On a scale of 1 to 7, do you think JFK was killed by the C.I.A.? The moon landing was faked? The Queen is an alien reptile? That might sound trite, but it’s how most psychological research into conspiracy theories has measured belief. Is this the best way to go about it? Continue reading
A short post today to bring you a great info-graphic detailing the poll results from the recent Public Policy Polling data. Click to enlarge for the best view!
The United States of Conspiracy
In 2010, politicians from the Utah House of Representatives urged the United States Environmental Protection Agency to immediately suspend policies aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Why? Global climate change, the politicians argued, is a fraud. According to the Utah Representatives, the apparent scientific consensus around anthropogenic climate warming is the product of a consortium of scientists who manipulate data, subvert the peer-review process, and attempt to bully the small minority of dissenting scientists into silence. Faking empirical support for global warming allows these “climate change alarmists” to ride “the climate change ‘gravy train’”. And so, rather than take steps to protect public health and the future of the planet by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the Utah politicians called instead for an “investigation of the climate data conspiracy.” Continue reading
Links to a few recent conspiracy-oriented stories from around the internet. Unsurprisingly, the major topic of conspiracy theorising over the past few weeks has been the Newtown shooting; conspiracy theories arose immediately after the tragedy and are still gaining strength. We’ve discussed the psychology of these kinds of theories here on the blog too – see these posts by myself, Mike, and Christopher.
- Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy stands by Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, and says 9/11 was a conspiracy, too – ‘…saying in a radio interview today that “crisis actors” may have been used to “embellish” the shooting, just as they did in 9/11.’
- Steve Novella discusses conspiracy theorists harassing the father of a child murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting – ‘“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’”’
- Snopes.com comprehensively debunks several Newtown conspiracy theories - ‘Video documents that the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were a staged hoax… The information presented in that video was a mixture of misinformation, innuendo, and subjective interpretation’
- Piers Morgan interviewed Alex Jones about his vocal gun-control conspiracy theorising in the wake of Sandy Hook - Morgan: “How many gun murders were there in Britain last year?” Jones: “How many chimpanzees can dance on a head of a pin?”
- In other news… Survey reports that 25% of Americans believe 9/11 conspiracy theories - ‘64% of Republicans Say Obama ‘Seems kind of Squirrelly’
- A scientist points out that science-denying conspiracy theories give scientists too much credit – ‘Conspiracies DO exist, but vast global ones are less likely. Especially if you include scientists. Chances are we won’t play along.’
- A newly published study by Dan Jolley and Karen Douglas looks at the consequences of conspiracism – ‘…exposure to information supporting the [climate change] conspiracy theories reduced participants’ intentions to reduce their carbon footprint’
Have I missed a good story? Let me know in the comments.
On Tuesday 11th December 2012, Mike and I recorded a radio interview for CSRfm‘s Brain Bites show, based on the psychology of conspiracy theories.
You can listen to the podcast of the show here: