Psychologists Find Conspiracy Theorists Share Common Traits


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I have excerpted some paragraphs from the article below. If you want a real hoot, read the comments at the bottom of the article, but not with a full mouth.

THE INNER WORLDS OF CONSPIRACY BELIEVERS

Those who subscribe to 9/11 conspiracy beliefs are generally suspicious and inquisitive, a new study suggests. By Bruce Bower June 20th, 2009; Vol.175 #13 (p. 11)

Shortly after terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center and mangled the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, conspiracy theories blossomed about secret and malevolent government plots behind the tragic events. A report scheduled to appear in an upcoming Applied Cognitive Psychology offers a preliminary psychological profile of people who believe in 9/11 conspiracies.

A team led by psychologist Viren Swami of the University of Westminster in London identified several traits associated with subscribing to 9/11 conspiracies, at least among British citizens. These characteristics consist of backing one or more conspiracy theories unrelated to 9/11, frequently talking about 9/11 conspiracy beliefs with likeminded friends and others, taking a cynical stance toward politics, mistrusting authority, endorsing democratic practices, feeling generally suspicious toward others and displaying an inquisitive, imaginative outlook.

“Often, the proof offered as evidence for a conspiracy is not specific to one incident or issue, but is used to justify a general pattern of conspiracy ideas,” Swami says.

His conclusion echoes a 1994 proposal by sociologist Ted Goertzel of Rutgers–Camden in New Jersey. After conducting random telephone interviews of 347 New Jersey residents, Goertzel proposed that each of a person’s convictions about secret plots serves as evidence for other conspiracy beliefs, bypassing any need for confirming evidence.

Goertzel says the new study provides an intriguing but partial look at the inner workings of conspiracy thinking. Such convictions critically depend on what he calls “selective skepticism.” Conspiracy believers are highly doubtful about information from the government or other sources they consider suspect. But, without criticism, believers accept any source that supports their preconceived views, he says.

“Arguments advanced by conspiracy theorists tell you more about the believer than about the event,” Goertzel says.

Conspiracy thinkers share an optimistic conviction that they can find “the truth,” spread it to the masses and foster social change, Goldberg asserts.

Over the past 50 years, researchers and observers of social dynamics have traced beliefs in conspiracy theories to feelings of powerlessness, attempts to bolster self-esteem and diminished faith in government.

Much as Swami’s team suspected, beliefs in 9/11 conspiracy theories were stronger among individuals whose personalities combined suspicion and antagonism toward others with intellectual curiosity and an active imagination.

A related, unpublished survey of more than 1,000 British adults found that 9/11 conspiracy believers not only often subscribed to a variety of well-known conspiracy theories, but also frequently agreed with an invented conspiracy. Christopher French of Goldsmiths, University of London, and Patrick Leman of Royal Holloway, University of London, both psychologists, asked volunteers about eight common conspiracy theories and one that researchers made up: “The government is using mobile phone technology to track everyone all the time.”

The study, still unpublished, shows that conspiracy believers displayed a greater propensity than nonbelievers to jump to conclusions based on limited evidence.

“It seems likely that conspiratorial beliefs serve a similar psychological function to superstitious, paranormal and, more controversially, religious beliefs, as they help some people to gain a sense of control over an unpredictable world,” French says.

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  • 10 years later...

So funny.

For the reader, Billyboy just now liked this ten year old post.

Some disturbing facts are being exposed today, including the arrest of Ed Buck, major Democrat fund raiser who murders young black men.

Billy consoles himself by searching out ten year old posts to like that speculate about the psychological nature of [truth-tellers.]

But he has no comment or likes for the news that yet another political leader from his side has turned out to be a murderous psychopath.

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