Science/Nature/Technology -  Why do people believe conspiracies? (1288 views)  (Closed for Posting) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host10/18/17 1:11 PM 
To: All  (1 of 51) 

Why So Many People Believe Conspiracy Theories

William of Occam would have hated conspiracy theories. A 14th-century philosopher and Franciscan friar, William is celebrated for developing the "law of parsimony," better known today as "Occam's razor." According to the razor principle, the simplest explanation for an event is almost always the best; shave away any extraneous assumptions, and what you've got left is usually the truth.

That's not exactly the way conspiracy theorists think. Either Barack Obama was actually born in Hawaii, or an international plot unfolded over multiple decades to conceal his Kenyan birthplace and install him in the presidency. Either vaccines are safe and effective, or every major hospital and health organization in the world is covering up the fact that they actually cause autism. Never mind the razor — conspiracy theories are nothing but extraneous assumptions.

The question is, Why do so many people believe in them? Why do even the most preposterous theories — the Nazis survived but they fled to the moon; the world is secretly being run by a reptilian elite — have fiercely loyal adherents? There are nearly as many explanations for conspiracy theories as there are theories themselves, but some patterns do appear again and again.


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From: JohnDoe947 DelphiPlus Member Icon10/18/17 2:16 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (2 of 51) 
 4833.2 in reply to 4833.1 

YWN666 said...

Why do so many people believe in them?

People see no reason to question anything. Cuz they're stupid.


Wake Up!!!


From: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/18/17 3:29 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (3 of 51) 
 4833.3 in reply to 4833.1 

YWN666 said...

William of Occam would have hated conspiracy theories.

As Far As I'm Concerned
Dan Culberson
(C) 1996, 2017

Here's what I think.

One of the bugaboos in the ongoing debate between atheists and theists over whether or not God exists is the logical dilemma atheists are faced with: namely, you cannot logically prove a negative premise.

Just as theists cannot prove that God exists, atheists cannot prove that God doesn't exist.

However, another approach is to use Occam's Razor to support your position. William of Occam, the DOCTOR SINGULARIS ET INVINCIBIIS, was born around 1285 in England, died in 1349 and was a great Franciscan scholastic philosopher who was probably born at Ockham, Surrey.

"Occam" is the Latinized form of the location.

Interestingly enough, Occam claimed that purely intellectual abstractions are not valid knowledge and that reasoning must be based on experimental proof. However, he also believed that the existence and attributes of God are not susceptible of proof by human reason, but can be approached only through intuition.

Ironically, OCCAM'S RAZOR refers to his famous principle of economy in logic, which he wrote in QUODLIBETA SEPTEM around 1320: ENTIA NON SUNT MULTIPLICANDA PRAETER NECESSITATEM, "Entities should not be multiplied beyond what is needed."

By "entities," Occam meant assumptions used to explain phenomena, and his axiom was intended to mean that all unnecessary facts or constituents in the subject being analyzed are to be eliminated.

However, over the centuries Occam's Razor has evolved into "If more than one explanation for something exists, the simplest explanation is probably the correct one," and it has even been used by anthropologists to explain the origins of phenomena they have encountered in primitive societies.

So, even though Occam believed that the existence of God cannot be proved by human reasoning, but must be accepted by faith, let us use his most famous writing against him to support the opposite.

On the one hand, we have a worldwide belief by the three great monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in an infinite "being" who (in the words of THE CONCISE COLUMBIA ENCYCLOPEDIA) "is supremely good, who created the world, who knows all and can do all, who is transcendent over and immanent in the world, and who loves all human beings."

(Ironically enough, "immanent" means "having existence only in the mind," a curious word to use to describe God.)

In addition, the majority of Christians believe God lived on earth in the form of Jesus Christ, God's "son," who was born miraculously from a virgin and who performed miracles as an adult before being betrayed by a follower, crucified by the Romans, then rose from death three days later and ascended into Heaven, where, incidentally, all believers in God go themselves after death and are allowed to "live" eternally, as opposed to nonbelievers and other sinners who go to Hell after death, where they suffer eternally under the dominion of Satan, God's most famous, fallen angel.

On this same "one hand" is the Bible and the traditional Christian view that it was written under the guidance of God and therefore is "entirely true," either literally or couched in allegory.  The interpretation of the Bible is a main point of difference between Protestantism, which allows individuals to interpret the Bible for themselves (except for Fundamentalists, who say that it is literally true, but pick and choose from it to back up their rigid beliefs) and Roman Catholicism, which teaches that individuals are allowed to believe what is in the Bible only as interpreted by the Church and its representatives.

Also on that same "one hand" is the position of Judaism, perhaps the most persecuted people on earth because of their religious belief, who not only have their own differences among themselves, but also accept only the Old Testament of the Bible as being the word of God, because they don't believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah they have been awaiting all these millennia.

Finally, on that same "one hand" is Islam, the dominant religion throughout the Arab world, whose followers believe a different book, the Koran, is the revelation of God to the prophet Muhammad, who at age 40 believed he was selected by God to be the Arab prophet of true religion and that Jews and Christians alike would welcome his teachings.

On the other hand, we have a worldwide belief that none of this is true, God doesn't exist and he is merely a human creation to allay the fear of death.

Applying Occam's Razor, which position contains fewer unnecessary facts and therefore is probably the correct one?



From: Marci (marcinmin) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 10:43 AM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (4 of 51) 
 4833.4 in reply to 4833.1 

I don't understand conspiracy theorists, either, but there are plenty of them around. I think some are mentally unbalanced, but others are seemingly otherwise reasonable people.

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Assistant Moderator,YDD-Yellow Dog Democrats



From: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 11:31 AM 
To: Marci (marcinmin) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (5 of 51) 
 4833.5 in reply to 4833.4 

Marci (marcinmin) said...

I don't understand conspiracy theorists, either, but there are plenty of them around. I think some are mentally unbalanced, but others are seemingly otherwise reasonable people.

What's not to understand? Some people are suspicious (called "skeptics") of an explanation that you accept without question? Why do you assume that some are mentally unbalanced? Do you read all the conspiracy theories that all the theorists support? You could just as easily make the claim that "some are mentally unbalanced, but others are seemingly otherwise reasonable people" about all large groups of people. Your statement leads me to suspect that you believe that most conspiracy theorists are nothing but crackpots.

Show me a conspiracy theory, and I'll show you a kernel of truth in it.


From: Marci (marcinmin) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 11:40 AM 
To: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (6 of 51) 
 4833.6 in reply to 4833.5 

When someone claims Sandy Hook never happened or child actors played dead kids or that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a pizzeria, they are either sick or mentally unbalanced. That is far beyond natural suspicion of the government. I have a Conspiracy folder over at First Amendment and the discussions range from reasonable concern to flat out nut case crazy

Forum Host, Liberal Heaven
Assistant Moderator,YDD-Yellow Dog Democrats



From: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 3:09 PM 
To: Marci (marcinmin) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (7 of 51) 
 4833.7 in reply to 4833.6 

Marci (marcinmin) said...

When someone claims Sandy Hook never happened or child actors played dead kids or that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a pizzeria, they are either sick or mentally unbalanced.

Well, now you are categorizing all conspiracy theorists as what I would call "nutcase conspiracy theorists." That's like calling all scientists as including "creationist scientists," those who don't believe in evolution, or all geographers as including "flat-earth geographers," those who don't believe that the earth is a three-dimensional sphere that revolves around a three-dimensional star that we call the sun. I am still writing an article that so far is called "Why We Believe What We Believe," and it is based on my theory that we choose to believe what we want to believe, with the percentages of possibility and probability taken into consideration. For example, I believe that the sun will rise into view tomorrow, given the weather conditions that permit observation, but there is the possibility that it won't, depending on whether it explodes out of existence, the earth is destroyed by a comet or asteroid that strikes the earth, or something that causes all humanity to die. So, the possibility is 100%, but the probability is much less than that, perhaps even less than 1%. At what point do conspiracy theorists accept the probability of their beliefs? 50%? 30%? 20%? And why? Does the desire to believe exceed the probability of belief?


From: Marci (marcinmin) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 5:49 PM 
To: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (8 of 51) 
 4833.8 in reply to 4833.7 

Go back to my first thread. I never claimed all or even most conspiracy theorists are mentally unbalanced. I wrote that clearly some of them are. Don’t mischaracterize what I wrote.

Forum Host, Liberal Heaven
Assistant Moderator,YDD-Yellow Dog Democrats


  • Edited October 22, 2017 5:54 pm  by  Marci (marcinmin)

From: Ted (TW9808121976) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/22/17 7:19 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (9 of 51) 
 4833.9 in reply to 4833.1 

I think it starts out with many who are so afraid that anyone is putting something over on them that they look for every possibility just so they can say they weren't fooled. If anything ever turns out to be right, they can claim they knew it all the time.


From: Dan (DANCULBERSON) DelphiPlus Member Icon10/23/17 6:00 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (10 of 51) 
 4833.10 in reply to 4833.1 

Conspiracy Theorists Really Do See The World Differently, New Study Shows

Do you see the connections?

23 OCT 2017

To a conspiracy theorist, the world is not what it seems. Invisible threads link seemingly unrelated concepts, and there's no such thing as a random coincidence.

Researchers have been scratching their heads for years over what makes some peoplemore conspiratorially inclined. Now a recent study has finally tracked down one of the faulty thinking patterns. As it turns out, we all use it - but these people use it too much.

A team of psychologists from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the University of Kent in the UK has determined that conspiracy theorists are hooked on something called 'illusory pattern perception'.

"People often hold irrational beliefs, which we broadly define here as unfounded, unscientific, and illogical assumptions about the world," the team writes in the study.

"Although many irrational beliefs exist, belief in conspiracy theories and belief in the supernatural are particularly prevalent among ordinary, nonpathological citizens."

In other words, conspiracy theorists are not "nuts". They're totally sane, which makes their beliefs all the more puzzling - until we realise that they actually see the world quite differently.

Illusory pattern perception is a pretty simple concept. It happens whenever we find a meaningful pattern in random stimuli, drawing correlations and even causation where none has actually occurred.

For example, you might have a dream about an elderly relative, and then receive news the following day that the relative has passed away. For some people that would be enough to conclude that their dreams can predict the future.

We all do this with patterns to some extent, because that's how our brains work - and it's a useful tool for drawing conclusions about an environment full of cause, effect, and potential danger.

You may think illusory pattern perception is an obvious explanation for what's going on with conspiracy theorists. And it's true that researchers have assumed this phenomenon plays a role, but turns out they haven't actually been testing it.

"[I]t is surprising how little direct empirical evidence there is available to support the role of illusory pattern perception in irrational beliefs in general, and particularly in the domain of conspiracy theories," the team writes in the study.

To tackle this problem, the team devised a series of experiments. After recruiting 264 American adults, they started by assessing the participants' belief in both common and made-up conspiracy theories, on a scale of 1 to 9.

Amongst the conspiracies were things like "Ebola is a man-made virus," "the moon landing was a hoax," and the fictitious "the extract 'testiculus taurus' found in Red Bull has unknown side effects."

The researchers also ranked the participants' supernatural beliefs before moving on to a series of experiments designed to test whether people with high belief scores in conspiracies and supernatural stuff would
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