Post Reply Why we're prone to believe conspiracy theories
Posted 12/6/16 , edited 12/7/16
Origin of Source
Site: New Scientist
Title: "Seeing reason: How to change minds in a ‘post-fact’ world"
Source: Link Here

Additional Source/Article
Site: Scientific American
Title: "Why Do Some People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?"
Source: Link Here

Note: I am aware that the credentials of those who wrote these articles are not strictly scientific and there is a likelihood of bias. This is more so a discussion about the logical understanding as to why people believe in conspiracy theories.
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I received this week's New Scientist yesterday and noticed this article. Considering some of the on-going threads in General Discussion, I thought it was a great read - many of these things I've known beforehand, others were just confirmation (in a manner of speaking). I sometimes wonder why we're becoming more and more prone to believe in conspiracy theories, as a species (not just as a nation). Internationally, more and more people are beginning to fall into the lure of theories that are gathered through analysis that is riddled with discrepancies and based primarily on confirmation bias.

I've noticed that many of our responses (who do not believe or trust these conspiracy theories/thoughts) are first to question the sanity or knowledge of the individual. I try to avoid doing this, as I feel it's usually a result of an individual not performing enough root cause analysis on the entire investigation and not their lack of capacity to understand the information in front of them.


“The most numerate people are better at distorting the data to fit their beliefs.”


This is a quote from the New Scientist article that seems to make the most sense to me. I know that I don't post too much about myself on Crunchyroll (other than my job), but I also have a Master's degree in Mathematics. I've noticed while working at a think tank for political analysis in Washington DC for a while that there are plenty of people who are brilliant in the field of Mathematics that can very easily manipulate or observe numerical data with a bias. It's not that they're stupid, but it's the idea that when you can interpret numbers in such a varied way (much like someone interpreting images or written/verbal words differently) you can misinterpret them even easier.


“Both conservatives and liberals are prone to accept conspiracy theories that make the other side look bad,” says Miller. But she has also found that conservatives, especially those who are knowledgeable about politics but distrust mainstream authorities, are most likely to endorse conspiracy theories.


Many of the conspiracy theories that we're faced with in the modern day are those that stem from periods where the mainstream reported that a particular political side was failing (however, as we all know, Trump and the Republicans won this last election pretty heavily). With the theory that the electoral college is inept/corrupted, it backs the principle that the article states in the quote above. Many of those who even post here, on Crunchyroll, have the same mentality as expressed in the above quote: distrust of mainstream authorities, have a firm understanding as to how politics function as a whole, and they do endorse conspiracy theories more than the masses.

I believe that we'll see more Democrats (in the United States) or liberals on the International level begin to question things; the tides will turn and the liberals will become the "conspiracy theorists" after some time. That is, of course, if the research done to back the main article is proved to be correct. People don't want to trust or believe that the "rest of the country/world" has a mainstream opinion that differs from their own - the easiest thing to sell is corruption. It's harder to convince someone that "those people are all wrong" than it is to convince them that "all of those people are corrupted".

So what are your thoughts? Do you think we're just prone to believe conspiracy theories because we're misinterpreting data in front of us and because we're on the losing side of a political divide? Studies (so far) indicate that those embrace/endorse conspiracy theories aren't stupid; if anything, they're knowledgeable enough to understand the data in front of them - just interpret in a magnitude of ways.
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Posted 12/6/16
You didn't hear it from me but...
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Posted 12/6/16 , edited 12/6/16

Why we're prone to believe conspiracy theories


Because we don't trust what the main stream media and the government are telling us anymore. We've caught them lying to us, and they have ruined their credibility. We turn to alternatives for answers, and the answers fit with the lies the main stream media and the government have been doing. So, we surmise that the "conspiracy theories" have some weight.

Most "conspiracy theories" turn out to be harmlessly false, but a few turn out to be true. This leaves us in a position of not being able to discount any "conspiracy theory" without first exhaustively investigating it, first.
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Posted 12/6/16
I just want all the conspiracy theory (really more conspiracy hypothesis, but whatever) bullshit to end. When it's a few dumb people on reddit talking about the government all being alien lizards and shit that's whatever, but now these people are bringing back measles and threatening the careers of innocent public figures (well... innocent of the allegations these people are levelling against them, anyway) and that just isn't okay. This shit needs to stop.
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Posted 12/6/16
I think that, as we are absolutely inundated with facts both real and imagined, it's difficult for people to actually know what happened, is happening, or will happen. So what they do 'research' tends to be things that they already 'know' to be true, and they actively disregard anything that doesn't agree with them. It's not so much you convincing them that 'all those people are wrong', but you needing to convince the person that they themselves are wrong, you are wrong, or maybe both. An overwhelmingly difficult task, all said and done.

Yes, it's easiest to convince people that people in power are corrupted, because those people see themselves as 'pure', and pure people really want to know that anyone they disagree with is not only wrong, but evil. That way they feel both superior and better about themselves as a person.
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Posted 12/6/16
Because we want to believe that there is something that will question logic.

