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Paper On Conspiratorial Thinking Invokes Conspiratorial Thinking 371

Layzej writes "Last summer a paper investigating the link between conspiratorial thinking and the rejection of climate science provoked a response on blogs skeptical of the scientific consensus that appeared to illustrate the very cognitive processes at the center of the research. This generated data for a new paper titled 'Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation (PDF).' The researchers reviewed the reactions for evidence of conspiratorial thinking, including the presumption of nefarious intent, perception of persecution, the tendency to detect meaning in random events, and the ability to interpret contrary evidence as evidence that the conspiracy is even greater in scope that was originally believed. Some of the hypotheses promoted to dismiss the findings of the original paper ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. It is not clear whether the response to this paper will itself provide data for further research, or how far down this recursion could progress. I fear the answer may be 'all the way.'"
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Paper On Conspiratorial Thinking Invokes Conspiratorial Thinking

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:52AM (#42806741)

    You wouldn't take people's freely written statements as being evidence of what they think?

    Evidence does not have to be perfect to make an objective study. The brain may be an inaccessable black box as far as psychology is concerned, but if there are identifiable patterns in its output, you can still work from that.

  • Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elucido ( 870205 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:54AM (#42806755)

    People believe in conspiracies because they don't have anyone in authority they can trust. It doesn't help when authority lies to them about virtually everything.

  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:57AM (#42806761) Homepage

    There were not a lot of people shouting in the desert that "LIBOR are fixing interest rates for their own gain!", nor a lot of people saying "Nixon is using illegal means to keep track of his political opponents. Guaranteed!". Conspiracy theorists tend to miss the real conspiracies, it seems.

  • by frivolous_taco ( 2834339 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:13AM (#42806807)
    MEMBER OF THE ROYAL FAMILY, KING RICHARD III, FOUND MURDERED IN PARKING LOT, POLICE DECLINE TO INVESTIGATE!! CONSPIRACY??!! - Leave out one key piece of information and it takes on a life of it's own, but there is nothing untrue about the above. Conspiracies seem to live on the interpretation that those who believe them have a better understanding of the issue at hand than those in charge, or that they have all the relevant information, when they don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:15AM (#42806817)

    I think that's primarily because conspiracy theorists imagine that conspiracies are typically much grander than the ones that exist in reality. The very nature of a conspiracy tends to keep it small; human nature is not overcome so easily.

  • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:25AM (#42806857)

    Yes sure, but there's a lot of room for how you interpret what they say.
    The original paper says "conspirators" are defined as making a "secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations", and then the paper gives an example and says that the tobacco industry had a view that it was being attacked by powerful conspirators, ie. the tobacco industry had a conspiratorial mindset. But today people often say there is a conspiracy by big oil, just like the tobacco industry had a conspiracy. It seems all sides are conspirators, and conspiracy crackpots, depending on how you interpret them. So it goes nowhere fast.

    There are just lots of people out there in society who by their millions, have different ideas about what is the good life and what they want. An environmentalist told me, it doesn't matter if CO2 isn't a problem, because by forcing people to reduce emissions, you force them to reduce production and consumption ––and then with a thoughtful pause she added, "It is about reducing greed." And I see that kind of view a lot, just like the free enterprise competitive types like Burt Rutan says the data doesn't add up and it is verging on fraud.

    It saddens me as I used to vote for the Green party but it just seems to fracture into left vs right wing ideologies. It fails their own stated goals of making a just world –– "climate justice" ––when a shack in Kenya that's supposed to store medicines and have a bed for the sick, has to choose between either keeping the fridge on, or the fan and lights, because the solar panel they have can't do both. And that's "climate justice" ???? So just so say before someone interprets me as some USA type right wing neo con yahoo.

  • Re:Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:31AM (#42806889)

    People believe in conspiracies because conspiracies actaully exist. The US really did get lied into two wars, for instance, and those who did the lying knew exactly what they were doing. The motives were profit and power. Period. That's about as evil as it gets.

    Also, I think there is sufficient proof that government does NOT represent the interests of the people these days, that they do protect the interests of the rich, and that government gets seriously paranoid whenever there is an active movement opposing either it or the wealthy--see law enforcement's reaction to Occupy Wall Street for an example. The Bradley Manning case as another. The Aaron Swartz case as another. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.

    Does that mean every conspiracy theory is true? Of course not. However, I'm sick and tired of "conspiracy theory" and "conspiracy theorist" being some kind of get out of jail free card for people who don't want to truly address what's going on in our society these days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:48AM (#42806945)

    How does it not? It references posts people made on blogs whilst sat at home scratching their balls. Where is the pressure being put on them to write something not true to themselves in that situation?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:57AM (#42806977)

    It was a Car Park - we don't have Parking Lots over here.
    That's probably why the police refused to investigate, they didn't know where to look for the evidence.

