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Conspiracy Theories

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Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andy Kev. » 03 Dec 2021, 09:28

For the Mods: There is a danger that any discussion arising from this might veer close to politics, so I will understand if you decide to bin the thread.

I've just been on the comments bit of a newspaper website where someone has asserted that there is no covid pandemic whatsoever. Others said that it is all being wildly exaggerated simply so the establishment can have control over us.

My own view is that while the govt (indeed no govt) has handled it particularly well, they are probably doing their best and sometimes, being largely scientifically illiterate, get the emphasis wrong.

But what really interested me is how people can be so gullible for conspiracy theories. I suspect that most of the deniers are acting out of a mixture of fear, frustration, annoyance, egoism ("why should I?" syndrome) and scientific ignorance (which probably includes nearly everybody who is a victim of the modern British education system).

Why do you think that people don't want to get to the facts in order to come to credible views? Why are they so intellectually passive? Could it be due to conditioning as they wait to be fed the TV news every night?
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andyp » 03 Dec 2021, 09:37

I hope we can keep politics out of this.
Conspiracy theories have been around for ever I suspect. Propaganda is another form perhaps.

For me the answer is education education education and the fact that drink fuelled pub conversations said with a wink and smile are now aired to a global audience of badly educated people who do not pocess the wherewithal to know better.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Lons » 03 Dec 2021, 09:44

I certainly won't go anywhere near a politics discussion Andy but I'm not surprised in the slightest that so many people act like this, there is a proportion of the human race who still have webbed feet imo. Some of those I come across have no idea how to process information and are not remotely interested unless it hits them directly in the pocket or unless it's something posted on facebook which is considered fact however ridiculous the content.

Thick, gullible, disinterested, selfish, apathetic, maybe all of that and it's disheartening.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby novocaine » 03 Dec 2021, 10:07

There is a whole science behind the believe of conspiracy theory and it's well worth doing a bit a research on it. A lot of it comes down to wanting to believe that something happens because of some higher authority (aliens, politics, lizard people) rather than the simple fact that we are all, every single day, working our way through life as best we can.

yes, it's been around a lot longer than you may think. we just called it religion before.

not all of them revolve around high power control, flat earth doesn't, neither does moon landing but if you look to close at almost all of them, there is an element of this.

but just to clear it up, Elvis did work in a chippy near me, Lord Lucan is now dead and you have been injected with a tracker.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Sheffield Tony » 03 Dec 2021, 10:12

I think the top reason is that people don't want to believe it. Humans have a remarkable capacity to believe what they want to, without or despite evidence.

Another reason is that it has become the popular assumption that when a politician says something, the opposite is most likely true.

What defeats me is that conspiricy theorists believe "the system" is somehow capable of inventing and maintaining such a massive deception :lol:
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andy Kev. » 03 Dec 2021, 10:13

I thought Lord Lucan got the late Paul McCartney’s job!

FWIW I suspect that a lot of it comes from feeling impotent in terms of power structures. The best conspiracy theories are of course untestable. Then there are the ones like the JFK murder where you could, at least theoretically, find out what the facts are.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Robert » 03 Dec 2021, 10:34

I don't do social media but I know amusing stories etc get shared there. I found a site ages ago that presents those kind of stories so I do get to see anything interesting without being on facebook etc.

One story that caught my eye was on the subject of this thread and I found it interesting...

https://www.boredpanda.com/believing-in ... go-tiktok/

All comes down to ego. These people know something us 'sheeple' don't so they are better than us.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Blackswanwood » 03 Dec 2021, 11:44

A complex matter but my take is that:

Most people have an ability to spot illusory patterns - a shape we recognise made by flames or a face in the clouds. We might wonder fancifully about it but for some, possibly driven by mood and environment, this goes much wider and apparent connections are made between disparate events. If this coincides with undeveloped critical thinking skills (which need not be a sign of low intelligence) these thoughts quickly turn into beliefs. Add to this an inflated sense of an individuals intellectual competence, anxiety (displayed or hidden) and a sense of lack of control and the belief is quickly reinforced. Subsequent information is considered from a standpoint of justifying the original view (no critical thinking) and there is a warm feeling as I'm one of the clever one's who has spotted it (inflated sense of competence) and I've found others like me (sense of belonging) .... etc etc

In a world where we have the internet that gives a voice to these people and the more sinister who for nefarious purposes fuel the demand for intrigue (some of whom are state sponsored) we end up with what we have today.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Chris152 » 03 Dec 2021, 11:55

:text-goodpost:
Esp. the people with vested interests who deliberately feed such theories. Oh, hang on, that's a conspiracy theory in itself :-)
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Mike G » 03 Dec 2021, 12:13

This is the reason for conspiracy theories:

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby thetyreman » 03 Dec 2021, 22:19

I have noticed people are becoming less rational as time goes on, and find it very hard to distinguish fact from fiction, especially in the last 20 years or so.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby AJB Temple » 04 Dec 2021, 08:10

I've never been fully convinced by Bonhoeffer's theory of stupidity. Whilst the premise that stupidity is a societal factor seems appealing and explains why people follow powerful leaders seemingly without questioning their ideology, it seems illogical to me not also to consider the impact of intellect. Whilst it is true that clever people can behave stupidly, is it not also the case that people of low intellect are more likely to be easily led and less able to grasp unappealing concepts, such as injecting oneself with a disease in order to provide some immunity from that disease?

