anomalies in official accounts and assuming they are unexplainable. "For many conspiracists, there are two worlds," said Wood and Douglas, "one real and (mostly) unseen, the other a sinister illusion meant to cover up the truth; and the evidence against the latter is evidence for the former."


It's based on a research article by Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas entitled “What about building 7?” A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories in which they also state that

Finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. These tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations.


There is also a post relating to his work by Mike Wood on his Psychology of Conspiracy theories website : What does online discussion tell us about the psychology of conspiracy theories?

This result agrees with our theory that belief in conspiracy theories can be more accurately characterised as a disbelief in official or received explanations – that the content of the conspiracy theory doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it opposes whatever the official explanation is. The focus is not on promoting an alternative explanation, but in debunking the official story.


Unfortunately I cannot seem to find any extensive information on Wood & Douglas' article, and it seems a bit brief to be the whole thing.

Anyway, I think this is a pretty interesting finding for a general consensus of conspiracy theorists online, one which doesn't actually surprise me in the least, especially after being subjected to the endless 'OMG that's so illuminati!' style comments on the likes of youtube.

I wonder if they will expand their research though, and consider how their findings might alter were they to analyse conspiracy centred sites such as ATS, compared to a more general overview of news sites. I also consider thier findings should they delve into the root cause of this general mistrust.
edit on 1-9-2013 by melancholiflower because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 08:36 AM
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It's easier to disprove official statements and accounts than to prove something that has many elements hidden to it. Sometimes by disproving things, you can bring other things to light.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 08:36 AM
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This also reminds me of a guy I listened to last year who was pointing out that regardless of whether people believed in conspiracy theories themselves or not, the underlying issue was the mistrust of the government and how it was easy to overlook this whilst focussing on conspiracy theorists being delusional.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 08:43 AM
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They can call it "mistrust" if they so choose, and they have. So be it. I can call it questioning.


Some of us do not take what our Government or others say at face value, especially when we have been lied to time and time again. I am a show me type person and if something doesn't add up via actions/words then it leaves questions. Who else can answer lurking questions within? YOU! Me! Us!

Being a researcher at heart, I have discovered many things I wish I wouldn't have. With that said, it is not solely because I do not trust.... It is because I QUESTION what's brought forth. I am not a blind follower. Many are turning away from blind leading the blind. I think it is because we are growing up! Facing the world for what it really is, not what we are told it is. Reality is a tricky thing.

The Government has a way of lying, this is evident through their actions. It seems the older I get, the worse they become. Is it me not trusting or me wanting to question the evidence? Maybe it is both, but the smell is the same.

Discrediting is only when there is substantial evidence to do so, otherwise one couldn't discredit.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 08:59 AM
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Duh, it's easier to find anomalies in the official accounts of things than to propose what really happened because the officials who fed us the BS are privy to the REAL FACTS, and the rest of us are left guessing and postulating
edit on 1-9-2013 by dashen because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 09:12 AM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


Well to this I would say, while there are some loony toon theories out there created by people who are clearly unhinged at least people are thinking for themselves. After one tosses out the crazy theories, there are actually some points people are making which are much more clear and driven by actual facts than what the spooks, suits and governments are trying to tell people is the truth.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 09:25 AM
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Originally posted by FlyersFan
It's easier to disprove official statements and accounts than to prove something that has many elements hidden to it. Sometimes by disproving things, you can bring other things to light.


Exactly, and why wouldn't CT try to disprove the governments official story first? For one thing these stories are usually full of holes and easy to pick apart so to ignore them and come up with your own theory is a huge mistake. To discredit the government only opens new doors to other explanations.

Can I say the OP's article has shill written all over it to discredit CT's?

edit on 1-9-2013 by Swills because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 09:30 AM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


So we are the bad guys and the gov guys are the good guys and we shoudn't doubt all they tell us is true.

Our job is not to "propose" anything.

We are here to make it harder for them to BS the people, that's all.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 10:31 AM
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I agree with the basic premise. I just agree with it in a different manner. First and foremost,

Excluding contributions that were pure insults or just links to other sites, Michael Wood and Karen Douglas identified 2,174 relevant comments posted to ABC news, CNN, the Independent and the Daily Mail between July 1 and December 31 2011.
Why not throw Yahoo links in there as well? In my opinion, you're taking a sample from which the general commentator has little to no knowledge of the subject manner that they're commenting on. I don't know about anyone else, but when I read the comment strings on these sites I come away not very impressed with the overall substance of the commentary. Second,2174 "relevant" comments from at least four major news sites over a six month period? Anyone ever notice these comment strings can go on for thousands of replies? Sounds a little easy to cherry pick certain data to fit a narrative given.Third,

