Psychologists are trying to determine why otherwise rational individuals can make the leap from “prudent paranoia” to illogical conspiracy theories
According to a Public Policy Polling survey, around 12 million people in the US believe that interstellar lizards in people suits rule our country. We imported that particular belief from across the pond, where professional conspiracy theorist David Icke has long maintained that the Queen of England is a blood-drinking, shape-shifting alien.
Conspiracy theories in general are not necessary bad, according to psychologists who study them. “If we were all completely trusting, it would not be good for survival,” explains Rob Brotherton, an academic psychologist and author of Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. “Sometimes people really don’t have our best interests in mind.”
But when people leap from thinking their boss is trying to undermine them to believing their boss might be a secret lizard person, they probably cross from what psychologists refer to as “prudent paranoia” into illogical territory.
And there are a lot of illogical ideas to pick from. Around 66 million Americans believe that aliens landed at Roswell, New Mexico; around 22 million people believe that the government faked the moon landing; and around 160 million believe that there is a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of former US president John F Kennedy.
While aliens and fake moon landings probably trigger eyerolls in many of us, defining what constitutes a conspiracy theory is difficult, Brotherton says. The government, for example, does sometimes conspire to do the unspeakable, such as the infamous 1930s Tuskegee study, initiated by the US government to examine untreated syphilis in African-American men. Researchers blocked research participants from receiving penicillin or exiting the experiment to get treatment. The study continued until a media report made it public. In this case, believing that the government was conspiring to keep people sick would have been completely accurate.
There are characteristics that help differentiate a conspiracy theory from prudent paranoia, Brotherton says. Conspiracy theories tend to depend on conspirators who are unduly evil, he explains, with genocide or world domination as a motive. Conspiracy theories also tend to assign an usually high level of competency to the conspirators, Brotherton adds, pointing out that when the government really does “shady stuff” it often isn’t able to keep it secret.
Chances are, we all know someone who believes some version of a conspiracy theory, which is why psychologists have been trying to understand what makes someone jump from logically questioning the world to looking for signs of lizard teeth in public figures. Research has shown that feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty are associated with a tendency to believe in conspiracies, says Karen Douglas, professor of social psychology at the University of Kent in the UK. Or as Joseph E Uscinski, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami and author of American Conspiracy Theories, puts it, “conspiracies are for losers”.
On Tuesday, the political fate of America was once again put to a vote. But for the millions of Americans who believe in lizard people, this vote had bigger implications — like thwarting an ongoing plot of world domination.
The idea of shape-shifting lizards taking human forms in a plot to rule America and the world has become one of the most majestic and marvelous conspiracy theories created by mankind (or lizardkind, if you will). In 2008, “lizard people” found its way onto the Minnesota’s midterm ballot with some controversy.
As pundits extrapolate on what the Republican win in the midterms means for the country, there are people around this country who hope their votes did something crucial — kept the country safe from lizard people for the next few years.
Here is a brief guide to this world of lizard people true believers.
What is a lizard person?
It’s just what it sounds like.
Lizard people are cold-blooded humanoid reptilians who have the power to shape-shift into human form. According to David Icke, a new-age philosopher and one of the most prominent theorists in the lizard people game, these creatures have had their claws in humankind since ancient time, and world leaders like Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, the Clintons, and Bob Hope are all lizard people.
“Encroaching on other conspiracy theorists’ territory, Icke even claims that the lizards are behind secret societies like the Freemasons and the Illuminati,” Time reported.
Icke’s 1998 book, The Biggest Secret, is considered an important tome in lizard people theory.
Wait. People actually believe in this stuff?
How many Americans believe in lizard people?
Back in April of 2013, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll about conspiracy theories like aliens, an impostor Paul McCartney, and, of course, lizard people. And the polling organization found that 4 percent of Americans believe in lizard people, while another 7 percent were unsure. Taken to its absurd extreme, that would imply around 12 million Americans, Philip Bump, a lizard person scholar and writer at the Washington Post, found. (Public Policy Polling is a serious outlet, but it’s also known for some trolly polls, so these results have to be taken with a grain of salt.)
Keep in mind that this might not be counting all the people who, in their heart of hearts, believe that lizard people exist but are nervous that they will be found out if they publicly disclose their beliefs.
How do those who believe in lizard people know when someone is a lizard person?
There are many differing theories. If you look at the forums on Icke’s site, there are numerous posts either telling people how to spot lizard people or asking how to pick a lizard person out from the crowd.
Bump, one of the top lizard person journalists in the field, made a handy guide last year that culled lizard-person identifiers. Here’s the list of lizard person tells:
by Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia
There’s an odd tendency of conspiracy theorists to eat their young.
Not literally, of course. I wouldn’t want that to get out as some kind of meta-conspiracy-theory. But I’ve noticed that although the conspiracy theories themselves never seem to die, the conspiracy theorists seem to have a relatively short half-life before they implode.
Again, not literally. Don’t get your hopes up.
I think the reason for this is that once you abandon logic and evidence as the sine qua non of understanding, you are out in some kind of netherworld of lies, suppositions, and paranoia, and it’s only a matter of time before you become victim to the same foolishness you were perpetrating. You give people the impression that no one is to be trusted, that anyone and everyone could be part of the conspiracy, and before you know it, your followers have decided that you’re right… and include you in the assessment.
Icke was outed, fittingly enough, in a YouTube video in which he is caught “shape-shifting into a Reptilian.” Odd, isn’t it, that these Reptilian overlords of ours are brilliant enough to infiltrate themselves into every level of government, break into the sanctum sanctorum of military intelligence, and then can’t remember to keep their costumes in place when they’re on the air? But yes, you heard it here first: Icke, who said that Reptilians are in control of everything from the CIA to the U.S. public education system, is himself a Reptilian.
Even more wryly amusing is the fact that Alex Jones had the whistle blown on the site Before It’s News, because they’re about the only website that is even more bizarrely paranoid than Jones’s own site InfoWars. Here’s the exposé about Jones . . .
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Also See: Who are the Anunnaki? What is the Planet Nibiru? (iLLuMiNuTTi.com)
When you dive into the world of conspiracy theories (either as a skeptic, or a conspiracy theorist, or just a curious onlooker) you will ultimately come across some conspiracy theories that sound really, really bizarre…
In fact ever since I started doing serious skepticism and debunking and investigating conspiracy theories I have found conspiracy theories so strange that I could never have possibly have thought of them (which is probably a good thing).
Now while there are a lot of things I have noticed about bizarre conspiracy theories, I have narrowed it down to five different things.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about bizarre conspiracy theories:
5. They’re indicators of mental illness.
First I want to say that anyone who believes that the world is controlled by shape-shifting aliens, or that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by lasers, or that the government is using radio signals to attack peoples minds, or believes in crisis actors, or believes that chemtrails are real is not necessarily mentally ill… I’m just saying it’s a pretty strong indicator of mental illness, especially when you consider the fact that others who also believe in such conspiracy theories have engaged in behavior that strongly indicates that they are mentally ill (such as making long and incoherent rants, or harassing people, or making threats), or actually has been found out or proven to be mentally ill.
It’s not just the people who believe in them either. Many of the people whom have created the most bizarre conspiracy theories out there are they themselves believed to be mentally ill. Even the ones who are very intelligent and hold college degrees, but come up with these weird conspiracy theories, are automatically assumed to be mentally ill because it’s really the most logical explanation for many skeptics concerning a person whom is very smart but believes in really weird stuff.
4. There is no deep end to them.
Have you ever heard or read about a conspiracy theory that made you think, “there is no way that there can be something stranger than this…” Well, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but trust me when I say this, there is a conspiracy theory out there that is more bizarre than what you have just heard or read about. And if there isn’t one, one will be invented soon enough.
Now I don’t blame anyone for believing that whenever they hear about a crazy conspiracy theory that they believe that it is the craziest conspiracy theory out there, I use to believe that myself when I came across a really bizarre conspiracy, but then I would be proven wrong again and again whenever I kept coming across one even more bizarre than the next one, it kind of destroyed my ability to believe that there is a bottom to conspiracy theory craziness.
In fact some are so bizarre that…
3. They are confused for satire.
It really should not surprise anyone that there are some conspiracy theories out there that are either so weird, or so bizarre, that some people don’t believe that it is a real conspiracy theory (well, as real as one can be) and that it was made up as a parody of other conspiracy theories, or some type of satire, or, as some conspiracy theorists may claim, dis-information.
This is something that even I have assumed at times whenever I see a bizarre conspiracy theory, either in the hope that no one can seriously be so crazy that they could come up with such a thing, or that it just looks like satire.
In fact some have actually turned out to be satire (or a hoax) but because some conspiracy theorists can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is fake, some of them assume that it is real.
- Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? (illuminutti.com)
- 6 Conspiracy theories that make people paranoid (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Michael Hastings: 5 Conspiracy Theories That Didn’t Pan Out (illuminutti.com)
- How “The Matrix” inspired Conspiracy Theorists (and Vice-Verse) (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Conspiracy Theories that would be easy to prove (illuminutti.com)
- Are conspiracy theorists really the sane ones? (wnd.com)