If we accept the general view that intellect is distributed through the population in a more or less symmetrical bell curve, and that 100 is the average measurable intellect, then half of the population will be below average. Near 70% of people fall within 15 points either side. Only 2% are above the 130 point. Whilst the majority of a population grouping might follow an established leadership (medical authorities or the government say) and thus accept vaccination either for intellectual reasons or because they are simply followers, inevitably some people will be attracted to leaders who for whatever reason espouse a different view. Empirical evidence will not overcome this if personal experience (however minor in the overall picture) or desire to believe / follow overcomes this.

One person's rational is another person's irrational.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andyp » 04 Dec 2021, 08:12

Mike G wrote:This is the reason for conspiracy theories:



If we cant educate our way out of stupidity what hope is there for mankind?

I will see if I can find a copy of his work, After 10 Years, very relevant to a course my daughter is hoping to do at uni.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Chris152 » 04 Dec 2021, 09:38

I'd not heard of Bonhoeffer, nor have I read any sustained account of stupidity (we tend to use it as a vague insult, in English). It sounds about right, but I also think that most of us fall into that category much of the time. Apparently Bonhoeffer worshipped Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Many of us don't these days, but we buy in to other, probably quite irrational, shared goals, values and so on through our lives. They're necessary to make it all bearable, I think. Some stupidities are more damaging than others, though - and once you're inside them, it's hard to see them for what they are.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Mike Jordan » 04 Dec 2021, 10:05

It seems to me that the media usually balances "facts and figures " type reports by giving the last word to one of the morons from the unbelievers camp. I've lost former colleagues to this disease, it's real! in spite of the raving of the unbalanced who walk amongst us. I think the Germans have an answer - no jabs - stay at home or be prosecuted.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Lurker » 04 Dec 2021, 10:40

The Dunning-Kruger effect explains it for me.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Gill » 04 Dec 2021, 11:10

My personal, completely unscientific notion is that many people hold deeply ingrained values or beliefs and are unable to face up to evidence that contradicts these values. They are usually stupid people who regard themselves as being clever. Frequently these people prefer to jump to ridiculous explanations for a development outside their philosophy rather than accept that their philosophy is flawed.

Of course I may be wrong but many years of observing my mother and her friends have led me to this conclusion.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andy Kev. » 04 Dec 2021, 14:56

Mike Jordan wrote:It seems to me that the media usually balances "facts and figures " type reports by giving the last word to one of the morons from the unbelievers camp. I've lost former colleagues to this disease, it's real! in spite of the raving of the unbalanced who walk amongst us. I think the Germans have an answer - no jabs - stay at home or be prosecuted.

What I'm going to post now is just for information i.e. it is not relevant to the discussion.

There is no "German answer" because each federal state is free to set its own rules although the new govt is likely to try for a more centralised approach. For instance, I've just got back from a low key shopping trip in Mannheim city centre. Low key because so few people were out and about. The reason for that is the 2G+ approach in the state of Baden-Württemburg.

2G+ means that if you want to eat in a restaurant you have to be either vaccinated or recovered and have a current test. If you are just either vaccinated or recovered you can go into all shops. If you are neither vaccinated nor recovered you can only go into food shops. There are different rules in the other states (at least at the moment). FWIW as somebody who is quite happy to have been vaccinated, I regard 2G+ as unnecessary and over the top but the reasons for my discontent are to do with the politics behind it and so i will not go into that here.

Edit: After one weekend the "+" bit has been ditched in B-W at least.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Andy Kev. » 04 Dec 2021, 15:10

AJB Temple wrote:I've never been fully convinced by Bonhoeffer's theory of stupidity. Whilst the premise that stupidity is a societal factor seems appealing and explains why people follow powerful leaders seemingly without questioning their ideology, it seems illogical to me not also to consider the impact of intellect. Whilst it is true that clever people can behave stupidly, is it not also the case that people of low intellect are more likely to be easily led and less able to grasp unappealing concepts, such as injecting oneself with a disease in order to provide some immunity from that disease?

If we accept the general view that intellect is distributed through the population in a more or less symmetrical bell curve, and that 100 is the average measurable intellect, then half of the population will be below average. Near 70% of people fall within 15 points either side. Only 2% are above the 130 point. Whilst the majority of a population grouping might follow an established leadership (medical authorities or the government say) and thus accept vaccination either for intellectual reasons or because they are simply followers, inevitably some people will be attracted to leaders who for whatever reason espouse a different view. Empirical evidence will not overcome this if personal experience (however minor in the overall picture) or desire to believe / follow overcomes this.