Conventionalist comments more often (56 per cent) contained information that supported their own position as compared with conspiracist comments (31 per cent). By contrast, conspiracist comments were more likely (64 per cent) to contain derogation of opposing explanations, as compared with conventionalist comments (44 per cent). Moreover, conspiracist comments more often signalled mistrust (10.6 per cent vs. 1.4 per cent). On the other hand, conventionalist comments were significantly more hostile in tone.
Once again, refer back to my first and second points. I could go on and on with this but 'll stop for the sake of brevity.I find it insulting to be linked with a group of commentators who have a very limited understanding of the subject manner of which they speak.Now on to why I agree with the basic premise, It's my opinion that the research can come to a conclusion that conspiracy analysis is not based off of any relevant facts because when you omit facts that are relevant you won't be left with any substance other than discredidation and nonsensical positions. It's called deligitimization by omission. You just completely omit any facts that contradict the general consensus. Just ignore them all together. If its not there than it doesn't existI'll use the set of events involving the Syrian chemical attacks as an example. In the early summer the Turkish government raided a location where individuals linked to the FSA via Al-Nursa, and found sarin gas in their possession. This fact has been completely omitted from the narrative.The reason this is done is the moment you accept certain facts, you begin to assign conscience intent. Certain entities can no longer be considered reactionary forces, but rather active participants in how events unfold.
edit on 1-9-2013 by GD21D because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 10:42 AM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


To classify everyone who challenges official narratives as 'conspiracy theorists' diminishes the legitimacy of investigative journalism. Maybe that is the intent, I don't know.

I think journalism isn't defined by who gets a paycheck as Diane Feinstein would have you believe. However, those who quote official statements aren't always towing the line. We do need to hear what the official account is. We shouldn't shoot the messenger.

Conspiracy theorists, as I would define them, do have a specific alternate (perhaps fictional) narrative. They are therefore not journalists at all.

Conventionalists (is this a new term I hadn't heard of before?), by the language of this thread, seems to be anyone who does not question the official narrative. They are also not journalists.

We should all be suspicious of anyone who makes sweeping statements from any perspective. Staying informed is an activity, not a destination.

Have I have read into this too much?



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 10:45 AM
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Propaganda in the pursuit of labeling critical thinkers "insane". You know it's coming. State-Paranoia Syndrome. They'll use it as an excuse to forcibly disarm, incarcerate, and drug you.

They keep saying we're crazy but we keep being right. That little nugget of truth seems to get overlooked in these psychological analyses of CTs. I wonder why...



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 11:30 AM
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Focusing on anything is bad.

When you're at a party standing around awkwardly focusing on your awkward behaviour then things get worse. But when someone calls you over to dance and you join in, you discover life is just alright.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 11:52 AM
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What does one do when the system in which they actually find themselves within is inherently corrupted by those in positions of authority?

And I find that assumption rather unreasonable. Just like any other area in life, in the conspiracy world, you need to contend with misinformation, disinformation, obfuscation and lies as you search for truth.

If you take the time to read through some 9/11 articles questioning the official account of that day, for example, you will find that they are insightful, logical and reasonable theories.

Just like any group you cannot say "all CTs are the same". There will be those with different agendas and reasons for challenging the official account of events.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 01:46 PM
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reply to post by MamaJ

Good point. Though I do think the labelling with mistrust is pretty fair as it doesn't seem healthy to have a large portion of people mistrusting those that govern them - and pretty forcefully at that. I wonder if their original hypothesis was to center around those questioning the government and those not, if their findings would've been different. It's sometimes easy to overlook semantics I guess, from a reader's pov.

However, now you mention it the use of the word mistrust in itself is pretty odd and makes me wonder why they avoided using distrust.


Distrust and mistrust are roughly the same. Both mean (1) lack of trust or (2) to regard without trust . But distrust is often based on experience or reliable information, while mistrust is often a general sense of unease toward someone or something. For example, you might distrust the advice of someone who has given you bad tips in the past, and you might mistrust advice from a stranger.


So by saying the comments are derived from a mistrust of the government are they coining authorities as some unknown that conspiracy theorists have an inability to trust, rather than it being distrust of a known that has been found to repeatedly lie in the past?

This also brings me to question the shill aspect Swills brought up. Especially given that this guy is part of a blog focused on the psychology of conspiracy. I remain open minded though as i'm insatiably intrigued by the psych of anything.
 


reply to post by GD21D
Yeah I found the chosen content an odd choice, though I wonder if it's attempting to study the average joe outlook rather than actual conspiracy theorists. It's an odd one anyway. As for the number of, in their defense, they do say they cut out insulting posts and other such stuff somewhere.
 


reply to post by greencmp
Though i'm sure that was a rhetorical question, i'm gunna answer no, I don't think you have read into this too much. This is the stuff going round the british psych society, and the more I think about it the more I think it should definitely be read into some more. And it does seem very sweeping, like I state above, I couldn't actually find much information where their supposed article was, which is odd. The article that was their was smaller than either of the two that spoke about it...
 



