Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills.
A Professor of psychology from Victoria University sheds some light on the conspiracy theories surrounding illuminati.
By matt stewart via Stuff.co.nz
You don’t have to be mad to create conspiracy theories, but it certainly helps, new research suggests.
Just believing in them indicates you are more likely to be paranoid or mentally ill, a Victoria University study shows.
Widely held conspiracy theories range from harmless ones, such as the belief that the Moon landings were faked, to more dangerous delusions such as the one in Nigeria that polio vaccines were a Western plot to sterilise people. That led to vaccination crews being murdered and thousands dying from disease.
Clinical psychologist Darshani Kumareswaran is delving in to the psychology of conspiracy belief, and has found some believers are likely to endorse far-fetched plots in an effort to make sense of chaotic situations beyond their control.
Kumareswaran, who graduated from Victoria with a PhD in psychology this week, wanted to find out what made people more likely to believe in, or come up with, conspiracy theories – and whether the process was linked to mental illness.
Avid conspiracy theorists can put themselves under intense psychological strain with their tendency towards paranoid thinking and delusional beliefs, causing mental strain even when a conspiracy theory turns out to be a verified plot.
She also looked behind the common public image of the conspiracy theorist as a crackpot.
Despite evidence of verified conspiracies, such as the Watergate scandal, the public viewed conspiracy theorists in as negative a light as they did convicted criminals, she said.
“For the label to be so negatively rated by the public is quite a powerful finding.”
Study participants were asked to recall a situation in which they had no control, describe it in detail, and write it down. They were then put in a “psychological space” in which they felt powerlessness and were given 24 pictures that looked like snowy television screens.
Half featured obscured objects such as a chair or tent, the other half nothing.
Those who scored highly on a form of psychopathology known as schizotypy were more likely to see an object in the images where there was none, indicating they were more likely to make connections between unrelated things.
“I also found that someone who creates conspiracy theories is more likely to have some form of psychopathology, or mental illness such as . . .
Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills.
Perception is one of the most commonly used tools of advertisers. If done correctly it can be used to sell a person a product or an idea, even if it’s something they do not want or need. All you need is an image combined with some information (factual or not) that catches a person’s eye and makes them interested in whatever is being sold which ultimately leads them to buying whatever it is that is being sold.
Promoters of pseudoscience and conspiracy theories know this as well, and will often times create pictures on the internet of images coupled with text in an attempt to get you to “buy” whatever claims that they are making.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Looks nice, doesn’t it? The pretty, smiling young woman that catches your eye and causes you to read whatever it is that the picture says and perhaps even gets you to try or believe whatever it is that the text is saying, which in this case is an advertisement to get people to try out Earthing.This is an example of using positive images inorder to fool people into believing that something that isn’t true. In this case it the original creator wants you to believe that Earthing works.
Now lets take a look at this next picture, courtesy of Illuminutti.com:
Not as nice looking as the previous picture, is it? Except for the photo in the bottom left side of the page, everything else about this picture is exactly the same as the one above this one.
Most people probably would . . .
I found this to be a great lesson in critical thinking. Check it out 🙂
How do you investigate hypotheses? Do you seek to confirm your theory – looking for white swans? Or do you try to find black swans? I was startled at how hard it was for people to investigate number sets that didn’t follow their hypotheses, even when their method wasn’t getting them anywhere.
This video was inspired by The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and filmed by my mum. Thanks mum!
It’s true. This extremely scientific graph proves it:
You can see that as the number of pirates in the world has decreased over the past 130 years, global warming has gotten steadily worse. In fact, this makes it entirely clear that if you truly want to stop global warming, the most impactful thing to do is — become a pirate.
Hope you’re laughing. My husband told me this wonderful premise a few months ago, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you, for a very specific reason. I’m fascinated by why it’s so funny. I believe it’s because it’s an only slightly more extreme version of the fake logic we hear every day — the conclusions that pass for critical thinking in these days of completely unleashed 24-7 communication. For example:
- Someone who has cancer drinks gallons of lemon water and their cancer goes into remission: they create a website to talk about how lemon water cures cancer.
- A business is doing badly and they move to a new building and things start to pick up: the CEO writes a book about how changing your environment is the key to success.
- Statistics show that people who leave their jobs after less than a year are more likely to smoke: someone starts a campaign to reduce smoking by encouraging people to stay at their jobs longer.
My older sister, a very wise and smart woman who is a political scientist at Syracuse University, teaches a statistics class to freshmen, where she endeavors to teach them critical thinking. She talks about this as being the most common error in logic: confusing simultaneity with causality. In other words, assuming that because two things are happening at the same time, they exist in a cause and effect relationship with each other.
