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Conspiracy Theorists

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by white rabbit, Oct 5, 2008.

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  1. white rabbit

    white rabbit Guest

    I've noticed that many users here seem to fall prey to conspiracy theories. I feel that it's important to first better understand the mind states of these people. We need to speak with them in a friendly manner that encourages learning and healing - not engage in their intended arguments and attack their beliefs - which only serves to switch them to a defensive mode, fueling their desires to retreat even further from reality.

    The goal of this thread is to begin exploring and discussing the psychology behind conspiracy theorists with the hope that they'll be better understood, and that users here will begin to change approaches in dealing with these types of people. Please share your personal insight or any relevant information on the topic and potential strategies for helping victims.

    "Ted Goertzel identified three traits as being correlated with a belief in conspiracy theories:

    * anomia, the respondent stated a belief that he/she felt alienated or disaffection relative to “the system;”
    * a tendency to distrust other people; and
    * a feeling of insecurity regarding continued employment."

    "Citing Volkan, who suggested that insecure and/or discontented people very often feel a need for a tangible enemy on which to externalize their anger, Goertzel notes that conspiracy theories may serve to provide an 'enemy' to blame for problems which 'otherwise seem too abstract and impersonal.' He further observes that conspiracy theories also provide ready answers for the believer’s unanswered questions and help to resolve contradictions between known ‘facts’ and an individual's belief system."

    "Successful conspiracy theories are those that to some degree empower the believer against what are perceived as external forces that he/she blames for some unpleasant or undesirable facet of their lives. In addition conspiracy theories serve to absolve the individual of some degree of self-accountability since, if the individual is being 'oppressed' by some powerful conspiracy, the individual’s efforts at self-advancement will always be futile and thus become nothing more than 'a waste of time.'"


    "In Chaotic Logic, Benjamin Goertzel (forthcoming) develops a mathematical model of belief systems as part of a larger model of the structure and evolution of intelligence (B. Goertzel, 1993a, 1993b). In this model, he shows that belief systems can be characterized as dialogical or monological. Dialogical belief systems engage in a dialogue with their context, while monological systems speak only to themselves, ignoring their context in all but the shallowest respects. This mathematical model quantifies the philosophical distinction between the 'open' and 'closed' mind."

    "Conspiratorial beliefs are useful in monological belief systems since they provide an easy, automatic explanation for any new phenomenon which might threaten the belief system. In a monological belief system, each of the beliefs serves as evidence for each of the other beliefs. The more conspiracies a monological thinker believes in, the more likely he or she is to believe in any new conspiracy theory which may be proposed."

  3. Dave_N

    Dave_N Guest

    Conspiracy theories are fun to discuss, but are probably mostly false. Still they sure are fun to discuss.
  4. -sigh-

    -sigh- Guest

    Exactly. And why should we spend all the effort to think for ourselves - to acquire knowledge in careful, logical steps when we can just have some self-proclaimed "expert" to magically provide all the answers for us in a nicely packaged Hollywood style grand theory?
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