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Why people believe in conspiracy theories and how to respond

34 Comments
By Daniel Jolley and Anthony Lantian
Coronavirus vaccines are the subject of many conspiracy theories. Photo: AP file

From vaccine uptake to violent extremism, conspiracy beliefs are linked to distrust in major institutions or powerful figures.

Research developed in the last decade shows how conspiracy beliefs can be linked to people’s lack of control in their lives, feeling threatened or even workplace bullying.

Conspiracy theories are defined by psychologists as “explanations for important events that involve secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups” without any basis in fact. Followers point a finger at groups they think of as powerful, from scientists and doctors to minority groups such as Jewish people, and blame them for events or societal change.

Conspiracies, where powerful figures secretly plot to undermine something or someone, do exist. The Watergate scandal involved a break in at the US Democratic National Committee headquarters by burglars connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign.

The burglars were caught wiretapping phones. Nixon tried to cover up the crimes but journalists uncovered his role in the conspiracy. But the difference here is that there is evidence to back up what happened.

However, conspiracists insist their theories are true even when there is no evidence that holds up to scrutiny. Still, conspiracy theories can be persuasive. Millions of British people believe in at least one. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.

Psychology of conspiracy theories

Studies in the early 2010s showed how non-pathological factors, such as uncertainty, are linked to why people turn to conspiracy beliefs. In 2017 psychologist Karen Douglas and colleagues argued the wide appeal of conspiracy theories is their promise to satisfy psychological needs. These include desire for certainty, control and meaning, and to maintain a positive image of yourself and the groups you identify with.

Feelings of anxiety and threat increase during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. People want to make sense of turbulent societies.

But conspiracy theories do not satisfy the psychological needs that make us reach for them. A 2021 study found conspiracy beliefs don’t lessen anxiety or uncertainty. If anything, there is some evidence people’s sense of existential threat and anxiety increases when they engage with conspiracy theories.

A less well understood factor is collective discrimination, where a group experiences being harmed by another group.

But researchers are getting closer to finding out why conspiracy theories are adopted by a group of people. It can be linked to lack of trust in institutions or society. Work in 2002 showed discrimination experienced by African Americans was associated with their heightened beliefs that HIV is made by humans deliberately. This idea still circulates today.

Research in 2020 found discrimination experienced by gay men in the UK was connected to their conspiracy beliefs about HIV being human-made. Such research underscores the links between conspiracy beliefs and distrust in powerful figures found in minority communities.

In a study into how conspiracy beliefs develop, Greek participants who thought their country historically suffered more than other nations were more likely to be conspiracy theorists. Research with similar study designs have found the same results in French and Polish participants.

Linked to bullying

Our recent research was inspired by previous work linking conspiracy theorising and people’s sense they are being victimised. We focused on workplace bullying. Unlike collective discrimination, bullying is personal, with a power imbalance between the bully and the victim.

Bullied victims report increased feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Being bullied seems to increase the risk of believing in a conspiracy theory.

We carried out two studies. The first study recruited 273 British participants online. We measured participants’ past experiences of workplace bullying by asking them report whether they experienced a range of incidents, such a colleague withholding information which affects a co-workers’ performance. The more negative acts a participant has suffered, the stronger their tendency to engage in conspiracy theorising.

Participants who experienced workplace bullying were more likely to report increased paranoia – to wonder what hidden reason another person may have for doing something nice for them.

In the second study, 206 British participants were asked to imagine they had joined a new work place in the last six months. Half were asked to imagine being bullied in the new workplace (for example being shouted at) or being welcomed. Those who were asked to imagine about being bullied reported an increased general belief in conspiracy theories.

Tackling conspiracy beliefs

Our work highlights how conspiracy beliefs can form in response to circumstances that could happen to anyone. When a hostile environment primes us to search for meaning, we may find a conspiracy explanation appealing.

Research has also started to find solutions to the problem. In 2018 one study found giving people a greater feeling of power reduced the intensity of conspiracy beliefs. Encouraging people to think analytically, which prompts deliberate processing of information, also helps curb the emergence of conspiracy beliefs. Developing these skills in adolescents and conspiracy believers is essential.

Challenging people’s misconceptions about how popular conspiracies are could be effective. For example, one study found giving information to UK parents with anti-vaccine beliefs about other UK parents who did vaccinate their children reduced conspiracy beliefs.