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Minsc 
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DeadlyOats wrote:Most "conspiracy theories" turn out to be harmlessly false, but a few turn out to be true. This leaves us in a position of not being able to discount any "conspiracy theory" without first exhaustively investigating it, first.


I agree with this. Also, "conspire" is one of those words I no longer see has wholly bad. While people can conspire to do bad things, they can also conspire to do good things. Basically, a group of people planning a fundraiser for a charity together are conspiring. They are all working together toward a common goal. For one reason or another, conspiracy today seems to have come to represent something being bogus. More often than not I'd say conspiracy theories are not wholly true but within them is truth.
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Posted 12/6/16
I don't normally believe conspiracy theorists but after my ufo sighting in 97 I been left alone to figure out what I saw the last time I checked the us air force does not build aircraft carriers that move very slowly in the sky and have near silent propulsion drive and given its shape I doubt it had any radar signature for both civilian and military radar if it did it was so small it probably didn't get noticed. Until you seen one you don't know what it does to people and how it can effect them for the rest of their lives afterwards and there is really no place to go afterwards where one can get help
Posted 12/6/16

DeadlyOats wrote:
Because we don't trust what the main stream media and the government are telling us anymore. We've caught them lying to us, and they have ruined their credibility. We turn to alternatives for answers, and the answers fit with the lies the main stream media and the government have been doing. So, we surmise that the "conspiracy theories" have some weight.

Most "conspiracy theories" turn out to be harmlessly false, but a few turn out to be true. This leaves us in a position of not being able to discount any "conspiracy theory" without first exhaustively investigating it, first.


I agree that a significant amount of information from mainstream media, as well as the government, has begun to be blurred between what's really happening and what they're trying to convience the individual to believe is happening. Because of this, their credibility has come into question. Though, I'd still be hard-pressed to surmise that "conspiracy theories" have some weight without extensive investigation (which follows your last statement). The only thing that bothers me is when people jump to conclusions based off of little to no evidence to back their claims; even when attempting to follow the rabbit hole down to the "root cause" - they only rely on information that others have concluded, which kind of pollutes the logical conclusion that they've reached (to a degree).

I don't trust "new mainstream" media either (like INFO WARS) just because there's a heavy bias and they're quick to spread false news/information because there's an inkling that something is amidst - only to spread it like wildfire as factual, without others taking the time to investigate or add to the "investigation" as a whole.


octorockandroll wrote:

I just want all the conspiracy theory (really more conspiracy hypothesis, but whatever) bullshit to end. When it's a few dumb people on Reddit talking about the government all being alien lizards and shit that's whatever, but now these people are bringing back measles and threatening the careers of innocent public figures (well... innocent of the allegations these people are levelling against them, anyway) and that just isn't okay. This shit needs to stop.


While I agree with DeadlyOats in the sense that there are scenarios where the media has lied to us (as well as the government), I do think that people are quick to jump down the rabbit hole without any self-analysis. I mean this in the sense that rather than focusing on learning/understanding the material of the so-called "conspiracy theory" that they simply rely on another person's statement about it (regardless of how true or not it may be). There are some "theories" that are too far-fetched; like how the government is filled with "lizard people" and that those who are not "lizard people" actually came from the moon and have been battling the lizard people for generations (yes, I've actually heard this one - seriously, wtf?).

Without any self-evidence or investigation, people run the risk of simply being too trusting of another pair of eyes other than their own. Much like people who have such a strong conviction towards the whole "pizzagate" thing, trusting a few photoshops and a short trail of breadcrumbs will land you into a realm without accepting any evidence that states the contrary. This happens with a lot of conspiracy theories. People actually chose to believe because of misinterpreted information; which is due to the mistrust from sources that have said contrary ("if so many mainstream media sites/news shows indicate this is fake, then it's clearly a cover-up" kind of thing).


Minsc wrote:
I agree with this. Also, "conspire" is one of those words I no longer see has wholly bad. While people can conspire to do bad things, they can also conspire to do good things. Basically, a group of people planning a fundraiser for a charity together are conspiring. They are all working together toward a common goal. For one reason or another, conspiracy today seems to have come to represent something being bogus. More often than not I'd say conspiracy theories are not wholly true but within them is truth.


I have no issue with those who want to investigate these theories or thoughts, it's just that some people are quick to assume the worst without said investigation. Then it spreads like fire. People take it all as factual evidence and begin to take matters into their own hands because someone ignores their reports (because they do not contain enough evidence to build a legal claim against them). Conspiring isn't the issue, it's the fact that there's not much more beyond speculation. With more people being prone to believing falsified information that aligns with their opinions, we're going to see more and more conspiracy theories out there that were based on misinterpreted data.

Because of the usage of "conspiracies" in the past twenty or so years, it's gained a negative connotation. When you mention "conspiracy theory" most people assume you're talking about tinfoil hats and the government testing on humans to create X-Men-ish mutants for the military. It's not so that conspiring together with your peers is a negative thing, just that sometimes it causes harm to those who are perfectly innocent (those not even remotely connected to the "thread" that the proclaimed "peer-based investigators" are accusing of being involved with said theory).
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