Because anyone can say anything anywhere these days (pretty much), there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking floating around that seems more legitimate than it would have in former times because it’s in print. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge proponent of free speech. I just feel we all have to be more discriminating than ever before about what we believe. Not cynical or negative: discriminating.
So, when someone proposes a cause and effect relationship between two things – reduction in pirates causing global warming; Obama creating the global economic crisis; young people ruining American business – ask for the data that shows they’re related, rather than simply that they’re happening at the same time.
But if you’re dead set on becoming a pirate, I’m not going to stop you.
Via Dr. Phil.com
For the past four years, Matt, 51, claims that he has been stalked, wiretapped and hacked by thousands of people affiliated with a group that he calls “The Organization.” Matt says that he believes his stalkers are “cyber geeks” who have nothing better to do with their time and money than toy with people’s lives. Hear the evidence Matt says he has collected â€” and what a private investigator, hired by Dr. Phil, uncovers. Plus, Matt admits to past drug use involving methamphetamines but says that he’s been clean for six months. He agrees to both a drug test and a mental evaluation to prove that his claims are valid – what will the results show?
[ . . . ]
10: Beware of Cognitive Bias
Our brains are designed to make sense of the onslaught of sensory stimulation and information that they get from the world by filtering and organizing. We have a tendency to focus on certain details and ignore others, to avoid being overwhelmed. And we habitually organize information into patterns, based on things we’ve seen or learned about before. That leads us to process what we hear, read or see in a way that reinforces what we think we already know. That phenomenon is called cognitive bias (source: Science Daily).
To make matters worse, some theorize that we also engage in selective exposure — that is, we pick sources of information that tell us what we want to hear. Ohio State researchers, for example, found that when college students spent a few minutes reading news articles online, they selected ones that supported their already-held views 58 percent of the time (source: Hsu).
So, we’re vulnerable to information that fits what we want to believe — even if it’s of dubious authenticity. That’s probably why the infamous photograph of the Loch Ness monster, taken in 1934 (source: Nickell), was so convincing for many people. The silhouette resembled a long-necked dinosaur, which was something they had seen pictures of in natural history textbooks. And the idea that ancient creatures might have survived extinction already had surfaced in fiction such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel “The Lost World,” so it wasn’t too much of a leap conceptually. It wasn’t until 1994 that researchers got an elderly man who had been part of the hoax to reveal that the monster in the photo actually was a foot-high model, fashioned from a toy submarine (source: Associated Press).
9: Pay Attention to the Unspoken Message
If you’ve ever sold used cars or peddled vacuum sweepers door-to-door, you probably know this from experience: Researchers have found that an attractive physical appearance and positive nonverbal cues, like eye contact, smiling and a pleasant tone of voice, may have as much or more of an influence upon us than the actual words that the person is saying. In fact, someone who is skilled at nonverbal messaging can actually foster what communication experts call a halo effect. That is, if we think that a person looks good, we assume that he or she is intelligent or capable as well. That’s a big help in fostering credibility (source: Eadie). But just as a salesperson can learn to project a convincing demeanor, a swindler or a dishonest politician can practice the same tricks.
However, other nonverbal cues provide useful information for evaluating whether someone is telling the truth or a lie. Researchers who’ve studied the questioning of criminal suspects, for example, note that even highly motivated, skillful liars have a tendency to “leak” nonverbal clues to their deception in the course of a long interview, because of the difficulty of managing facial expressions, physical carriage, and tone of voice over time. The trick is to watch for those tiny flaws in the subject’s demeanor to emerge.
When making an untrue statement, for example, a person may flash a “microexpression”– a frown, perhaps, or a grimace — that reflects his or her true emotions, but clashes with what the person is saying. Since some of this microexpressions may happen as quickly as the blink of an eye, the easiest way to detect them is by replaying a video. But it is possible to do it in a real-time conversation as well. U.S. Coast Guard investigators trained in spotting such leakage, for example, have been able to spot such clues about 80 percent of the time (source: Matsumoto, et al.).
8: Watch for the Big Lie
Throughout history, purveyors of falsehoods seldom have bothered with piddling minor fibs. Instead, they generally have opted for what propaganda experts call the “Big Lie” — that is, a blatant, outrageous falsehood about some important issue, and one that’s usually designed to inflame listeners’ emotions and provoke them to whatever action the liar has in mind. The Big Lie is most often associated with Adolf Hitler, who advised in his book “Mein Kampf” that the “primitive simplicity” of ordinary people makes them vulnerable to massive deceptions. “It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and would not believe that others would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously,” the Nazi dictator wrote.