One person's rational is another person's irrational.

I'm sort of but not entirely convinced by your post. I've come to the general conclusion that there are two knds of adherents of conspiracy theorists:

a. The duped.

b. Those who it turns out are actually onto something.

Almost anybody can be duped depending on their intelligence (as you point out), their level of education, their belief systems (definitely different to having knowledge of facts) and their experience of life. Clearly the more sophisticated a person is in those terms, the more sophisticated the duping has to be e.g. some allegedly clever people were taken in by the Hitler Diairies scam. Look at academics who appear to have lost their critical faculties in the face of Critical Race Theory. I suspect that in the end that a nonsensical conspiracy theory will collapse and it will only continue to be adhered to by those for whom it has assumed the status of religious belief in their lives - there obviously being no arguing with them. The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion springs to mind as an example of this.

Category b. is more interesting IMO. I mentioned the Kennedy Assassination above. Some highly specific and apparently testable allegations have been made in connection with it. It seems to me that the sensible approach is to think that there could be something to it but we need to test the allegations in order to find out. There are of course those for whom some interpretations of what happened have already become religious dogma but they are of little interest for obvious reasons. So Kennedy represents a case where one can plausibly entertain the conspiracy theory pending testing and while maintaining an open mind.

The final thing and perhaps the biggest danger is the short term conspiracy theory spread on the internet like wildfire. One can imagine such a thing being of use to e.g. the Russian or Chinese intelligence services in the febrile atmosphere leading up to the taking of a crucial political decision. However, it would be likely that such theories would only be required to survive for a few days or so.

All in all, conspiracy theories are a fascinating area of human activity.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby AJB Temple » 04 Dec 2021, 19:07

Interesting Andy. I oversimplified in my post for brevity, but I agree with your point about conspiracy theories being interesting. One of the difficulties, among many, is that often information may be there but withheld by security services or whoever. The same people may be motivated for political or economic reasons to disseminate false or at least misleading (perhaps incomplete) information.

This begins to open up other areas, such as the concept of truth, whether truth looks different from other vantage points, and indeed whether we have any right to truth at all. Given that we bring our children up with a range of societal lies (eg the existence of Father Christmas, the tooth fairy etc) and belief systems based on usually no actual evidence at all (most religions), it is clear that in a general sense we are quite happy to lie and be lied to. Follow this line and we are selective about our requirement for "truth" and tolerant of lies that suit our agenda.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Peri » 05 Dec 2021, 09:16

I really think social media plays a big part. If you were 6 years old when YT and FB started, you were born around 1998. Anyone younger than about 23 has never really known a world without them.

My personal theory is that .... err ..... "Persons with irrational beliefs" were, in the past, relegated to shouting at people in the street or harassing them on buses. 99.8% of people ignored them, and they eventually went away.

Today they put up a youtube video (or a facebook post) - some of the other 0.2% people find them and give them a like or share it, soon they have a sizeable following and sane people who in the past would've walked past pretending not to listen start thinking "hmm - look at all those views/followers, maybe there's something in this, they cant all be wrong". They watch or share, the algorithm picks it up and starts aggressively pushing the post at other people, while at the same time pushing similar stories back to them.

Then you'll get the 'intelligent but easily persuaded' making arguments to support the view, and also the 'Intelligent, don't believe it at all but I can have some fun winding people up if I pretend to agree" type wading in.

Then it gets on the news, goes mainstream and we end up here today.


If I ever feel like getting so wound up that I'd like to take a hammer to my computer, I go to youtube and read the comments on ITV or SKY news stories.

EDIT - OK, some of that was a bit tongue in cheek, but youtube is incredibly powerful. I once had 1/4 class of engineering students argue that perpetual motion machines were possible, and being built. They knew this because they'd "Seen them on youtube".
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Lurker » 05 Dec 2021, 11:14

In the past if you had strong irrational beliefs you joined the clergy, rose to a position of power and then burned anyone who didn’t share your opinions.
Even if others shared your beliefs, if they didn’t celebrate them in the same way as you , you either killed them or started a war with them.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby SamQ aka Ah! Q! » 05 Dec 2021, 16:05

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Peri » 05 Dec 2021, 16:27

Lurker wrote:In the past if you had strong irrational beliefs you joined the clergy, rose to a position of power and then burned anyone who didn’t share your opinions.
Even if others shared your beliefs, if they didn’t celebrate them in the same way as you , you either killed them or started a war with them.


Brilliant
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Phil Pascoe » 05 Dec 2021, 19:43

Even if others shared your beliefs, if they didn’t celebrate them in the same way as you , you either killed them or started a war with them.


What the past got to do with it? :lol:
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