We do not know what tools will work outside of the lab. Mentorship for bullying victims, which has been shown to help people feel more secure, could be a promising place to start. And considering the devastation conspiracy theories can wreak, we can’t afford not to try.

Daniel Jolley is Assistant Professor in Social Psychology, University of Nottingham. Anthony Lantian is Associate Professor in Psychology, Université Paris Nanterre.

The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.

© The Conversation

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments

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Diversity, tolerance and inclusion.

Other people have different beliefs than you.

Stop trying to force your views on other people.

Some people believe that Big Pharma is more interested in profits than they are in making us healthy, it's their right to believe that.

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

Conspiracy theories all come down to the following:

1) People who are uncomfortable with uncertainty, looking for answers to things that don't have nice clean answers due to an infinitely complex reality of life

2) A feeling of power from feeling like they have discovered some secret that other's don't know, and a rush from the feeling of superiority from being "in the know". Conversely, many if not most of these people are used to feeling inferior, so the feelings of superiority feel good

3) Feeling part of a group. By being "in the know" on the so-called conspiracy, they feel a comradship for others who are also "in the know". Look at Q followers for a prime example - they started wearing shirts and other clothing to identify as one of the believers

4) An unwillingness to be open minded enough to fact check themselves. They would rather find echo chambers that support what they believe, than fact-check the things they believe to verify whether or not they are real on their own.

5) A limited intellect.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

Too much CNN.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Too much CNN.

Thank you for providing an example of this:

A feeling of power from feeling like they have discovered some secret that other's don't know, and a rush from the feeling of superiority from being "in the know". Conversely, many if not most of these people are used to feeling inferior, so the feelings of superiority feel good

Yes, you are "in the know", about CNN. Got it.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

People believe in conspiracy theories because they are ignorant and get carried away with any stupidity that becomes a trend..

Too much CNN.

For example the CNN haters, lol..

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Conspiracy theories all come down to the following:

1) People who are uncomfortable with uncertainty, looking for answers to things that don't have nice clean answers due to an infinitely complex reality of life

2) A feeling of power from feeling like they have discovered some secret that other's don't know, and a rush from the feeling of superiority from being "in the know". Conversely, many if not most of these people are used to feeling inferior, so the feelings of superiority feel good

3) Feeling part of a group. By being "in the know" on the so-called conspiracy, they feel a comradship for others who are also "in the know". Look at Q followers for a prime example - they started wearing shirts and other clothing to identify as one of the believers

4) An unwillingness to be open minded enough to fact check themselves. They would rather find echo chambers that support what they believe, than fact-check the things they believe to verify whether or not they are real on their own.

5) A limited intellect

That about covers it.

I find the second point very common. Conspiracy theorists are the most thin-skinned people I’ve ever come across. They react very badly to being mocked and cannot self-deprecate.

Too much CNN

CNN living rent-free again. I was told nobody watches it.

Interesting.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Just believe tv news report. They never say lie.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

People believe in conspiracy theories because they are ignorant and get carried away with any stupidity that becomes a trend

It isn’t random. I find it more a case of checking off a list.

I’m interested in the spectrum idea of conspiracy theories. You have the garden variety scamdemic, stolen election, climate change is a hoax and then moving further along you find stuff like Holocaust denial and flat earth.

I heard one commentator mention that many conspiracy theorists wouldn’t openly admit to sympathy towards Holocaust denial or the flat earth ‘model’ which makes it difficult to assess how far gone they are.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I heard one commentator mention that many conspiracy theorists wouldn’t openly admit to sympathy towards Holocaust denial or the flat earth ‘model’ which makes it difficult to assess how far gone they are.

I read one woman's story where she talked about being deep into conspiracy theories, started dating a guy who believed in those same theories, but then the guy was into flat-earth. That was one step too much for her, and it led to her questioning the veracity of her own beliefs. So she started questioning them, and they all unravelled.

I wonder how many of our posters here believe in flat-earth.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

It's such a big question and too much to unravel in a post but their prevalence since the widespread use of the internet suggests that the availability of communal spaces to foment shared beliefs, a safe space, enables fiction to become fact on a global scale. This is reflected in the narrow hymn-sheet they sing from. The repetition of keywords (globalist, MSM, Big Pharma etc. ) are not even enough fill a side of A4, yet have become normalised over the last 15 - 20 years.