Ironically, even as he explained the method of the Big Lie, he used it to promote an especially brazen untruth — that Jews and Communists somehow had deceived the German people into thinking that their nation’s loss in World War I was caused by reckless, incompetent military leaders. The Nazi dictator was onto something, though perhaps even his own twisted mind didn’t grasp it: Some of the most effective Big Lies are accusations of someone else being a liar (source: Hitler).
Hitler, of course, didn’t invent the Big Lie, and a liar doesn’t necessarily have to be a bloodthirsty dictator to pull it off. But the best way to protect yourself against the Big Lie is to be an educated, well-informed person who’s got a broad base of knowledge and context. Sadly, we live in a culture where fewer and fewer people seem to have that background. In a 2011, Newsweek gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. citizenship test; more than a third scored a failing grade — 60 percent or lower — to questions such as “How many justices are on the Supreme Court?” and “Who did the U.S. fight in World War II?” That’s kind of scary (source: Quigley).
Australian survey finds people can reliably detect a change in surroundings, even if they cannot accurately describe it
If you can eerily detect the presence of unseen people or have prescient knowledge of danger, it may be disappointing to learn that scientists have ruled out the existence of a “sixth sense”.
A year-long University of Melbourne study, published in the journal Plos One, found that people could reliably detect a change in their surroundings, even if they could not accurately describe what that change was.
However, the research concluded that this was not due to any kind of supernatural ability, but rather from cues picked up from more conventional senses such as sight.
Researchers presented pairs of photos of a woman to 48 different people. In some cases, the appearance of the woman in one of the pictures would be different – such as a different hairstyle or the presence of glasses.
The pictures were shown to the subjects for 1.5 seconds with a one-second break between them. The people were then asked whether a change had occurred and, if so, to pick the change from a list of nine possibilities.
The results showed that while the subjects could “sense” a change had occurred, they could not verbalise what it was. While this confirmed to some subjects that they possessed a sixth sense, or extrasensory perception, researchers said it showed there was no such ability.
“What people were doing was processing information that they couldn’t verbalise but were picking up on, often subconsciously,” Dr Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences told Guardian Australia. “It’s a bit like an abstract painting – it doesn’t depict anything you can label, such as a sea or mountain, but you can still get a lot of information on what’s going on.
“The information was enough to tell them that a change had occurred, because they could tell the picture was more crowded, but not enough to say what that change was. Many believed they had a quasi-magical ability even though we had set them up.”
I just found an optical illusion that actually threw me off a little bit. I stared at this image, wondering what the optical illusion was and I came close to closing out of it and dragging it to the recycle bin, but I decided to post it. I was a bit shocked when I realized what happened. Stop reading this text right now, scroll down and patiently watch this optical illusion and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. No cheating, go look right now!
Now, this is a pretty cool picture and it’s taken from a movie that I really enjoy: The Shining. You see, I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies and this is definitely a creepy movie. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you’ll know that this is a classic one. Even though I liked this image, I didn’t know if it would work well on the site, but then I remembered that this is actually an optical illusion. You see, these are called cinemagraph optical illusions. If you like this image, you should use it on a message board or anywhere you’re active online. It will definitely catch people off-guard and they will love it.
Introduction by Mason i. Bilderberg (MIB)
How many times have you heard a paranormal investigator claim to see faces and images of the deceased in everything from a cinnabon swirl to a waft of smoke rising from a candle? Are they seeing the deceased? No. What they’re experiencing is a nearly uncontrollable urge by our brains to seek out and identify patterns. Especially human faces. This phenomenon has a name . . . Pareidolia:
«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia
«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.
«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary
How powerless are we to our own brains? Look at the image to the right and try to NOT see a very happy thermostat. Bet you can’t!!!
See? Our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.
Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
By animator and artist Aiden Glenn of Pizza and Pixels
Scientists have noticed that patients may experience improvements just from thinking they’ve had medicine, even if that medicine is fake. But why does the placebo effect work, and why do some researchers believe it’s growing stronger?
The brain apparently edits a person’s conscious experience retroactively.
Up to a half-second after an object disappears from view, the brain can “edit” the experience to retain that object, a new study from France shows. The finding may partly explain the weird feeling of being able to recall something you heard even when you don’t consciously remember hearing it.
The finding also contradicts the notion that the brain sequentially takes in sensory information, processes it and then consciously experiences it, said Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, whose books include “Consciousness Explained.”
