What happens when you study conspiracy theories? The conspiracy theorists make up conspiracy theories about you!

Mark Hoofnagle takes up the plight of beleagured conspiracy theory researchers at Science Blogs:

I’ve known about this effect for a while as I’ve been variously accused of being in the pocket of big pharma, big ag, big science, democrats and republicans etc. Now Stephan Lewandowsky, in follow up to his “NASA Faked the Moon Landings – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax.” paper, has used these conspiratorial responses to study how conspiracy theorists respond to being studied! It’s called “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation.”

Here’s the abstract:

Conspiracist ideation has been repeatedly implicated in the rejection of scientific propositions, although empirical evidence to date has been sparse. A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and the rejection of other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS (Lewandowsky, Oberauer, & Gignac, in press; LOG12 from here on). This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking. For example, whereas hypotheses were initially narrowly focused on LOG12, some ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors of LOG12, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. The overall pattern of the blogosphere’s response to LOG12 illustrates the possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science, although alternative scholarly interpretations may be advanced in the future.

Awesome. It’s actually a great paper, from the introduction discussing Diethelm and Mckee’s work on conspiratorial ideation (who cited us in their original paper), to the comparisons between censorship accusations by diverse anti-science movements from the tobacco/cancer denial to HIV/AIDS denial, Lewandowsky et al., lay the groundwork for understanding this problem as a fundamental characteristic of all anti-science. They even cite a book chapter in which the authors make the link that conspiracies are specifically used to rhetorically challenge science when one lacks adequate data…

[continues at at Science Blogs]

Photo: Stephan Krause (CC)

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  • Matt Staggs

    In Soviet Russia…etc. etc.

    • http://twitter.com/TheConspiracyHQ Conspiracy HQ

      It seems we are now the target of some psychological operation. Since Sandy Hook the media has been demonizing anyone that identifies as a “conspiracy theorist”.

      Well, I’m a proud Conspiracy Theorist, and while I don’t always agree with my fellow “tin foil hat” wearing people, I do think we provide a valuable service.

      Question everything, trust no one.

      • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil

        You are the target of a psychological operation called “being delusional”. Its origins can be found in your brain, which has lost the path.

        This anti-intellectual claptrap needs to be demonized. It hurts people.

        • SoruhFrake

          Who hurts people? A conspiracy theorist minding his own business and changing his own lifestyle, or of course government and mainstream science who are the 2 major culprits of human death in our entire history ?

          Perhaps you should find the path to your own brain? From your writing it is quite clear you’ve not found it yet^^

        • SoruhFrake

          Who hurts people? A conspiracy theorist minding his own business and changing his own lifestyle, or of course government and mainstream science who are the 2 major culprits of human death in our entire history ?

          Perhaps you should find the path to your own brain? From your writing it is quite clear you’ve not found it yet^^

          • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil

            Have you not noticed that these people tend to go on mass shooting sprees?

          • SoruhFrake

            Where in america?:P I think the reason for that is that your government is doing that. Here in europe you hardly ever hear of mass shootings and if there is such a case, it is most often some depressed loner kid at some german school. Sorry to say the only country where the above rings true is america, and from across the pond most of the conspiracy theories on your side are seen as fact on this side. ;) I mean those concerning the USA government ;)

          • Ittabena

            Yeah I have to agree. As Moore pointed out in one of his films crime is way down, but the coverage it receives is way way up. The ONLY reason to buy up all the media outlets til they are in the hands of only six creatures is to play us like the fiddles we are.

            Thank God Bill Hicks was right; “It’s just a ride”

          • SoruhFrake

            Have you noticed the high suicide rates of your current world system? :P Have you seen the innocents murdered for the war on terror? Have you heard the hunger screams of those that have no food cause we need our supermarkets stock full with garbage and chemicals, which we toss away half of anyway? Have you heard the pleads of those living on a 1 dollar income in asia for a easier life and enough food to nourish their family, we pay for each electrical device several salaries, but the money goes to some rich asshole who can’t profit enough.