NthOther
Propaganda in the pursuit of labeling critical thinkers "insane".

Like they did with Lauryn Hill? Also, hasn't it been standard to label these thinkers insane? I'm sure Abbott's flatland contains a satirical outlook on a very similar thing.
edit on 1-9-2013 by melancholiflower because: (no reason given)


(sorry all for the reply format, don't intend to do any include/exclude business (though i'm sure non of you are as sensitive as that lol)... still getting used to this forum. don't think my online social skills are any better than outdoor social skills)
edit on 1-9-2013 by melancholiflower because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 01:54 PM
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Rather than conventionalist... coincidence theorist?


"Conspiracy" Theories vs. "Coincidence" Theories by John Judge

OK. You can call me a Conspiracy Theorist if you call everyone else a Coincidence Theorist. But n-o-o-o-o, only conspiracies are "theories", well. that and Evolution. Ya, right, if this is Intelligent Design, what is a BAD idea?

I keep seeing all these so-called journalists barking at Conspiracy Theorists who think anything the government or the rich do could be less than benign. You might get away with criticizing the government for stupidity or incompetence, but if you even hint at intent or intelligent design on their part, you¹re ONE OF THEM --­ a Conspiracy Theorist!



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 01:59 PM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


Yeah I agree with what you said. It is a mistrust or distrust, however I played with another word, "questioning".

To question everything is to not trust ?? or not follow blindly just because someone says it's so ?? until investigated personally? It's a play on words just as statistics is a play on numbers.

I think had I researched it myself the outcome would have been different. lol

Im making my own head spin.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 05:02 PM
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reply to post by MamaJ
 


hey, the world's a dizzy place


thinking about what you say about questioning, it's a funny one. I've been mentally relating it down to a more individuistic level, and i'd be more likely to question someone i didn't trust. however, thinking further there are still times i'll question the information i receive from those I do trust.

likewise I will repeatedly question myself - not through lack of trust but for aims of higher understanding.

it's a funny one. especially since the ones claiming mistrust leave me mistrusting their use of mistrust... spin spin sugar lol.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 05:27 PM
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It's one thing to question authority...

What irks me is that whenever something bad happens, these days you will always see ppl on the internet that cry: 'black op!'... 'black op!'...

And it doesn't have to be just something in the US... Like all governments of the world are trying to destroy their own countries.

There's something sick about always jumping to that conclusion. I mean... lighten up man.

ETA: There is also the tendency- which I've seen personally, for certain people to talk bad about their government. It's a form of one-sided bullying. It's as if they have in their minds: "well if I can disparage the government, or someone pivotal in government, then that makes me higher than the government or that pivotal person in government, and consequently they are now lower". It's kind of a self-esteem booster.... like I said, kind of like a bully. The mental process they use is more a subconscious one rather than a conscious one... It's not really a rational process. It's more an emotional one. Therefore it's hard to really have a rational discussion w/them about 'hot topics'.

ETA, again... and like a bully, who acts a certain way- thinking that he's rational... Everybody else sees him truly for who he is. The only person he is fooling is himself.

This is why I normally shy away from political threads.


edit on 1/9/2013 by MarkJS because: (no reason given)

edit on 1/9/2013 by MarkJS because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 05:43 PM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


hahaha! I was wondering if you could get my train of thought... and you did.


There are many instances whereas my mom will tell me something. I trust my mom. I consider her very smart and well educated. Her core belief system is different though. She as an individual is different than I. Although I trust her she never the less has a different mind set as me, just as each person does.

I trust to an extent, myself included, but when it doesn't feel right, or look right, or smell right, or is just down right weirding (is that a word?) me out for some reason, I may question to the very root of the subject.

To me, this above is natural. It's being human, UNLESS you are a blind follower being lead all your life in every instance on the matter.



posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 11:00 PM
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I think the statistical conclusion was very poor on this, as it completely ignores an elephant-sized confounding factor: that data reviewed were in fact COMMENTS. Which is to say, they were "reactive" to something which was very likely an article about or including "an official story." So of course the comments are going to be, in huge majority, more about disputing an official story, than presenting another. Also, presenting an entire suggested alternate theory for something is a) normally done in full posts on one's own blog/forum/whatever, and b) very seldom can fit into -- nor is it appropriate -- in a comment post.



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