“You have to get away from the idea that consciousness is like a movie that’s playing in your head and that once the processing is done happening then you’ve got this finished movie that you see.” Dennett told LiveScience. “The editing can go on and on.” [The 10 Greatest Mysteries of the Mind]
The results were published online Dec. 13 in the journal Current Biology.
Intuitively, people think of a linear progression from seeing or hearing something to consciously noticing it. But consciousness and perception may be more of a two-way street, said study author Claire Sergent, a cognitive scientist at Paris Descartes University.
To understand how visual consciousness works, Sergent and her team conducted trials involving 18 students. The participants were shown groups of lines appearing in a circle on either the right or the left side of the screen before they disappeared.
Sometimes the lines were too faint to consciously notice, while other times they were very obvious.
In some of the trials where the lines were very faint, the researchers drew participants’ attention to the spot where the lines had been by briefly dimming the circle — creating more contrast between the circle and the background. That “cueing of attention” happened up to a half-second after the lines disappeared.
MORE . . .
- The Brain Retroactively Edits Conscious Experience (livescience.com)
- What Is Consciousness? Go to the Video! (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D. via Psychology Today
Imagine that everything we think we understand about how the world works is, in fact, an elaborate hoax. Democracy is a sham designed to fool us into believing we are in control. That a small group of unknown, unaccountable elites is actually pulling the strings and pretty much deciding the course of history; everything from the world economy and the conduct of nations to the media and pop culture is under their complete control. Anyone who says otherwise has either been fooled by the conspiracy or is an agent of disinformation.
Conspiracy theories are now a firm feature of popular culture – the recent furore around Wiki-leaks provided compelling evidence for this. But the popularity of conspiracy theorising dates back to the shocking assassination of American President J.F.K. in broad daylight and in front of dozens of onlookers on November 22nd, 1963. Immediately, many people claimed that there was more than one gunman, and conspiracy theories arose implicating everyone from the CIA to the communists. More recently, films like Oliver Stone’s JFK and T.V. shows like The X-Files brought conspiratorial themes further into the mainstream. The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 have become perhaps the most widely debated events of the current generation. Many people doubt the ‘official’ story, believing instead that the events were the result of a conspiracy.
So, what has psychological research told us about belief in conspiracy theories? Not much. Indeed, so far only a handful of studies have looked at the personality of conspiracy theory believers. This research has found that believers tend to be lacking in trust and higher in levels of anomie – the feeling that things are generally getting worse – when compared to people with low levels of conspiracy beliefs. However, these findings show correlation, not causation. On the one hand, it may indicate that people’s conspiratorial beliefs are a result of their underlying lack of trust; people who see conspiracies behind everything are simply be projecting their own jaded view of the world onto events. Alternatively, lack of trust may follow from the perception of a conspiracy, reflecting a rational response to the reality of living in a world of conspiracy.
- Embarassing Conspiracy Theories Follow up: 9/11 Controlled Demolition: WTC 7 (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Holocaust Denial (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: 9/11 Controlled Demolition (illuminutti.com)
- Confessions of a Disinformation Agent, Chapter III: Debunking in the Heyday of 9/11 Truth. (illuminutti.com)
- How do you know a cult is dead? (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Drones were what really hit the WTC towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 (illuminutti.com)
- The 12 Most Popular Economic Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Reasons why People keep Believing in Debunked Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: The Government Kills Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)
I love illusions. I think you’ll really love these. These are not the usual, run-of-the-mill illusions. Watch, you’ll see what i mean. Very creative stuff that must’ve taken him a very long time to setup. Enjoy! 🙂
I call this kind of information “Brain Works.” All about how the brain works. I think (i HOPE) you’ll enjoy … 🙂
Whether they are supernatural or not, curses can have powerful, devastating effects
ARE CURSES REAL? Or are they just the stuff of superstition? You might have heard stories and legends of Gypsy curses and witches’ curses (you’ll find more of those below), but do they have real supernatural power?
A curse is an expression of or wish for misfortune, harm, evil, or doom by a person for another. Curses are not taken seriously by most educated people in the western world, yet they might retain their power and influence over those who believe in them. Belief could be the key to a curse’s power. If a person believes – even on a subconscious or psychological level – that he or she has been cursed, then its effects can be just as powerful as if it is supernatural in nature.
Consider the following reports of curses and their sometimes devastating effects, and judge for yourself whether they are produced by dark, sinister, external forces, or are brought about from the minds of those who have been cursed.
Keep reading: Curses! 4 Tales of Sinister Forces.
I’ve wondered why do people still believe in certain conspiracy theories, even after they have been totally debunked, or proven to be logically improbable.
