Believe in conspiracy theories? You’re probably a narcissist: People who doubt the moon landings are more likely to be selfish and attention-seeking … Psychologists from the University of Kent carried out three online studies … -UK Daily Mail
We are seeing an increasing number of academic studies analyzing the psychology behind “conspiracy theorists” and those who question government propaganda. The idea being that people who don’t trust government may be mentally ill.
These analyses are published in prominent publications in the UK and are building a “scientific” literature revolving psychological dysfunction and “conspiracy theory.”
Do you think the moon-landings were faked, vaccines are a plot for mind control, or that shadowy government agencies are keeping alien technology locked up in hidden bunkers?
If so, chances are you’re a narcissist with low self-esteem, according to psychologists. In the internet age conspiracy theories can incubate in quiet corners of the web, but it may be psychological predispositions of believers which keep them alive, rather than cold hard facts.
The article goes on to explain that researchers at the University of Kent have used online studies from hundreds of people to generate the study’s conclusions.
The findings appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science with the suggestion that those who adopt conspiracy theories have “outwardly inflated self-confidence” but may be “overcompensating for a lack of belief in themselves.”
The article mentions a previous study conducted by Oxford’s Dr. David Robert Grimes.
From what we’ve written on this study:
Grimes had the idea that mathematics could prove or disprove certain conspiracy theories. A physicist, he “developed a mathematical equation to derive the truth of conspiracy theories,” according to the Christian Science Monitor …
Grimes calculated that the moon landing and climate change conspiracies “would require about 400,000 secret-keepers each, the unsafe vaccination conspiracy would involve 22,000 people, and the cancer cure conspiracy would involve over 710,000 people.” Even with the utmost secrecy, Grimes reports, his equations show within four years the conspiracies would be exposed nonetheless.
At the time, we commented on Grimes’s apparent “earnestness” in struggling to “understand how people can even engage in conspiratorial thinking to begin with.” We made this comment in relationship to yet a third article on the psychology of conspiracy.
This commentary appeared in the Guardian and, as we pointed out, “argued against conspiratorial thinking based on a new book, Suspicious Minds … written by Rob Brotherton.”
Basically, the idea is that people are naturally prone to conspiracy theories because of the way their brains have evolved. “Identifying patterns and being sensitive to possible threats,” the article explains, “is what has helped us survive in a world where nature often is out to get you.”
Brotherton explains in the article that he decided that the best way to present his thesis was to avoid confronting conspiracy theories head on. Instead, he wanted to explain how people adopted such theories for psychological reasons.
“I wanted to take a different approach, to sidestep the whole issue of whether the theories are true or false and come at it from the perspective of psychology. The intentionality bias, the proportionality bias, confirmation bias. We have these quirks built into our minds that can lead us to believe weird things without realising that’s why we believe them.”
So here we have three explanations of conspiracy theories presented by major publications in less than three month’s time. And, who knows, perhaps there were more.
In the conclusion to our Grimes’ analysis, we noted that: “It looks as if a more powerful and disciplined program may be underway. Something to ponder along with a further moderation of certain public declarations.”
By “public declarations” we meant those of individuals prone to mentioning conspiracy theories in non-appropriate contexts. As it turns out, we anticipated the current news cycle only by a couple of months.
Just this week, in fact, Attorney General Loretta Lynch attended a Senate Judiciary Hearing and acknowledged discussions at the Department of Justice of taking civil action against “climate change deniers.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) questioned her on the issue and drew comparisons between such deniers and the tobacco industry that claimed for decades that the tobacco was not proven to cause ill health.
The Clinton administration eventually brought a successful civil suit against Big Tobacco. And Whitehouse suggested that civil or criminal charges might be brought against “anti-warmists.”
The forces of intolerance are gathering in the US, just as overseas.
We have urged in the past that people pay close attention to these growing trends. By turning statements of opinion into a psychological condition they are trying to discredit anyone who speaks out against the government.
In the Soviet Union, people who spoke out against government policies were often placed in mental asylums. At the time, concerned citizens in the West protested such incarcerations as barbaric abuses. Yet now, if our supposition is correct, these practices are about to expand in the West as well.
Conclusion: This attack on dissent is serious. Educate your family and friends about what’s going on. Do not be fooled by their propaganda, but beware of the risks of speaking out too freely.
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