That bloke down the pub who believed blah de blah was gently humoured but now he can just stay home and take it to the next level with people who are actually listening and pushing it further.

I would also argue that the decline in christian religious belief has left a void in certain people that needs to be filled. The gradual loss of a 'faith', and it's authority (the Church) has left many searching for answers to the infinite complexities of life. It is barely half a century since all aspects of our societies were strictly governed by religious doctrine and that gradual loss of belief has been underestimated.

What I find most frustrating about conspiracy theories though is the "look at that bird" mentality that seems to prevail in believers. I understand the the theories often come from a very real sense of injustice, fear or disenfranchisement but they are always creating a myth when a reality actually exists.

The poster above using 'Big Pharma' is a good example of a free market capitalist raging about free market capitalism without actually wanting to do anything about the negative aspects of free market capitalism.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the energy spent by adherents to the Qanon belief in a global cabal of paedophiles was instead focussed on the actual historical and ongoing paedophile abuse in the Catholic Church ?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

That bloke down the pub who believed blah de blah was gently humoured but now he can just stay home and take it to the next level with people who are actually listening and pushing it further.

This is a major part of it. The greatest thing about the internet is that it gave a voice to everyone. The worst thing about the internet is that it gave a voice to everyone.

We as a species need to learn to ignore the idiots online the same way we do the loonie on the streetcorner preaching the end of days.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I keep conspiracy theories out of my head. They are banned.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

When powerful organisations like governments and corporations lie readily, hide or distort unfavourable data, exchange bribes, engage in revolving-door job swapping between government bodies and the organisations they're supposed to be regulating, and get caught doing so, isn't it natural for any curious and intellectually honest person to ask questions and create hypotheses based on what they learn, or what is obscured from them? Regarding the study, small as it was, reporting that victims of workplace bullying victims are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, as the author snarkily puts it, is quite plausible because the abuse of power and trust displayed by workplace bullies closely mirrors the behaviour of governments and large corporations and the like.

Now it goes without saying that some of those hypotheses are a bit loony and based more on imagination that reality. But certainly not all. For instance, the Bush and Blair governments went all out painting anyone who questioned the Iraq WMD claims as "conspiracy theorists," but it turn out the crazy nutters were right! Then there was the Gulf of Tonkin and the USS Liberty. Even the authors of the official 9/11 commission report admitted that the Bush administration was going out of their way not to cooperate with the investigation, leading to serious doubts about the veracity of the information they did provide.

This particular article is just another in a long line of weak sophistry put out by academics through The Conversation, which dubiously claims to be independent but is funded by a series of academic and foundation partners, which are themselves funded by governments, corporations and individuals, all of which have their own interests, many honourable and many highly questionable. Including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And to get funding from them, you have to toe the line of those supporters. We can argue until the cows come home about Gates' motivations, but he has his fingers in a lot of pies, including investments in pharmaceutical companies, so he has a direct interest in information about vaccines pro and con.

Personally, I don't have a problem with vaccines in principle, have had quite a few myself and gave our baby his recommended course to date. But simply smearing people as "anti-vaxxers" - regardless of whether they are layfolk or suitably qualified medical experts - when they raise doubts about the safety and effectiveness of covid vaccines based on direct experience or expert knowledge, is simply disingenuous. It smacks of desperate deflection to protect power or corporate interests, or cognitive dissonance as the case may be.

Given that the authorities and covid vaccine makers have been regularly caught on video or in documents distorting or obscuring the truth about things like the origin of the virus, clinical trial results, vaccine effectiveness, true covid infection numbers, denying or downplaying adverse effects, and much more, is it any wonder that more and more people are losing trust in institutions and making their own minds up about what is true and what is false? This questioning is being deliberately misrepresented as "conspiracy theorising" by people who're getting unmasked, as it were, and their supporters. Many of those supporters are otherwise intelligent people, but for whatever reason can't or won't question the offical line - sometimes it's financial, sometimes related to job security, sometimes ideological, and sometimes just wilful ignorance.

Basically, nobody has a monopoly on the truth.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Funny how some here try to bring up the ridiculous trope of the flat-earther to try and brush off genuine inquiry. Just shows you lack the capacity to engage on anything more than a superficial level.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Regarding the study, small as it was, reporting that victims of workplace bullying victims are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, as the author snarkily puts it, is quite plausible because the abuse of power and trust displayed by workplace bullies closely mirrors the behaviour of governments and large corporations and the like.

A very important part is that nothing makes those beliefs more likely to be true, just more likely to be held, which is the problem. If your life becomes centered on things you believe are happening no matter what, and that become impossible to disprove to you, even with mountains of evidence of the opposite then you would be accepting to live separated from reality.

Now it goes without saying that some of those hypotheses are a bit loony and based more on imagination that reality. But certainly not all. 

Again, the problem is insisting on things that can be disproved, or even mutually contradictory theories that according to the person must be all true. For rational people there is no problem in accepting conspiracies that have evidence pointing out to them, the problem is to refuse to accept any conspiracy theory you may be believing may not be true.

This particular article is just another in a long line of weak sophistry put out by academics through The Conversation

None of your arguments disprove the article and its conclusions, so you first need to do that to make this claim. Just claiming the authors are part of a conspiracy to push something you refuse to accept is not an argument. Prove the article is false, or the conspiracy that makes the conclusions invalid. If you can't then then only rational option is to accept it.

when they raise doubts about the safety and effectiveness of covid vaccines based on direct experience or expert knowledge, is simply disingenuous

When a supposed professional gives more weight to "personal experience" than in actual validated evidence and proper methods to reach a scientific conclusion they are demonstrating they are not doing their jobs to the standard expected from them. It would be as valid as saying something must be true because the horoscope said so. There is nothing wrong with disqualifying those opinions unsuported (or even refuted) by the evidence.

And again no, dismissing the evidence based on a supposed conspiracy that would include professionals all around the world is not a valid argument, it is at much an example that the problem the article is talking about.

Funny how some here try to bring up the ridiculous trope of the flat-earther to try and brush off genuine inquiry.

Nothing funny about that, this is a very clear example of a person that is convinced of something that can easily be refuted based on scientific data that will never accept to be wrong, and that uses as an excuse a global conspiracy involving everyone contradicting his beliefs.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

genuine inquiry

... and your genuine inquiry has led you to believe that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a benign actor in the sphere of charitable donation.

Has your genuine inquiry led you to insist on the nationalisation of pharmaceutical companies ? Or would you rather believe the entire medical community of millions of people is conspiring against us ?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Has your genuine inquiry led you to insist on the nationalisation of pharmaceutical companies ? Or would you rather believe the entire medical community of millions of people is conspiring against us ?

As a socialist, is nationalisation your answer to everything?

Of course not, just proper, transparent regulation.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

transparent regulation

As a capitalist, where is the profit in transparent regulation ?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

PaustovskyToday  11:30 am JST

transparent regulation

As a capitalist, where is the profit in transparent regulation ?

Are you seriously arguing that well balanced regulation prevents profit? It will reduce it, but not eliminate it unless there is a serious problem with the business model in the first place. But I doubt you're able to grasp that.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

virusrex, the dissenting scientists have been using scientific evidence they gather through clinical work directly with patients, and lab work. And people have experienced severe and sometimes deadly adverse effects from your jabs. Are you going to call Dr Aseem Malhotra, one of Britain's top cardiologists, a conspiracy theorist after he changes his mind on the jabs after they killed his father, demonstrated through his autopsy? Or Dr Kerryn Phelps, former president of the Australian Medical Association and another loud cheerleader for mandatory vaccination and lockdowns...until she and her partner both suffered crippling adverse effects from their covid jabs, which was the conclusion of doctors who examined them?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

No need for the petty insults.

I am reaching out to engage with you. I am very open to transparency at all levels, and in all fields of endeavour.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

PaustovskyToday  11:41 am JST

No need for the petty insults. 

I am reaching out to engage with you. I am very open to transparency at all levels, and in all fields of endeavour.

Fair enough, but why get your hackles up when it comes to expecting transparency in dealing with the current pandemic? An inquiring mind wouldn't take just one side's message at face value. There are too many conflicts of interest at play among governments, the pharmaceutical industry, the mainstream media, cross-ownership and advertising sponsorship between the pharma companies and media, and the flow of funding and sponsorship of many academic and professional associations to turn a blind eye.