From my observations of conspiracy theorists, I believe that there are five main reasons why some people still believe in conspiracy theories, even after they have been debunked.
Here are those five reasons:
- Confessions of a Disinformation Agent: Introduction and Chapter I. (illuminutti.com)
- Resources for debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 8 Ways to tell a Conspiracy Theorist is really a Fraud (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: The Pentagon was hit with a Missile on 9/11 (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: BP Oil Spill (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Tools of the Conspiracy Theorist Trade (illuminutti.com)
- Thrive, Zeitgeist and the Illusion of Conspiracy Activism. (illuminutti.com)
- Conspiracy Theory is Now an Art Form, Claims New Book CRYPTOSCATOLOGY from TrineDay (prweb.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Ancient Aliens Cover-up (illuminutti.com)
The number 13 is synonymous with bad luck. It’s considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a dinner party, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor and most people avoid getting married or buying a house on a day marked by this dreaded number. Particularly superstitious folks even avoid driving on Friday the 13th.
But is there any statistical proof to support the notion that Friday the 13th — or even just the number 13 itself — is unlucky?
“No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number,” said Igor Radun of the Human Factors and Safety Behavior Group at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Behavioural Sciences in Finland. “There is no reason to believe that any number would be lucky or unlucky.”
- Good luck – it’s Friday the 13th again (theage.com.au)
- Twitter Trending Topic: Funny Friday the 13th Tweets (ibtimes.com)
- Fear factor: It’s Friday the 13th again (content.usatoday.com)
- 13 Freaky Facts About Friday the 13th (sott.net)
- Responding to lucky and unlucky numbers (bbc.co.uk)
- Friday, The 13th ! (shreyathinks.wordpress.com)
- Adopt a Black Cat for $13 This Friday the 13th (laist.com)
You and your family are on holiday, driving round a mountainous part of Greece, when suddenly a tire bursts. You roll over and over down some 100 metres before a large olive tree blocks your fall. Amazingly, you all emerge from the battered heap. Some days later, at work, you recount the tale, struggling to capture for your colleagues one of the odder aspects of the experience. It was, you say, a bit like a dream – or maybe a slow-motion movie, it was like being outside yourself, unreal…
- Out-of-body experience highlights clues to consciousness (newscientist.com)
- Lucid dreamers could offer an ‘insight into consciousness’ (time4sleep.co.uk)
- Has Neuroscience Solved the Riddle of Consciousness? (bigthink.com)
- Out-of-Body Experiences Highlight the Nature of Consciousness (bigthink.com)
Beloved of spiritualists and bored teenagers on a dare, the Ouija board has long been a source of entertainment, mystery and sometimes downright spookiness. Now it could shine a light on the secrets of the unconscious mind.
The Ouija, also known as a talking board, is a wooden plaque marked with the words, “yes”, “no” and the letters of the alphabet. Typically a group of users place their hands on a movable pointer , or “planchette”, and ask questions out loud. Sometimes the planchette signals an answer, even when no one admits to moving it deliberately.
Believers think the answer comes through from the spirit world. In fact, all the evidence points to the real cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.
That’s why the Ouija board has attracted the attention of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Growing evidence suggests the unconscious plays a role in cognitive functions we usually consider the preserve of the conscious mind.
- Ouija board helps psychologists probe subconscious (wnd.com)
- SF Officials Use Ouija Board to Decide Vote (fox4kc.com)
The full moon has been linked to crime, mental illness, disasters, accidents, werewolves, and many other things. Does the scientific evidence support any of these links? Not really. Well, the science does favor one link: when the moon is waning (when the part we can see gets smaller), you would be well advised to stay out of the reach of hungry lions in the jungle. In the dark they can see us better than we can see them.
Why do people believe the full moon makes all kinds of things happen? There are several reasons.
Let’s begin with a common belief about the full moon: more people are admitted to hospitals during a full moon than at any other time of month. Is this true? No. Yet, many nurses say it is true because they have seen it happen. But the facts show that there are no more admissions to hospitals during a full moon than at any other time of the month. So why do some nurses believe in the full moon effect? The main reason is that believers rely on memory instead of keeping records.
Memory is tricky. If you believe that more people are admitted to the hospital during a full moon, then you may pay more attention to admissions when the moon is full. You may not pay much attention to the number of admissions on nights when the moon is not full. A scientist doesn’t rely just on memory.
Read More: full moon – Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids.
- The Debunker: Do People Go Crazy During A Full Moon? (woot.com)
- Can the Blue Moon Make You Crazy? (news.discovery.com)
- Photographer Spies Stunning Crescent Moon Over France (space.com)