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Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby ProfWag » 30 Jul 2010, 23:01

Scepcop wrote:Perhaps an equally valid question is:

Why do some people have a psychological block against conspiracies and cannot even think about them or assess them at all?

It does seem that some people have a need to believe in conspiracies and see them quickly while connecting dots, while others have a psychological block and never see them anywhere. There are highly intelligent people on both sides.

The ones with a block will never consider a conspiracy, and if you show them evidence or give them a great film to watch that shows a lot of evidence, they will simply not be interested and make excuses to get out of assessing it. I know some of these people. When you give them evidence of a conspiracy at work, they don't assess it or tell you what they think, they simply say "This subject just doesn't interest me" and conveniently avoid it. I don't see why. Mysteries and puzzles are always fascinating to me. But some just tune it out, even if they don't ridicule it, they always find an excuse to not pay any attention to it, or they act like they have zero interest in even pondering the subject at all. Some of these people are very intelligent and deep in other areas, but when conspiracies come up, there is some block in them.

Why is that I wonder?

I still think you should read Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things." It answered all the questions I had on this topic.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Paradox » 29 Nov 2010, 07:09

Why is there such a strong correlation between self proclaimed "skeptics" or "critical thinkers" and atheism, orthodox medicine, physicalism and opposing just about any type of conspiracy theory? I could reverse this question here. Actually the greatest scientists and inventors in history were criticised by the same orthodox status quo that exists today in the form of most self proclaimed "modern skeptics" who are really nothing more then obscurers trying to protect the status quo.

First of all not all of us psi supporters think in the way descibed in the OP. I'm a person that looks at many sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion. I do believe conspiracies are common, especially when it comes to corruption in our own government (mine being the U.S anyway) as Ron Paul so brilliantly points out. No I don't believe in every conspiracy theory hurled at me and I actually ridicule around 90% of them. I do believe some hold water like the JFK assassination and yes I've investigated this issue very thoroughly. I believe alien life is very likely outside of our own solar system but I don't believe there are UFO's inside of Area 51. These strange sightings by many who believe they are seeing UFO's are probally some very high tech aircraft the government has kept secret from us. I still believe it's possible that UFO's could visit earth but know I do not blindly believe everything I'm told. A true skeptic looks at both sides of a topic/issue before coming to a conclusion rather then assuming they know everything because it doesn't fit into their belief system. There is a such thing as a fundamentalist belief system as well as a fundamentalist disbelief system as well.

I don't put labels on myself. I investigate and then make a conclusion. If I'm still not sure after investigating something I don't assume I know the answer so I leave the issue at hand open for further investigation at a later date when time allows me to. In many cases of reading about reincarnation cases the Occam's Razor seems to go with side of reincarnation rather than the physicalists conclusions.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Arouet » 29 Nov 2010, 07:57

Paradox wrote:Why is there such a strong correlation between self proclaimed "skeptics" or "critical thinkers" and atheism, orthodox medicine, physicalism and opposing just about any type of conspiracy theory?


This is unsurprising. Many atheists (myself included) come to atheism through critical thinking (I became an atheist many many years before I'd ever heard of organized skepticism). Orthodox medicine is based on the scientific method, which is the epitome of critical thinking. I have no problem with alternative medicine - so long as it can withstand proper scientific exploration. Physicalism? I stay away from philosophical labels, but most self proclaimed skeptics will side with the scientific consensus about how what makes the universe work and how things work in that universe. And conspiracy theories are often based on a lack of critical thinking (I'll stay away from that one since I don't pay too much attention to them).

Now one can be supportive of some of those categories without being supportive of all of them. Take Bill Maher for example, and atheist, who radically distrusts orthodox medicine. But often skeptics will associate themselves with those general ideas.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby derrida » 29 Nov 2010, 08:21

ProfWag wrote:
Scepcop wrote:
I still think you should read Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things." It answered all the questions I had on this topic.


if isnt a 10minute youtube clip he will never get it
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Paradox » 04 Jan 2011, 09:39