Pointing this out, calling attention to inconsistencies between messaging and data, etc. shouldn't be dismissed as conspiracy theory by the interested parties, but it is. That indicates many of those interested parties have something to hide. That doesn't mean everyone inside them, but almost certainly the leadership. Why have so many prospective and actual whistleblowers been threatened with their careers or fired and smeared for speaking out with demonstrable evidence?

Surely if you're interested in getting to the truth, asking reasonable questions shouldn't be considered kooky. But apparently here on JT, it is by some.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

the dissenting scientists have been using scientific evidence they gather through clinical work directly with patients, and lab work. 

A reference where this is done (properly, not as the well known examples of pseudoscience and debunked reports that make invalid conclusions from evidence that do not support them) and that this evidence was ignored would be necessary to actually support this appeal to authority.

Plenty of scientists have published information of all kinds about vaccines and side effects without any problem, and that information has been included in the determinations the experts from all around the world that coincide in concluding the vaccines reduce the risk for all people for which they are being recommended by having a minuscule risk compared with covid.

The reports that have been criticized and debunked by the post publication peer review have been done so because of invalid methods, false data or by making claims that are not supported by the evidence presented, that is part of the scientific process.

What has not happened are that reports that are valid and correct about vaccines being ignored, that is the claim you are making but have never proved.

And people have experienced severe and sometimes deadly adverse effects from your jabs.

Not mine, the vaccines are recommended by the scientific and medical consensus, easily proved as you have been asked to provide any respectable institution that says the opposite without you ever providing any.

Are you going to call Dr Aseem Malhotra, one of Britain's top cardiologists, a conspiracy theorist after he changes his mind on the jabs after they killed his father

I have no need to call him anything, the complete lack of evidence to support his claims is the one that invalidate them. He can sacrifice his professional reputation by giving more importance to one single case than the information derived from literally millions of vaccinated people that disprove his personal opinion, but without evidence on his side of at least the same amount and quality his claims are not scientific. Kerryn Phelps has not offered any evidence that even indicates that vaccines produce a risk even comparable to what the infection cause, changing her mind about the valididty of the evidence that proves vaccines as the much safer option because of her personal situation is as valid as it would be to change her mind about the benefits of antibiotics against bacterial infections just because of falling victim of the well known risks of using them.

So, references to actual scientific reports from anybody you think has provend the claims are still necessary, professional people saying something without that evidence is not enough, it just becomes an invalid appeal to authority from people that are not acting as such (or being used this way by antivaxxer conspiracy groups when their claims are actually not what they are presented as by those groups).

1 ( +8 / -7 )

I remember a great expression when dealing with conspiracy theorists:

Keep an open mind but not to the extent that your brain falls out.

@prionking

Can I ask what media you read?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

It's clear from the voting pattern and responses on this thread that most posters aren't interested in the pursuit of truth and transparency, but rather dismissing people who can think beyond the end of their own nose.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

what is your professional qualification to dismiss highly qualified doctors who deal with this disease and its treatments on a daily basis?

Transparent fallacy, I am not the one saying scientist or doctors must provide valid evidence to support their claims, the scientific community of the world is. They are the ones criticizing the terribly inadequate examples you have brought as invalid and pseudoscientific. Pretending people repeating these arguments must have some qualification as well makes absolutely no sense. An elementary school child could do it and it would still be a completely valid appeal to authority. Why pretend you are discussing against what one single person in the internet is saying? you are trying to refute the actual scientific consensus.

but what about indicating how you know what you claim to understand?

The moment you become unable to refute the argument this means that logically you have to concede it is correct, there is zero difficulty on just repeating what the best doctors and scientists of the world can prove scientifically, the one that claims they (and their evidence) are wrong because somebody else made a baseless opposite claim is the one that more clearly can be said not to understand the issue.

As one who is pushing these jabs,

Fallacy, my arguments simply prove that yours are invalid, false. You can still choose to act irrationally and not vaccinate, but if you want to pretend this is based on evidence without presenting that evidence first then you open yourself to being called on that.

You can't do this, because not even the makers or the CDC etc can do it, 

Yes they can, and they have done it repeatedly. You trying to ignore the experts repeating explicitly that vaccines represent a much lower risk than covid do not make them unable to do it, it just make you unable to accept when they do it.

