Tag Archives | Conspiracy Theories

Half Of All Americans Believe In At Least One Medical Conspiracy Theory

OuchFlintGoodrichShot1941If you believe that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with the HIV virus or another medical conspiracy theory, you have plenty of company: about half of all Americans, reports Reuters:

About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results.

Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however.

For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information.

“Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty,” Oliver said.

“To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad,’” he said.

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How Misinformation Spreads on Facebook

RIAN archive 988824 Facebook social network's pageSarah Gray reports for Salon (via AlterNet) on research about how people on Facebook interacted with “trolls” posting false information; she says the results are depressing:

From the steady roll of theories on what happened to Malaysian Arlines Flight 370, to Sarah Palin’s “death panels” panic, to Donald Trump’s birther theories, misinformation spreads like wildfire in the age of Facebook.

In 2013, professor Walter Quattrociocchi of Northeastern University along with his team studied how more than 1 million Facebook users engaged with political information during the Italian election. During that election a post appeared titled: “Italian Senate voted and accepted (257 in favor and 165 abstentions) a law proposed by Senator Cirenga to provide policy makers with €134 billion Euros to find jobs in the event of electoral defeat.”

The post was from an Italian site that parodies the news. According to  MIT Technology Review it was filled with at least four major inaccuracies: “[T]he senator involved is fictitious, the total number of votes is higher than is possible in Italian politics, the amount of money involved is more than 10% of Italian GDP and the law itself is an invention.”

Despite the blatant falsehoods of this  parody news post, the story went viral — shared over 35,000 times in less than a month.

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Malaysia Air Flight 370: Usual Conspiracy Theories Emerge

Boeing 777-200 (9328013793) (2)Is there no tragedy involving loss of human lives that certain conspiracy theorists can resist deeming a false flag attack or other nonsense? Fast Company reports on the usual suspects crawling over the story of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet:

…Naturally, conspiracy theories are already flying left and right on social media. One theory suggests the plane’s sudden disappearance is a “false flag” operation intentionally planted by CNN. Another claims that some relatives of the passengers onboard have even reported hearing their phones ring–but no one is answering.

Other tin foilers have gone so far as to suggest that the plane simply vanished. “If we never find the debris,” writes one theorist, “it means some entirely new, mysterious and powerful force is at work on our planet which can pluck airplanes out of the sky without leaving behind even a shred of evidence.”

Another, just as bizarre conspiracy theory suggests terrorists hijacked the plane, and have parked the plane intact in an abandoned hanger to use as “a weapon of mass destruction” in the future:

[continues at Fast Company]

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Conspiracy Theory Logical Fallacies

Pic: DTKerns (PD)

Pic: DTKerns (PD)

Conspiracies, of course, do occur.  But, of course, not every theory is true.  If yours isn’t built upon the following fallacies, perhaps it’s legit.  Warp writes:

Most conspiracy theories don’t make sense nor withstand any scrutiny. They usually involve operations so immense that it’s basically impossible for them to be kept secret, and all the proof given by conspiracy theorists usually have a very simple explanation (usually much simpler than the explanation given by the theorists).

Yet conspiracy theories are very popular and appealing. Even when they don’t make sense and there’s just no proof, many people still believe them. Why?

One big reason for this is that some conspiracy theorists are clever. They use psychology to make their theories sound more plausible. They appeal to certain psychological phenomena which make people to tend to believe them. However, these psychological tricks are nothing more than logical fallacies. They are simply so well disguised that many people can’t see them for what they are.

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Bad Science Meets Conspiracy Theory in ‘Burning Snow’ Videos

About.com‘s Urban Legends page debunks the burning snow videos that have been making the rounds of the usual sites of late:

Several videos have cropped up on YouTube documenting a “weird phenomenon” variously described as “burning snow,” “fake snow,” “chemical snow,” and “snow that won’t melt.” The videos show people holding cigarette lighters and blowtorches up to a handful of snow and remarking on how the latter seemingly blackens and “burns like plastic” instead of melting, all the while giving off a “chemical odor.”

As is the fashion these days, some folks are resorting to conspiracy theories in lieu of science to explain the phenomenon, the result being one big Internet freak-out over supposed government-backed weather manipulation (“geo-engineering”), chemtrail fallout, nanobot invasions, and HAARP attacks (I even found one article using the term “false flag”).

On the other hand, there’s plain old, ordinary physics.

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Obama’s Legacy: A Government That Makes Paranoid Conspiracy Theories Seem Possibly Sane

192px-President_Barack_ObamaGlenn Harlan Reynolds, Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and owner of the Instapundit blog, writes in USA Today of a “weaponized” IRS and the even more scandal-ridden NSA as sure signs that the Obama administration is the least trustworthy since the Nixon era:

At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”

I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

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Iranian Press Reports Snowden Documents Reveal Extraterrestrials In The U.S. Government

alienobama

And you thought NSA spying was a big deal…but at least their agents are humanoid. Iran’s leading news agency Farsnews reports the true revelation from the Snowden leaks on their English-language site:

Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed documents providing incontrovertible proof that an alien/extraterrestrial intelligence agenda is driving US domestic and international policy, and has been doing so since at least 1945, some media reports said.

Snowden’s documents further confirm, this report says, [aliens'] meetings in 1954 with US President Dwight D. Eisenhower where the “secret regime” currently ruling over America was established.

Most disturbingly, this FSB report warns, is that the [alien] agenda being implemented by the “secret regime” ruling the United States calls for the creation of a global electronic surveillance system meant to hide all true information about their presence here on earth as they enter into what one of Snowden’s documents calls the “final phase” of their end plan for total assimilation and world rule.

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Inside The Right-Wing Love Affair With Conspiracy Theories

2012_Benghazi_attack_photo_montageCJ Werleman says “there’s a reason Benghazi hysteria just won’t go away,” writing for AlterNet via Salon:

The New York Times recently published what is arguably the most comprehensive examination of the events that took place leading up to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. The six-part, multimedia report is not only the most exhaustive account of the tragedy ever published by a major news organization, it is also completely apolitical. In other words, it revealed the truth. Yet right-wing conspiracy theorists refuse to believe it.

While the article hardly paints the administration in a positive light, it makes clear that right-wing, echo chamber-generated conspiracy theories have no basis in reality. Central to the right’s Benghazi narrative was the claim that President Obama, facing a fight for reelection, chose to lie and conceal the truth on Benghazi. In other words, the administration “knew” it was a carefully planned and orchestrated attack carried out by al-Qaeda, but instead chose to spin the story that it was a spontaneous protest carried out by a mob of Islamists, who were reacting to the release of anti-Muslim YouTube documentary.

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