Conspiracies have been occuring throughout history. Does this mean we should accept every conspiracy theory thrown our way? No. Should we be open minded enough to believe a conspiracy could or has happened? Yes. Apparantely the U.S founding fathers felt the same way. Many conspiracy theories do unfairly attack people's reputations and go too far. Look at all of the Obama or Prince Henry antichrist garbage out there. Some people want to believe in certain conspiracy theories especially when they support a certain political agenda. Others however at least can look at an issue or two and say, hey hold on here a second, this just doesn't match with what I've been told. It was very interesting to watch how Vincent Bugliosi ducked Jesse Ventura's tough questions on the JFK assassination. 'Anticonspiracy' theorists can hold a robotic type of blind faith to believing everything they're told by the authorities or government as well. Fair is fair. Let's investigate before coming to conclusions or at least keep an open mind here and avoid mixing apples with oranges. I find there is usually a correlation between alot of propaganda and certain philosophies regardless of which side of the fence people are on. I try to avoid labels. There are way too many conspiracy theories out there for me to count and it is usually pretty easy to tell which ones are ridiculous or which ones deserve further investigation. I reject the majority of conspiracy theories myself. No I'm not holding my breath waiting for 12/21/2012 or wanting to hang W Bush for planning the 911 attacks though in general I didn't care the the guy.

Just because I think everyone is out to get me it doesn't mean they aren't :) My favorite Einstein quote "condemnation without investigation is the height of ignornace".
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby really? » 05 Jan 2011, 08:32

Paradox wrote:Conspiracies have been occuring throughout history. Does this mean we should accept every conspiracy theory thrown our way? No. Should we be open minded enough to believe a conspiracy could or has happened? Yes. Apparantely the U.S founding fathers felt the same way. Many conspiracy theories do unfairly attack people's reputations and go too far. Look at all of the Obama or Prince Henry antichrist garbage out there. Some people want to believe in certain conspiracy theories especially when they support a certain political agenda. Others however at least can look at an issue or two and say, hey hold on here a second, this just doesn't match with what I've been told. It was very interesting to watch how Vincent Bugliosi ducked Jesse Ventura's tough questions on the JFK assassination. 'Anticonspiracy' theorists can hold a robotic type of blind faith to believing everything they're told by the authorities or government as well. Fair is fair. Let's investigate before coming to conclusions or at least keep an open mind here and avoid mixing apples with oranges. I find there is usually a correlation between alot of propaganda and certain philosophies regardless of which side of the fence people are on. I try to avoid labels. There are way too many conspiracy theories out there for me to count and it is usually pretty easy to tell which ones are ridiculous or which ones deserve further investigation. I reject the majority of conspiracy theories myself. No I'm not holding my breath waiting for 12/21/2012 or wanting to hang W Bush for planning the 911 attacks though in general I didn't care the the guy.

Just because I think everyone is out to get me it doesn't mean they aren't :) My favorite Einstein quote "condemnation without investigation is the height of ignornace".


A conspiracy that is a theory is what you have when you don't have facts. Facts are then fabricated. That's what separates conspiracies from conspiracy theories. That's the reason some people are not open to them.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Paradox » 05 Jan 2011, 14:01

Michael Shermer is one of the most religious individuals I've ever seen. His religion of 'obscurantism' and fundamentalist belief of anything considered orthodox is even greater than the most fiery 'brimstone and fire' hell preaching Evangelist. I think Shermer is just as narrow minded as Kent Hovind. This article by Shermer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-s ... 96812.html clearly is off the wall (this is just one of them). I've been researching the JFK assassination for over 10 years now and it's so obvious the reverend Shermer has not done his research. There are so many holes in his arguments on the JFK assassination I wouldn't know where to start in tearing apart his many articles on this issue to shreds.

I'm not familiar with Randi believe it or not and I only actually first even heard of him and his paranormal challenge less than 2 years ago so there is not too much I can say about James Randi. I'm much more familiar with Shermer however and I don't see how too many 'pseudosceptics' (new term to me) could be too much worse than him. Shermer goes too far here with this one. I've noticed that many sceptics will claim there is usually a strong correlation between conspiracy theories and belief in the paranormal. I also (again I'm saying this) there seems to be a very strong correlation between self'-described 'sceptics' or 'rationalists' and blind faith in authority and the orthodox viewpoint. I would like to see Michael Shermer debate Jesse Ventura on the JFK assassination. I see 'blind faith' from people like Shermer and like minded individuals.

I call out many self-described conservatives who blindly seem to agree with every viewpoint on the Republican plate. I call out many self-described liberals who seem to blindly agree with every viewpoint on the Democratic plate. I also see the same things when it comes to philosophies as well. Many religionists already have their minds made up regardless of what evidence is given to them. I see this blind faith with many conspiracy theorists who've never seemed to find a conspiracy they didn't fall in love with. Shermer has proven to me time and time again this blind faith also exists in his camp as well. I guess true free thinkers really are in short supply these days.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Arouet » 05 Jan 2011, 14:22

Paradox wrote:Michael Shermer is one of the most religious individuals I've ever seen. His religion of 'obscurantism' and fundamentalist belief of anything considered orthodox is even greater than the most fiery 'brimstone and fire' hell preaching Evangelist. I think Shermer is just as narrow minded as Kent Hovind. This article by Shermer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-s ... 96812.html clearly is off the wall (this is just one of them). I've been researching the JFK assassination for over 10 years now and it's so obvious the reverend Shermer has not done his research. There are so many holes in his arguments on the JFK assassination I wouldn't know where to start in tearing apart his many articles on this issue to shreds.


Let's say, for the sake of the argument, that Shermer is, indeed, wrong on his position on the JFK assassination - even this little light musing blog post you linked demonstrably falsifies the proposition that he has "blind faith" in the official version of events. Can you spot it?
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby ProfWag » 05 Jan 2011, 18:51

Arouet wrote:
Paradox wrote:Michael Shermer is one of the most religious individuals I've ever seen. His religion of 'obscurantism' and fundamentalist belief of anything considered orthodox is even greater than the most fiery 'brimstone and fire' hell preaching Evangelist. I think Shermer is just as narrow minded as Kent Hovind. This article by Shermer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-s ... 96812.html clearly is off the wall (this is just one of them). I've been researching the JFK assassination for over 10 years now and it's so obvious the reverend Shermer has not done his research. There are so many holes in his arguments on the JFK assassination I wouldn't know where to start in tearing apart his many articles on this issue to shreds.


Let's say, for the sake of the argument, that Shermer is, indeed, wrong on his position on the JFK assassination - even this little light musing blog post you linked demonstrably falsifies the proposition that he has "blind faith" in the official version of events. Can you spot it?

After reading the blog, I'm not sure what there is in his story that Paradox says needed to be researched. He went to the Plaza and made comments on distance and location. It appeared to me that he wasn't looking at what other people have said but made his own conclusion which is exactly what one should do. I have been there a few times myself, most recently last fall, and I drew the same conclusion. I earned a marksman ribbon when in the military, but I've only ever fired an M-16 and that's only been a relatively few times. Standing in the middle of where everything took place, I concluded that I probably could have pulled that off myself, especially if I had a scope on the rifle.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Arouet » 05 Jan 2011, 21:01

Bingo! He may be right. He may be wrong. But what he's not doing in that blog post is just "blindly" accepting anything. That was a weird article to attack Shermer for anyway since its pretty light on serious content. Steven Novella did a complementary blog post which goes into much more detail! http://theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=2620 His explanation of the head shot is pretty interesting.

Anti-skeptics like to throw this around a lot: "Blind faith". They portray it as if the skeptics are writing lengthy articles where all they are saying is: the government says this, and I agree with it because its from the government. Even a cursory read of skeptic literature puts the lie to this portrayal.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Paradox » 07 Jan 2011, 10:27

I'll admit that wasn't the best article to debate Shermer on about the JFK assassination (my fault) but I was trying to make a much bigger point here. It shows how Michael Shermer is really an establishment defender and not a true sceptic. I'm yet to see one time where Shermer has criticised anything concerning authority. If I'm wrong on this show me something and I'll take back my remarks about Shermer being an establishment defender. I think a true sceptic should be sceptical of everything whether it is' the story given to us by the government/authorities or not. This is the point I'm trying to make. I have read some other articles by Shermer on several topics and it is pretty obvious to me he has an agenda and it is definitely not that of a truth seeker. Looking at his disrespectful comments towards anything paranormal related does give me a negative opinion of him (Shermer).
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Arouet » 07 Jan 2011, 10:52

Paradox wrote:I'll admit that wasn't the best article to debate Shermer on about the JFK assassination (my fault) but I was trying to make a much bigger point here. It shows how Michael Shermer is really an establishment defender and not a true sceptic.


Alright stop. Scepcop tries to push this one too. The definition of a skeptic is one who withholds belief in a proposition absent reliable evidence in support of it. It has nothing to do with supporting any particular position.

To evaluate if someone is a skeptic, take a look at the arguments they make. Are they backing them up with reliable evidence? Are they attempting to do so? Are they providing logical reasons for their position? Do they have a rational grounding for their position?

These are questions to ask when evaluating whether someone is a skeptic or not.

As for the "establishment position": what the hell is that? I've never seen a good example? The government's POV? Which government? Which party? On the paranormal: what the hell is the "establishment" position on the paranormal? I have yet to hear the governments (any governments) official position on ghosts. Religion? What is the "establishment"s official position on religion? I'll tell you one thing its not: Atheism.

We can go on.

Most of what skeptics talk about don't really focus on governments anyway, with the exception of the conspiracy theory stuff. What do you want from Shermer, his views on the governments recent tax hike? Would it make you feel better if he said he opposed Obama on something? C'mon.

You guys want to attack Shermer? That's fine, but attack the arguments you've seen him make. Not the arguments you haven't seen him make. I've seen him make weak arguments, and I've seen him make strong ones. Go after him when he's weak. If he's giving an opinion without evidence, attack him for that. If he's wrong on something, point it out. But please stop this whole "all skeptic's do is support the establishment" BS. There is no establishment. Or rather: there are many establishments. All with different interests, sometimes even competing interests. And the change over time too! The establishment is not monolithic, especially in the sciences.

Anyhow: This is probably the type of example you are looking for: http://www.michaelshermer.com/2010/07/w ... tists-sin/

You came in here making some clearly well-thought out posts. I suspect the kind of post I'm responding to is beneath you.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby Arouet » 07 Jan 2011, 10:53

Arouet wrote:
Paradox wrote:I'll admit that wasn't the best article to debate Shermer on about the JFK assassination (my fault) but I was trying to make a much bigger point here. It shows how Michael Shermer is really an establishment defender and not a true sceptic.


Alright stop. Scepcop tries to push this one too. The definition of a skeptic is one who withholds belief in a proposition absent reliable evidence in support of it. It has nothing to do with supporting any particular position.

To evaluate if someone is a skeptic, take a look at the arguments they make. Are they backing them up with reliable evidence? Are they attempting to do so? Are they providing logical reasons for their position? Do they have a rational grounding for their position?

These are questions to ask when evaluating whether someone is a skeptic or not.

As for the "establishment position": what the hell is that? I've never seen a good example? The government's POV? Which government? Which party? On the paranormal: what the hell is the "establishment" position on the paranormal? I have yet to hear the governments (any governments) official position on ghosts. Religion? What is the "establishment"s official position on religion? I'll tell you one thing its not: Atheism.

We can go on.

Most of what skeptics talk about don't really focus on governments anyway, with the exception of the conspiracy theory stuff. What do you want from Shermer, his views on the governments recent tax hike? Would it make you feel better if he said he opposed Obama on something? C'mon.

You guys want to attack Shermer? That's fine, but attack the arguments you've seen him make. Not the arguments you haven't seen him make. I've seen him make weak arguments, and I've seen him make strong ones. Go after him when he's weak. If he's giving an opinion without evidence, attack him for that. If he's wrong on something, point it out. But please stop this whole "all skeptic's do is support the establishment" BS. There is no establishment. Or rather: there are many establishments. All with different interests, sometimes even competing interests. And the change over time too! The establishment is not monolithic, especially in the sciences.

Anyhow: This is probably the type of example you are looking for: http://www.michaelshermer.com/2010/07/w ... tists-sin/
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby ProfWag » 07 Jan 2011, 20:04

Outstanding points Arouet. This whole Shermer not challenging the establishment is simply ridiculous. Why do they want him to? I can't think of any reason other than they want someone like Shermer to give silly ideas some support. Arouet's point about atheism and the establishments is spot on.
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Re: Why Do Conspiracies Have so Much Appeal?

Postby really? » 07 Jan 2011, 22:31

I second what Arouet said.
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