You said valid reports were being ignored, but failed to present even a single one, that means the one being unable to prove what you claim is you.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

It's clear from the voting pattern and responses on this thread that most posters aren't interested in the pursuit of truth and transparency, but rather dismissing people who can think beyond the end of their own nose

In the interests of truth and transparency, do us the service of posting the sources which will help us get closer to truth and transparency.

Can I also ask your opinion on climate change?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

prionkingToday  12:19 pm JST

virusrex, what is your professional qualification to dismiss highly qualified doctors who deal with this disease and its treatments on a daily basis?

None.

I'm not asking you to identify yourself, but what about indicating how you know what you claim to understand? *

He doesn't..

Do you understand the science better than they do?

Definitely no.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

People believe in conspiracy theories because they are ignorant and get carried away with any stupidity that becomes a trend..

Like those who believed in the Russian collusion in the 2016 US election, or that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, or ...

One reason that people believe in so-called "conspiracy theories" is that the mainstream narrative is often so obviously false. Lately these "conspiracy theories" have often been referred to as spoiler alerts, because they end up being true...

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

One reason that people believe in so-called "conspiracy theories" is that the mainstream narrative is often so obviously false. Lately these "conspiracy theories" have often been referred to as spoiler alerts, because they end up being true

I think you mentioned that you follow Alex Jones.

Is he a good source to get closer to the truth?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I think you mentioned that you follow Alex Jones.

Is he a good source to get closer to the truth?

I don't think so. I always thought of him as more of a gatekeeper and/or well poisoner.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

a gatekeeper

Please tell us more.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

None.

He doesn't..

Definitely no.

When you reduce yourself to make baseless claims about other commenters instead of arguing you are transparently demonstrating you understant those other commenters are right, and their arguments solid. You are also demonstrating that opposing anybody that demonstrate your beliefs are wrong is more important than following the rules you accepted to comment here.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

JimizoToday  09:02 am JST

Conspiracy theories all come down to the following:

1) People who are uncomfortable with uncertainty, looking for answers to things that don't have nice clean answers due to an infinitely complex reality of life

2) A feeling of power from feeling like they have discovered some secret that other's don't know, and a rush from the feeling of superiority from being "in the know". Conversely, many if not most of these people are used to feeling inferior, so the feelings of superiority feel good

3) Feeling part of a group. By being "in the know" on the so-called conspiracy, they feel a comradship for others who are also "in the know". Look at Q followers for a prime example - they started wearing shirts and other clothing to identify as one of the believers

4) An unwillingness to be open minded enough to fact check themselves. They would rather find echo chambers that support what they believe, than fact-check the things they believe to verify whether or not they are real on their own.

5) A limited intellect

That about covers it.

I find the second point very common. Conspiracy theorists are the most thin-skinned people I’ve ever come across. They react very badly to being mocked and cannot self-deprecate.

For over 30 years it's been a social disease in America. AM radio became a format for lippy bores like the late Rubbish Limberger. His 'dittohead' flock said it was 'humor' but his blabbermouth 'jokes' were juvenile at best. That bastard never worked a honest day in his life, he spouted his 'knowledge' on the radio since he was 16 and he never matured a day beyond that. Other cretins came on the AM dial with wild conspiracy theories of cops being 'jack booted thugs' and encouraging violence against them 9and others). Militia hate groups expanded and grew. And on the other end of the spectrum, there was the 'Satanic Panic' and the PMRC.

TV shows did the same trend. Desert Storm 24/7 coverage made war 'entertainment'. The End of the Second Millenium of Christ (year 2000 = 'Y2K') was approaching. In 1993 on ABC-TV I saw a serious news special about the horrible genocide and abuses of the Yugoslavia breakup wars. Later that same year they held another special about 'encounters with angels' simply because New Agers decided they believed in them. I started slowly steering away from TV news after that. They'd be showing the viewers nonsense like 'Jesus had brothers or He looked like this' or crap like 'MLK was a cheat, pervert and he plagiarized his PhD thesis' (badmouthing the dead, are we?). Misinformation spread like the disease that it is and the rise of the internet only made it worse.

We've been building the perfect beast, esp. in America. When Communism fell in Eastern Europe and the Cold War ended peacefully, I was happy. I thought mankind had learned a lesson, but I was wrong. '1984' didn't arrive 'on time' but it has in another form. Science fiction always works that way.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

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