Tag Archives | Conspiracy Theories

Who Falls for Conspiracy Theories?

Tom Jacobs reports that “new research finds those on the political extremes are more susceptible [to conspiracy theories] than moderates,” at Pacific Standard:

As we noted last year, belief in conspiracy theories is surprisingly common. So who is particularly susceptible to falling for these often-outrageous narratives?

New research from the Netherlands suggests the answer is people on the political extremes.


Those on both the far right and far left tend to “adhere to their belief system in a rigid fashion, leading them to perceive their political ideas as the simple and only solution to societal problems,” writes a research team led by psychologist Jan-Willem van Prooijen of VU University Amsterdam.

“Conspiracy beliefs feed into a core feature of political extremism, namely a desire to make sense of societal events through a set of clear-cut assumptions about the world.”

This in turn “induces them to perceive evil conspiracies as causal explanations for various events,” they conclude in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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Charlie Hebdo: The Inevitable Conspiracy Theories

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey. Photo: Randam (CC)

It seems that no mass murder or terrorist event can occur without a variety of “false flag” type conspiracy theories immediately circulating from the usual suspects. The Week summarizes some of the Charlie Hebdo theories:

Islamophobia to blame

Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu was among those marching in Paris on Sunday, but the next day Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a press conference that the wrong people were being blamed, reports the Financial Times. “The duplicity of the West is obvious. As Muslims we have never sided with terror or massacres: racism, hate speech, Islamophobia is behind these massacres,” he told reporters. “The culprits are clear: French citizens undertook this massacre and Muslims were blamed for it.”

Israel behind the massacres

Still in Turkey and Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, had a different theory. He claimed that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, was “definitely behind such incidents” in an effort to “boost enmity towards Islam”.

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Are Conspiracy Theories All Bad?

Averly Tanner's Tin Foil Hat 28 March 2009.jpg

A veritable skeptics’ smorgasbord is offered up in the New York Times “Room for Debate” section devoted to the proposition “Are Conspiracy Theories All Bad?”:

The United States has a long tradition of conspiracy theories – a reflection of a widespread suspicion of powerful groups secretly undermining democratic society.

Though some are fueled by discrepancies in the official accounts of certain events, many conspiracy theories persist despite strong evidence to the contrary. Why is there such a strong predilection toward these narratives? What role does this kind of skepticism play in society?

Here are links to the various opinions:

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Five Most Insidious Conspiracy Theories of 2014

You know it’s close to year-end when wrap up stories like Alternet‘s “5 Most Insidious Conspiracy Theories of 2014″ start appearing. This one’s kind of amusing:

Conspiracy theories are like bellybuttons, everyone has one but some are just out there more than others. This year, the Internet was rife with vile gossip and wild beliefs; I couldn’t even possibly list all the wacky new chemtrail and illuminati theories in just one article. And let’s just quickly drive a stake through the rumors that  Ebola victims are rising from the dead,  reptilians disguised as humans run the U.S. government, and Pharrell,  Keanu Reeves and  Madonna are actually vampires.

I’ve found that the conspiracy theories spread most widely — and the ones that seem plausible to many, unfortunately — are those based on current headlines and often propagated by public figures such as politicians, celebrities and media figures. They travel by word-of-mouth at light speed and become “a known fact.” These theories are often believed by those who assume there must be a coherence behind world events and occurrences don’t just happen randomly.

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Danny Casolaro and ‘The Octopus’ – The Stage Play


Danny Casolaro

Long time disinfonauts will surely remember one of the legends of modern day conspiracy investigations, Danny Casolaro, and his revelations of ‘the Octopus.” Casolaro met an untimely end and his investigation petered out. He’s not forgotten, however, and his life and work are about to be immortalized in a stage play, reports American Theatre:

A journalist is hot on the trail of a con­spiracy whose scope seems ever-expanding. Nicknamed “The Octopus,” the plot connects shadowy private-security contractors with an international criminal bank, government piracy of law-enforcement database software, a corrupt Native American reservation where experimental weapons are developed, and even Reagan’s October Surprise.

The journalist hopes to break the whole story all at once and find fame and fortune. According to his book proposal (quoted in Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen’s The World’s Greatest Conspiracies), he’s after a “web of thugs and thieves who roam the earth with their weapons and their murders, trading dope and dirty money for the secrets of the temple.”

Before he leaves to meet a source in West Virginia, he warns his family that, if anything happens to him, they shouldn’t believe the official story.

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Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?

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Michael Shermer. Photo by David Patton (CC)

Scientific American gives Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society and its magazine Skeptic, a platform to ridicule conspiracy theories and those who believe in them:

President Barack Obama has been a busy man while in office: he concocted a fake birth certificate to hide his true identity as a foreigner, created “death panels” to determine who would live and who would die under his health care plan, conspired to destroy religious liberty by mandating contraceptives for religious institutions, blew up the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig to garner support for his environmental agenda, masterminded Syrian gas attacks as a pretext to war, orchestrated the shooting of a tsa agent to strengthen that agency’s powers, ordered the Sandy Hook school massacre to push through gun-control legislation, and built concentration camps in which to place Americans who resist.

Do people really believe such conspiracy theories?

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Conspiracy Theorists Claim Rosetta Mission Comet is Really an Alien Object

Well that didn’t take long! Just hours after all the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully landed it’s Philae probe on comet 67P, theories are spreading around the internet suggesting that it’s not a comet at all and the ESA and NASA are conspiring to cover up its true alien identity. Via the Guardian:

On Wednesday afternoon, the European Space Agency made galactic history when their Rosetta Mission successful landed its Philae probe on a speeding comet, the first time such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.

As with everything from the moon landing to the death of Elvis, an alternative version of “what really happened” as the Philae probe landed on comet 67P did not take long to emerge.

Comet 67P on 19 September 2014 NavCam mosaic

According to an email published on the website UFOSightingsDaily.com – which does a regular trade in alien sightings – this mission is part of a European Space Agency and Nasa cover-up to disguise the comet’s true alien nature.

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A Conspiracy Theory Top Five

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Lady Gaga, Illuminati puppet, by proacguy1 (CC)

There’s one or two conspiracy connoisseurs in the disinfoverse, so what do y’all think of the Telegraph‘s top five conspiracy theories? Should “the Middle Ages never happened” really be included?

The best conspiracy theories are like enchanting mazes of logic whose thresholds, once crossed, are hard to return from. As ludicrous as they can appear from a distance, the closer you get, the stronger their gravity and the greater the danger of being sucked in. How else to describe the extraordinary rebirth of David Icke? Best known to some as the former BBC sports presenter who appeared on Wogan in a turquoise tracksuit implying he might be the son of God, to the post-Twin Towers generation he’s the visionary master of conspiracy, performing his unscripted 10-hour lecture about the secret forces that rule the world to sell-out crowds at Wembley Arena.

A 2011 BBC poll found that 14 per cent of Britons believed 9/11 was an inside job.

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The Lizard People

ReptilianIt’s reptilian silly time over at Vox, where they’ve just discovered that some people (well, David Icke at least) think we’re ruled by lizard people:

On Tuesday, the political fate of America was once again put to a vote. But for the millions of Americans who believe in lizard people, this vote had bigger implications — like thwarting an ongoing plot of world domination.

The idea of shape-shifting lizards taking human forms in a plot to rule America and the world has become one of the most majestic and marvelous conspiracy theories created by mankind (or lizardkind, if you will). In 2008, “lizard people” found its way onto the Minnesota’s midterm ballot with some controversy.

As pundits extrapolate on what the Republican win in the midterms means for the country, there are people around this country who hope their votes did something crucial — kept the country safe from lizard people for the next few years.

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Election Conspiracy Theories Are An American Staple

Many (if not most) Americans think that illegal or unfair tactics are used to influence political elections. The Los Angeles Times casts these beliefs as conspiracy theories, but does that make them any less true?

During this 2014 midterm election season, mainstream and social media have inundated voters with tales of schemes and skulduggery. Whatever the result of Tuesday’s election, many will believe that the process was rigged, the outcome is fraudulent, and they were cheated. The pattern of conspiracy theories is unfortunate but familiar.

Voting machine lever

How pervasive is the belief that American elections will be swayed by improper means? Very. In 2012 we conducted surveys to gauge what Americans thought about the integrity of the system. Just before the election, we asked a national sample of respondents about the likelihood of voter fraud if their preferred presidential candidate did not win. About 50% said fraud would have been very or somewhat likely.

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