            I could’nt care less about a few deaths in a country that is the very origin of the disease called consumerism, the very disease that is turning the whole world into a giant shopping mall, and making us the honorable servants who need to proudly consume to support this devilish system. For all I care let the western people have some death and misery, since we really aren’t doing much to stop the very same elsewhere.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            give it time, suicide may be the number one cause of death in due time… then maybe we can blame conspiracy theory

          • SoruhFrake

            Every term is vague, be it politics, democrat, spiritual, religious, conspiracy theory, atheist, agnostic. This is why I find a study as the above is a waste of time and money, just creating more reason among others to fight over petty things like the meaning of labels and the truth behind them. I’m sorry to say I don’t believe in conspiracy theorists, nor politicians, nor democrats, nor republicans nor atheists, nor christians or muslims or whatever else you want to label yourself. Labels are there to facilitate communication, nothing more than that, for every label has ideas that contradict and others that are in support for each other. I see a world filled with humans, that are fighting over words, I don’t need to base myself on a conspiracy theory to realize that something is wrong with the humans in our society, because despite the fact that in nature most animals grow to an old age without complications the human being is the most disease susceptible being on the planet, and the same goes for humanities mental state, and I doubt nature did anything wrong, the only real mistakes I’ve seen are Human mistakes, and our world has a lot of them. People fighting over little fantasies, I fight for my right to freedom. The freedom to do with myself as I wish, and as I want as long as it doesn’t restrict another freedom.

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          The problem is with the vagueness of the term. Conspiracy theory ranges all the way from one side as moon-landing deniers, all the way over to the others that want things like the LIBOR scandal to be known; this is with many varying colors in between. Giving it all one monolithic label is insulting to anyone who actually tries to check facts

      • Matt Staggs

        In Soviet Russia joke misses you!

  • http://profiles.google.com/pcwag33 Pete Wagner

    “we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking.” Sounds like spy vs. spy. Last thing said wins? Best thinking comes from the gut anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil

      There’s no brain in your gut.

      • Calypso_1

        You are incorrect. It has the most complex neural network outside of the CNS, & is referred to as the ENS. It is a complex soup of neurotransmitters & its developmental cell line is what allowed vertebrates to even develop their more complex cranial and sensory nervous systems.

      • Calypso_1

        You are incorrect. It has the most complex neural network outside of the CNS, & is referred to as the ENS. It is a complex soup of neurotransmitters & its developmental cell line is what allowed vertebrates to even develop their more complex cranial and sensory nervous systems.

        • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil
          • Calypso_1

            you really don’t want to get into this with me.

            Try reading a book:

            http://www.amazon.com/The-Second-Brain-Groundbreaking-Understanding/dp/0060182520

            if 2 hard here iz wiki:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enteric_nervous_system
            “The enteric nervous system has a complete network of neurons, neurotransmitters,
            and special proteins responsible for communications, “thinking,” “remembering,”
            and “learning”. As a result, the enteric nervous system is sometimes called a
            “second brain”

            or quote from very most authoritative expert

            “The enteric nervous system is of special interest because it is the only substantial grouping of neurons outside the central nervous system that form circuits capable of autonomous reflex activity. In humans it contains around 500 million neurons that fall
            into about 20 functional classes. Because of its size, complexity, and certain structural
            similarities, it has been likened to a second brain.”

            The Enteric Nervous System
            John Barton Furness PhD

            I would like to point out that the number of neurons in the human ENS is more than the entire number of neurons in an octopus which is considered one of the most intelligent creatures on earth. Or shall we compare the number of neurons in the brain of a rat, which is also a rather clever creature. It has approx. 200 million neurons.
            So the human gut alone is a bigger neural net than two rat brains or an entire octopus.

          • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil

            When I said “brain” I meant “brain”. No amount of repugnant pretension will change the meaning of the word.

