An interesting article I came across in Time Magazine: “Why Smart People Still Believe Conspiracy Theories”
A coterie of academic stooges set out to prove that people who believe in “conspiracy theories” are of sub-normal intelligence. Unfortunately for them, their findings did not confirm their initial hypothesis – so they had to come up with another one, ie people believe what they want to believe. Which is probably equally true of people who insist that there is no conspiracy.
The researchers’ fundamental error was to assume that people who believe there is a conspiracy have no solid evidence to support their belief. Not true, guys and girls.
- Take a look at the Roman Catholic Church. One huge international conspiracy to keep the poor in slavery.
- Take a look at Wall Street and the world of international banking and finance. Another monumental conspiracy to hide the truth behind global economic imperialism.
- Take a look at the United States political system. Another major conspiracy aimed at convincing poor Americans that they actually have a say in how their government rules the country.
A few extracts from the Time article:
“Millions of Americans believe in conspiracy theories — including plenty of people who you might expect would be smart enough to know better.
Despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary, at least 20% of Americans still believe in a link between vaccines and autism, and at least 37% think global warming is a hoax*, according to a 2015 analysis. Even more of us accept the existence of the paranormal: 42% believe in ghosts and 41% in extrasensory perception. And those numbers are stable. A 2014 study by conspiracy experts Joseph Uscinski of the University of Miami and Joseph Parent of Note Dame University surveyed 100,000 letters sent to the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune from 1890 to 2010 and found that the percentage that argued for one conspiracy theory or another had barely budged over time.
Now, a study published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences provides new insights into why so many of us believe in things that just aren’t true: In some cases, we simply want to believe.
The second study was similar but also sought to correlate belief in conspiracy theories and the paranormal with overall cognitive ability. To determine this, the people answered a number of questions that measured their numeracy — or basic mathematical skills — and their language abilities.
What’s most troubling — and a little mystifying — is the fact is that so many people in the studies score high on all of the rational and intellectual metrics and yet nonetheless subscribe to disproven theories. That’s the case in the real world too, where highly educated people traffic in conspiratorial nonsense that you’d think they’d reject. In these cases, the study concluded, the reason may simply be that they’re invested—emotionally, ideologically—in believing the conspiracies, and they use their considerable cognitive skills to persuade themselves that what’s untrue is actually true. If you want to believe vaccines are dangerous or that the political party to which you don’t belong is plotting the ruination of America, you’ll build yourself a credible case.”
*Interestingly US presidents and CEOs of large corporations seem to subscribe to this one!