This 56 page document is published by The British Psychological Society and i’ve just begun reading it, so i can’t yet say whether i love it or hate it. But so far i’m liking what i see. It appears to be written in sections – some of which i’ll be skipping – but there looks to be enough great stuff in here to make it worth downloading.
I’m posting an excerpt below for you to read to help you decide whether this is something you might want to peruse.
Have fun. Feel free to provide feedback in the comments section. 🙂
The PDF can be downloaded here and at the links below.
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Special issue: The psychology of conspiracy theories
PRINCESS DIANA was murdered by the British Secret Service because she was pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s baby. The government is adding fluoride to our drinking water in an attempt to weaken the population. Barak Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim and thus ineligible for the Office of the President of the United States.
All of these statements have appeared at some point or other in popular media, debated by politicians, challenged and denied by government departments, and propagated heavily over the internet. A quarter of the UK population believe Diana was assassinated (YouGov, 2012); similarly 25 per cent of Americans think Obama was not born in the US (CBS News/New York Times, 2011). But these statements are not true.
They are examples of a cultural shift in the popularity of the ‘conspiracy theory’; alternative narratives of a world overshadowed by malevolent groups hell-bent on the destruction of civil liberties, freedom and democracy. They suggest that governments, secret religious groups, scientists or private industry (often many of these combined) are responsible for either causing or covering up significant major world events for their own criminal ends.
What is a ‘conspiracy theory’?
Broadly, psychologists feel that conspiracy theories are worth studying because they demonstrate a particular sub-culture of often heavily political activism that is at odds with the mainstream view. Conspiracy theories are unsubstantiated, less plausible alternatives to the mainstream explanation of an event; they assume everything is intended, with malignity. Crucially, they are also epistemically selfinsulating in their construction and arguments.
What insight does psychology offer?
Belief systems, cognitive biases and individual differences
But what in particular is it about conspiracy believers that are interesting from a psychological perspective? We find these theories and those who believe them incredibly resilient to counter-argument, driven by an often fanatical belief in their version of the truth, coupled with a heavy political overtone in that their opinions need to be heard. We see an interesting combination of cognitive biases, personality traits and other psychological mechanisms at play in the formation, propagation and belief in conspiracies.
Read more – Download the PDF File
- Conspiracy theories: Why we believe the unbelievable (illuminutti.com)
- When Noam Chomsky says that’s an idiotic idea, he’s probably right (illuminutti.com)
- Conspiracy theories as quasi-religious mentality (lunaticoutpost.com)
- The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories (schneier.com)