          • SoruhFrake

            You weave your own reality with the limitations you let words hold. Despite the fact that consciousness has never been located specifically in any one spot in the human body, I guess you fully believe that your brain=you?

            You see if you live in a world where only the possible is possible, good luck in inventing anything, for that necessitates the ability to venture into grounds that range far away from ” possible”, the realms of impossible are to many just that “impossible, whereas I prefer to suppose that no one model of understanding reality is correct, for each and everyone is merely upheld by the beliefs and ensuing perception received by that very model of choice we choose to base our reality on.

            “The real secret of magic, is that the world is
            made of words. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you
            can make of it whatever you wish.”

            That quote holds a big secret in my opinion. Ponder on it and if you haven’t understood what I tried to say with my message, you might understand it by understanding the quote. ^^

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            Keeping an open mind while trying to draw hard lines on what is what in terms of biological function can get you dizzy in a hurry. All of a sudden microscopic critters that don’t have your DNA get thrown into the mix, then it’s on to the surrounding environment and ecology. Oh shit, we’re all integrated with the Universe. How did this happen?

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            Who’s to say single celled organisms aren’t conscious?

          • Calypso_1

            When some people say things, they don’t know enough to know they don’t know what they are talking about.

            When I use pretense it is with prerequisite knowledge enough to proceed into a deeper understanding of which you could have partaken. Instead unable to recognize such you failed to understand that words do indeed change with understanding. An understanding you should also attempt is this: repugnance also means the relationship of inconsistencies, & thus ‘truths’. And in relation to minds big & little, consistency has been well attributed to the latter.

            Your insults are accolades & indeed it is the pretense & ability of those who repugn each mote of human ignorance that changes both the meaning of words & makes them bring forth fruits beyond what ‘truth’ could previously bear.

          • Calypso_1

            When some people say things, they don’t know enough to know they don’t know what they are talking about.

            When I use pretense it is with prerequisite knowledge enough to proceed into a deeper understanding of which you could have partaken. Instead unable to recognize such you failed to understand that words do indeed change with understanding. An understanding you should also attempt is this: repugnance also means the relationship of inconsistencies, & thus ‘truths’. And in relation to minds big & little, consistency has been well attributed to the latter.

            Your insults are accolades & indeed it is the pretense & ability of those who repugn each mote of human ignorance that changes both the meaning of words & makes them bring forth fruits beyond what ‘truth’ could previously bear.

          • alizardx

            What Calypso_1 is discussing is accepted mainstream science. If you’re going to be a public defender of Official Reality, get up to speed on what it is first. The scientific consensus has changed on many things since you last took science in school.

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            Fascinating.

          • Calypso_1

            And we didn’t even broach the subject of the ENS symbiosis with a bacterial ecosystem that has more cells than your entire body. Even the tip of the tongue has a unique biotic culture involved in the metabolic pathway of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule.

          • Calypso_1

            And we didn’t even broach the subject of the ENS symbiosis with a bacterial ecosystem that has more cells than your entire body. Even the tip of the tongue has a unique biotic culture involved in the metabolic pathway of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule.

          • Ittabena

            Testify Calypso! Testify!

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          you beat me to it :(

  • Anarchy Pony

    That must be what it’s like to see over the event horizon, or to look into The Monolith.

    • Calypso_1

      And behold Ye the Glory when the Horizon looks back into You.

    • Calypso_1

      And behold Ye the Glory when the Horizon looks back into You.

  • Juan

    The fact that these people put a psychological/disease label, i.e., “conspiratorial ideation” on . . . a widespread cultural phenomenon, does not in any way mean that conspiracies do not exist.
    It just means that the other person’s conspiracy theories are obviously nuts, while your favorite conspiracy theories are the best model of the situation, based on whatever evidence you have considered, that you can come up with at the moment. Either that, or your are happily slumbering in your pod, feeding The Matrix.
    Any person with more than a quarter inch of forehead is aware that things are a long way from how they are presented to the public on the various mainstream media outlets. This is a fact of our current postmodern existence.
    When you have a media space that is essentially some garish, carnivalesque spectical, designed to keep people enthralled and in fear, it’s no wonder you have a proliferation of conspiracy theories. Even if some people are incapable of articulating exactly what’s happening, it is obvious that they are at least aware that something is definitely not right.
    Perhaps this study itself is a form of pysops.
    Getting really deep into conspiracy theories can drive a person quite mad. There is no certainty, and I guess the best way to keep from going full tin foil hat is to cultivate an acceptance of ambiguity and to maintian an agnostic postion in regard to your current models.

    • SoruhFrake

      Great Post Juan :)

      What I have to say to people is merely forget all the crap around you and learn to live empowered instead of bothering about conspiracy theories as such, believe yourself, question everything, do what you will.
      The rest can fight over whether conspiracy theories are true or not, or if it is a mental disease or not. I don’t give a fuck anymore how people live their lives, I’ll do what I want, and enjoy my own life as free as I can manage. Someone want to vote for politics go vote, I didn’t support the system and will never vote, and everytime a new fucker is voted I can say hell I am not to blame. Want to buy a hamburger go ahead and buy it and eat it, I won’t be supporting mc donalds. You think fluoride is good for your teeth by all means bathe in it, I really don’t mind, (my teeth are whiter ever since I stopped using it and less sensitive to extreme cold and hot)
      Want to get the newest flu vaccination to protect you’re precious life without even having a clue what it’s made of, be my guest. Want to get yourself a big fat loan, just so you can buy the stuff you think you need and get the bigger house to fit all you think you need, go ahead but don’t whine when you are having trouble paying the banks back. Want to live your life working for the profit of the state, then realize that once you hit your pension you can probably expect the retirement age to go up even higher, so that you work until you literally drop dead, by all means go ahead and enjoy^^

      All I can say is I don’t need conspiracy theories to be proven wrong or right, to know that a lot of things are just not right in our current system, and instead of fighting about what’s true or not, I believe everyone should make their own personal choice and stick to what they think is right for them. Tired of how stupid people are cause they can’t live a life without copying everyone else just to make sure they’re “normal”…..the world is in my eyes mostly insane.

      I mean depression is a disease nowadays, while whenever I’m depressed I try to find out what my psyche, my mind, my soul whatever it is, is trying to make clear to me. People don’t get depressed like they get a cold, they get depressed cause they have no clue who they are, where they are, what they’re doing, where they’re going, or what it is they are living for.

      I don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to mind my own business and follow my own truth, being part of the system or not is a personal choice.

      We can argue about right or wrong all day but what I find more smart is just not support what we deem wrong and hope that others will make their own choices.

      If you’re not happy with how tax money is spend, then make a community of people which refuse to pay taxes, since you are not okay with how it is spent, we are supporting something that needs us to be supported. Protests, votes, new laws etc are not going to change a thing, either everything changes completely or everything gets worse in the fashion it has been evolving in the past few decades.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      The problem is complicated to say the least. When you say something like “Perhaps this study itself is a form of pysops.” you fall into a problem that burns any olive branches with the “other” here. You have to understand that while scientists may be (or at least strongly believe themselves to be, which is almost good enough) quite intelligent people, they completely lack, and can hardly grasp the perspective that is quite obvious to you. They are trapped in a matrix just the same as you described, and being told that they are part of a psy-op is absolutely absurd to them, and as offensive to them as them saying you are afflicted with “conspiratorial ideation”.

      Despite all this, I agree with everything else you said.

  • http://twitter.com/DrinkyMcGee Daniel Cecil

    Every time I post on a certain Texas-based fat boy’s web site, I get accused by his sheeple of being in the pay of the cabal that controls every aspect of their pathetic, helpless lives. And then they say something about giving me an Obamaphone and waking up and so on. It certainly saves them from having to, you know, form a coherent defense of their insane positions.

    • I_abide

      In small amounts said show is hilarious even if the target audience is a bit frightening.

    • Juan

      I’m bored and it’s a slow day at work. Think I’ll go troll those bastards for a laugh. Maybe I’ll pretend to be a UN stooge who wants to take their precious guns and put them all in concentration camps, or some shit like that.
      Bilderbergers, Trilateral Commission, CFR, UN, now shit yourselves with fear! Muah, ha, ha, ha.

    • echar

      For all we know, you could be that “Texas-based fat boy”. Creating a monster is a good way to drum up support and business.

      Anyone want some popcorn?

      • Ittabena

        No, but i wouldn’t mind some quick revenue from some DVD sales myself.

    • Ittabena

      Yeah, I had to swear him off. Too much hive-mind think going on there. I do not trust the Fat kid either, not after what he did to Catherine Bleish in Austin. I went from there to ATS, and guess what? It’s pretty much the same there. So now I am here and much happier. Should I call you a troll for old times sake?

      BTW get a stop watch and go back on his sight and post something about religion. Watch how fast your comment disappears. Use the Councils of Nicaea and the resulting Ecumenical Councils as a subject. That always got me cut quick.

  • 1captainhooker1

    I prefer to think of conspiracy theorists as “sheep from a smaller herd”.

  • charlieprimero

    Cool beans. Their hysteria demonstrates that we Conspiracy Theorists are making progress.

    • BrianApocalypse

      Your response was actually predicted by the paper in question.

    • BrianApocalypse

      Your response was actually predicted by the paper in question.

  • hucksawyer

    I thought by now all serious people knew “conspiracy theorist!” is just what you call someone whom you want to discredit. Conspiracies happen all the time: British homosexual spies worked as double agents for the KGB, the bankers fixed LIBOR, the CIA ran drugs in Iran-Contra, the Nazis and the Bolsheviks conspired to take over large and powerful nations, the P2 Lodge contained half of Italy’s elite, etc etc. These are all basic facts of history.
    Moreover, there is a legal notion of “conspiracy,” and every day people go to jail for having committed “conspiracies.”

    But if you say that there are powerful conspiratorial networks with shady goals in major organizations such as the US government and the Vatican; or that the bankers constantly conspire for the increase of their own power; or that a gang of Trotskyite “neocons” conspired to take over the US government; or that Masons wield or at least have wielded significant influence over major countries and important events – “conspiracy theorist!”

    OK…

  • hucksawyer

    I thought by now all serious people knew “conspiracy theorist!” is just what you call someone whom you want to discredit. Conspiracies happen all the time: British homosexual spies worked as double agents for the KGB, the bankers fixed LIBOR, the CIA ran drugs in Iran-Contra, the Nazis and the Bolsheviks conspired to take over large and powerful nations, the P2 Lodge contained half of Italy’s elite, etc etc. These are all basic facts of history.
    Moreover, there is a legal notion of “conspiracy,” and every day people go to jail for having committed “conspiracies.”

    But if you say that there are powerful conspiratorial networks with shady goals in major organizations such as the US government and the Vatican; or that the bankers constantly conspire for the increase of their own power; or that a gang of Trotskyite “neocons” conspired to take over the US government; or that Masons wield or at least have wielded significant influence over major countries and important events – “conspiracy theorist!”

    OK…

  • BuzzCoastin

    the one thing all conspiracy theories have in common is
    it’s usually useless knowledge
    that could easily be gained by the use of common sense
    such as:
    money trumps ethics
    power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely
    anybody selling something shouldn’t ever be trusted completely
    governments always lie
    and holding any belief you haven’t checked and verified for it’s value & “truthfulness”
    indicates you’re a moron

    • SoruhFrake

      Simply put but explained perfectly :)

    • SoruhFrake

      Simply put but explained perfectly :)

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