Sunday, August 2, 2015

#PSEUDOSCIENCE - Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?!

[via - google image search]

Conspiracy theories in Bigfootery, abound!

*Video optional and should be enjoyed  after reading this article and the source article!*

Wether it's government coverups or interpersonal conspiring, there is definitely a propensity toward this line of thinking in the field of the 'unknown'. I wouldn't want to limit this to the realm of Bigfootery, because that would be a lie. 
When dealing with large groups and decidedly sparse data, this behavior should be expected, as the psychology behind this phenomenon shows us that it is extremely common.
Special interest groups on social media are extremely aware of the components that lead to our belief in these types of situations and use them to their advantage, almost exclusively... as do some in the Bigfoot field.
The best way to combat the onslaught of misinformation and be sure we don't take down gulps of the next group's Kool-Aid is to understand the attractive components of conspiracy theories [true, fictional, political, fabricated or otherwise, completely bullshit].

I recently read a great article on, where Christopher French, a professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, leads us through the components that allure us to believe in conspiracy theories.
He begins with confirmation bias - something that folks in the cryptozoological field know all too well. From strange sounds in the night with no visible source to visible blobsquatches that cannot be rationally discerned, we thrive on this type of self-gratifying 'brain candy'. It allows us to bolster our preconceived notions, without necessarily meeting a reasonable burden of proof. Basically, the notion that "Bigfoot has to exist, if everything is Bigfoot!"
 “Confirmation bias” is the most pervasive cognitive bias and a powerful driver of belief in conspiracies. We all have a natural inclination to give more weight to evidence that supports what we already believe and ignore evidence that contradicts our beliefs.
The next component goes to the larger scale questions like, "What happened to all the people who have gone missing in the National Forests?" or statements like, "If there is all this proof that Bigfoot [or Aliens] exists, the government must know more than they are telling us!"
From 'Missing 411' to 'The JFK Assassination', the ludicrous seems to be more plausible, in the face of immense proportions.

“Proportionality bias,” our innate tendency to assume that big events have big causes, may also explain our tendency to accept conspiracies. This is one reason many people were uncomfortable with the idea that President John F. Kennedy was the victim of a deranged lone gunman and found it easier to accept the theory that he was the victim of a large-scale conspiracy.
This next alluring aspect is one bourn of ourselves. It would seem likely that people whom conspire, themselves, would not only be more likely to believe that a conspiracy was taking place, but also be able to use these components of interest against the unwitting.
Wether malicious, enterprising or justified paranoia [because, you'd do it to the next guy], this is the aspect is less about the 'belief' of a conspiracy or falsehood and more about the person who believes it, or the person who intentionally proliferates that belief.
Another relevant cognitive bias is “projection.” People who endorse conspiracy theories may be more likely to engage in conspiratorial behaviors themselves, such as spreading rumors or tending to be suspicious of others' motives.
Don't get me wrong, I'm skeptically suspicious of many things I see online... The difference between a 'conspiracy theorist' and a 'skeptic' is - a skeptical approach would be to reserve your opinion of a situation until you looked at the matter in a pragmatic way, got all of the useable information together and then formed your own opinion of a matter. 
That means you must first wade through and weed-out public opinion, pseudoscience and half-truths, understand that not everything that is presented will be true and then go forth with the simplest, educated opinion.
There are always going to be, at least, two divisive sides to matters of public opinion. 
People who bend the truth or misconstrue information to their own means are the true conspirators. They work their respective side of the coin of public opinion to alter the truth or heart of a given matter. 
In a world of fabricated world of 'Facebook alter egos' and 'bandwagon mentality', isn't it time to begin to engage the bombardment of photos, memes and 18 second videos, for ourselves?
I will leave you with this last quote from Christopher French...
The crux of the matter is that conspiracists are not really sure what the true explanation of an event is—they are simply certain that the “official story” is a cover-up.

Read the full article [HERE]

No comments:

Post a Comment