  • Yada Yada Yada (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:57AM (#42806979)
    Wow someone writes a paper on conspiracy theory and targets it slap bang at climate sceptics and then complains when they cry fowl! It's like calling someone paranoid when people really are out to get them!
  • by dabadab ( 126782 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:57AM (#42806981)

    This paper is about the thought processes, not about the actual truth. Actually there are no guarantees that you can not arrive to a right conclusion using flawed reasoning (however, I don't recall conspiracy theory nutjobs speculating about the LIBOR fixing).

  • by Delgul ( 515042 ) <gerard@nosPaM.onlinespamfilter.nl> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:10AM (#42807039) Homepage

    What part of "as well as other sciences" does not translate to "science" in general? If they didn't research science in general, they should not say they did. If they did research it, they have proven themselves that "climate" apparently doesn't have anything to do with it. However which way you look at it, it smells fishy. The fact that they did actually research the reactions to such a polarized and hyped field where unproven theories are floating around only makes matters worse. It is flamebait research and should be treated as such...

  • Re:Is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dabadab ( 126782 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:39AM (#42807161)

    People believe in conspiracy theories because it is way much easier than to actually learn the truth. The great thing about conspiracy theories that you don't have to know the actual facts (in the case of many theories it is actually a hindrance), you don't have to be very rigorous with your logic and if there's any hole in the theory you are welcome to make up any explanation. Compare that to the hard work required to be competent in a real area of knowledge.

    Also, your reasoning does not make much sense: you cannot trust the authorities so you believe everything the first nut job tells you? Really?

  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:57AM (#42807247) Journal

    of course you're right, environmentalists aren't really interested in keeping the land, water, sea and air free of poisonous substances, its all just a big power play. (nice trolling)

  • by Martin S. ( 98249 ) <Martin.SpamerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:17AM (#42807399) Homepage Journal

    Conspiratorial Thinking is clear example of the Dunning Kruger [wikipedia.org] effect at work.

    They overestimate their own intelligence or skill, and ignore contrary feedback. They disavow the intelligence or skill of others. These people are simply too stupid to invalidate their own hypothesis and recognise the validity of the alternative.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:20AM (#42807411)

    Real environmentalists are interested in the keeping things clean. Politicians, corporations and those so vocal in the news, blogs etc are not the same thing as real environmentalists. The sooner you learn the difference between those that use a cause for personal gain and the cause itself the better off you will be.

  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:34AM (#42807491)

    Politics comes into picture when deciding what to do.

    Unfortunately, many politicians and other organisations that have a vested interest in certain choices on what to do, have found that when hard science is involved, the easiest option to affect which choices are made is to attack the actual number producing science and scientists in the eyes of the public (i.e. a typical Straw Man strategy) using the techniques of propaganda.

    This works because the vast majority of people simply don't have the mental discipline necessary to build an sytematical image of the world, which would filter out this kind of noise - they work through heuristics (i.e. gut feeling), shared memes and are prone to have a belief reinforced by hearing others repeat the same belief (i.e. groupthink). In fact, this same process is often displayed here in /.

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:10AM (#42807761) Homepage Journal

    It fails their own stated goals of making a just world â"â" "climate justice" â"â"when a shack in Kenya that's supposed to store medicines and have a bed for the sick, has to choose between either keeping the fridge on, or the fan and lights, because the solar panel they have can't do both. And that's "climate justice" ????

    No, that's a slippery slope [rationalwiki.org] leading to an imaginary dilemma, in service of your balance fallacy [rationalwiki.org].

    That's actually a rather strange scenario for you to create, since solar power is bringing energy to areas of Kenya traditional power doesn't or won't go [nytimes.com].

    Is it a reference to this [solarpowerportal.co.uk]? Are they having problems with their equipment? If so, it is rather obnoxious of you to call their hospital a "shack".

    Or, is the scenario made-up, but still plausible? So where in Kenya are diesel generators illegal?

    Basically, what I'm asking is, is there some reason for us to not believe you are completely full of shit?

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @10:21AM (#42807875)

    You're making the point that true free markets are poor at dealing with the environment. That's true. They are also poor at dealing with all sorts of other concerns, which is why markets are regulated in all sorts of ways. And taxed at varying rates. All decided on by politicians. This is just one more way.

    I'm quite open to non-market ways of dealing with the AGW problem. If you have any suggestions.

    Doing nothing, just because the idealised, imaginary, true free market has no way to deal with the issue, is certainly not the answer.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @12:27PM (#42809419)

    I think you just dis-proved the point you were trying to make using that example, because it's actually a bi-partisan statist position, not a right wing one.

    Of course it doesn't disprove the point. It's simply that both Republican and Democrat are right wing. For example, the policies of the Democrat party are to the right of the policies of the UK Conservative party.

    Pursuing economic interests through war is most certainly a right wing idea. Pursuing social justice through war would be a left wing one.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson