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 What IS a conspiracy theorist?

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PostSubject: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Thu Sep 18, 2008 6:33 pm

Hi all,

Jamie and I battled with what I would call 2 conspiracy theorists over the September 11 twin tower attack.

What I want to know is what do you guys think of when we say a 'conspiracy theorist'.

Have you seen any particular behaviour patterns?, do they ever change their minds?, Do they hide behind a 'no stance' neutral defence etc.

It would be excellent if we could find one definitive pattern of psychology to catch all, however I doubt all of them will follow all the patterns all of the time.

I know in my recent debate as soon as I challenged his evidence with counter evidence the Ad Hominems came thick and fast.

What did throw me a curve ball was the fact he quoted a poet from ww1 Which to me has no relevance to terrorist attacks in 2001! Maybe im missing something.

Telling me to know my history, surely science was more fitting.

It was interesting anything that supported him in even the flimsiest way was true in his eyes, I laughed when he countered my evidence with Quote: 'Codswallop'. A most excellent counter argument I am sure you agree lol!

Anyway I have read a lot on belief systems but not on conspiracy theories and Im sure at some point Jamie will pop in and put a more insightful slat on the beliefs and psychology of a conspiracy theorist Smile

Regards,

Den.

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PostSubject: Re: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:24 pm

Quote :
Do they hide behind a 'no stance' neutral defence etc.

This has got to be a classic example of a technique used by pseudosceptics. By doing this they side-step without properly acknowledging the information that has countered their original argument. It can further imply that the sceptic is actually the unreasonable believer.

Quote :
What did throw me a curve ball was the fact he quoted a poet from ww1 Which to me has no relevance to terrorist attacks in 2001! Maybe im missing something.

Nope, a variation on the red herring I feel. Many mystical believers fall back on philosophy etc. when they are caught out trying to use pseudoscience to back up their extraordinary claims. This particularly annoyed me as literature is one of my passions and I hate seeing good writers having their words twisted towards a cause. There are apt analogies for Orwell's prediction of the future without using his works as a conduit for paranoia.

Quote :
Telling me to know my history, surely science was more fitting.

Yes and no. I do agree with you on the specific point, where he was using history as a sidestep technique. However, he should have checked his history. Of course there have been conspiracies and they continue to this day. There are murder mysteries too, but few resemble anything like the plot of an Agatha Christie novel. What we know about conspiracies in history actually teaches us not to believe in the existance of detailed and complex conspiracies. It is because I love history that con-theos get my goat more than virtually any other type of believer. They propagate "Bad History". It is a cardinal sin - and it has been committed by the most learned - to dismiss the wider picture in favour of nit-picking details.

As for the psychology. It is a very interesting area. Paranoia is obviously at the root of those who start off a conspiracy theory, but I am not so sure about all the followers. Some have that predisposition to simply believe in any alternative theory. Others are attracted to the excitement associated with it - a bit like a cryptozoologist or many New Age advocates. There is also the kudos associated with being "the person in the know" and I am sure many enjoy being the centre of attention by having this "controversial view".
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PostSubject: Re: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:10 pm

Quote: but I am not so sure about all the followers. Some have that predisposition to simply believe in any alternative theory. Others are attracted to the excitement associated with it - a bit like a cryptozoologist or many New Age advocates. There is also the kudos associated with being "the person in the know" and I am sure many enjoy being the centre of attention by having this "controversial view".

I think what you were perhaps trying to say is people 'need' to belong to something, anything!

Football fans, Goths, Punks, Con Theo's, Sceptics, etc. Everyone at a deep level needs to belong to something, they need a handle to get hold of.

For the fringe of society Conspiracy Theories can be a big pull as described by Jamie in last post. For me as a sceptic is because I enjoyed reading popular science but wasn't perhaps clued up enough to join any particular science club.

But as a sceptic applying the scientific method I can join a friendly group that have no pretensions, genuinel try to help others, share the same interests and simply apply critical thinking to the more controversial views available.

For those reasons I elieve people join the conspiracy movements, but again that in my opinion is only one piece of the puzzle. To get a fuller picture I feel you need to draw on History, neuroscience, psychology, Sociology and likely other disciplines,

regards,

Den.

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PostSubject: Re: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:03 pm

Hmmmm..... good question.

Personally, I see a conspiracy theorist or theorists, as people who generally have a fantasy prone personality, and an innate fear of their government. Most of those people, seem to lack the necessary critical thinking skills, and scientific information. And without these, anything becomes possible. Just look at that whole moon landing farce. They need to find "a reason" for something unexplained or evil. Just like our ghost busting friends.

"It cant be scientific, it must be something unearthly......".

As you guys also pointed out it "sets" them apart from the rest of us drones. So they begin to feel special, and that they have "secret knowledge", that only a very few elite people possess.

When you life is boring, people need to gravitate to something. For some people it's golf, for others it's beating the crap out of pads. Smile But for some other loons who are predisposed, or "hard wired". They are simply drawn to conspiracies, ghosts, big foot. Basically it's simply a case of, "insert nonsense here", whatever that may be.

I also think religion has a major part to play. Especially in these"end times". So everything bad is pointing to the dreaded "Armageddon".

Rob.

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PostSubject: Re: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:18 pm

P
Quote :
ersonally, I see a conspiracy theorist or theorists, as people who generally have a fantasy prone personality, and an innate fear of their government. Most of those people, seem to lack the necessary critical thinking skills, and scientific information. And without these, anything becomes possible. Just look at that whole moon landing farce. They need to find "a reason" for something unexplained or evil. Just like our ghost busting friends.

Yes, you and I have discussed this area before on the "Red Flags" thread you started. Con- theos were pretty much what I had in mind then. I do think that some enjoy the attention, however, of having a "controversial view" and I noted an additional predisposition for being outright argumentative. I've have met the type in many different guises and sometimes being a con-theo is just part of that "undergraduate/down-the-pub" type of arguer.
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PostSubject: Re: What IS a conspiracy theorist?   Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:38 am

I love PCT's for the simple fact you know when you have one because they often have no stance and if you put an opposing opinion the Hominem attacks are thick and fast.

Just keep telling the they are using hominems and please stick to the evidence, see how wound up they get Twisted Evil

Regards,

Den.

Reminds me of when I was writing on a dawkins thread and some bible basher resorted to saying science is philosophy!

When I pointed out the difference between the two he went away Smile

Regards,

Den.

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