Adventist Online

Conspiracy Theories are rampant on Adventist Online.  This is a good article explaining why so many people believe in them.  I want to remind Adventists that we have the Bible and that is more than sufficient.  We should not be dabbling is silly superstitions.

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WEDNESDAY, APR 24, 2013 02:10 PM -0700

Why people believe in conspiracy theories

Why people believe in conspiracy theories

We’ve written before about the historical and social aspects of conspiracy theories, but wanted to learn more about the psychology of people who believe, for instance, that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government "false flag" operation. Psychological forces like motivated reasoning have long been associated with conspiracy thinking, but scientists are learning more every year. For instance, a British study published last year found that people who believe one conspiracy theory are prone to believe many, even ones that are completely contradictory.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, published a paper late last month in the journal Psychological Science that has received widespread praise for looking at the thinking behind conspiracy theories about science and climate change. We asked him to explain the psychology of conspiracy theories. This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

First of all, why do people believe conspiracy theories?

There are number of factors, but probably one of the most important ones in this instance is that, paradoxically, it gives people a sense of control. People hate randomness, they dread the sort of random occurrences that can destroy their lives, so as a mechanism against that dread, it turns out that it’s much easier to believe in a conspiracy. Then you have someone to blame, it’s not just randomness.

What are the psychological forces at play in conspiracy thinking?

Basically what’s happening in any conspiracy theory is that people have a need or a motivation to believe in this theory, and it’s psychologically different from evidence-based thinking. A conspiracy theory is immune to evidence, and that can pretty well serve as the definition of one. If you reject evidence, or reinterpret the evidence to be confirmation of your theory, or you ignore mountains of evidence to focus on just one thing, you’re probably a conspiracy theorist. We call that a self-sealing nature of reasoning.

 

Another common trait is the need to constantly expand the conspiracy as new evidence comes to light. For instance, with the so-called Climategate scandal, there were something like nine different investigations, all of which have exonerated the scientists involved. But the response from the people who held this notion was to say that all of those investigations were a whitewash. So it started with the scientists being corrupt and now not only is it them, but it’s also all the major scientific organizations of the world that investigated them and the governments of the U.S. and the U.K., etc., etc. And that’s typical — instead of accepting the evidence, you actually turn it around and say that it’s actually evidence to support the conspiracy because it just means it’s even broader than it was originally thought to be.

Are there certain types of people who are more prone to believing in conspiracy theories than others? Does it match any kind of political lines?

I don’t think there is a systematic association between political views and the propensity to believe in conspiracy theories. There are some studies that suggest people on the political left are inclined to it, and there are some that suggest people on the right are. But it’s always a weak association. There are some theories that appeal to only one side, however. For example, the idea that 9/11 was an inside job was fairly common among Democrats in the early part of the 2000s, and very few Republicans believed it at the time. But conversely, the idea that the U.N. is trying to create a world government is predominantly held by people on the right, but not at all by people on the political left. So it really doesn’t depend on politics.

Everyone is prone to some degree of bias and motivated reasoning — where do you draw the line, if there is one?

The crucial difference between having a preconceived notion — we all do that, of course — and conspiratorial thinking is when you get into that self-sealing reasoning and ignore every piece of evidence that is pointing the other way, when you’re starting to broaden the circle of conspirators, and when your skepticism gets to be nihilistic — when you believe absolutely nothing that the government or the media is saying — that’s when you’ve crossed the line.

I hear a lot of stories from people who email or from friends who have a brother, or cousin, or friend who they say is normal and smart, but then they’re horrified to find conspiratorial stuff on their Facebook page or whatnot. One was even a medical student at a very prestigious school. How do otherwise smart and reasonable people end up believing this stuff?

Well, there is no relationship to intelligence, in my experience. Many of these people are actually quite smart, though not all, so it’s not that. It’s the need to explain and control, as I said, but it can be other things also: A general sense of disgruntlement, feeling excluded from society. Feeling discriminated against. Even insecurity in one’s job.

And it’s often with good reason. For instance, the conspiracy theory that AIDS was created by the U.S. government is held disproportionately by African-Americans. In a sense, there is good reason to have that suspicion, since it wasn’t that long ago that, in the 1950s or even later, that the U.S. government was sterilizing African-Americans and doing all sorts of horrible things to them without their consent. So some conspiracy theories have a grain of historical truth in them — that’s not to say the theories are true, but the conditions that give rise to them are.

How should we think of conspiracy theorists? They’re often dismissed as fringey nuts, but an awful lot of Americans believe in one conspiracy or another.

First of all, any extraordinary event will be followed by conspiracy theorizing. I can tell you that right now. Whatever happens tomorrow, there will be a conspiracy theory about it. Number two, I think it’s important that we understand that it satisfies a need. It isn’t that these people are necessarily disordered or marginal members of society. After all, not that long ago, half of Republican primary voters thought President Obama was born outside the U.S. So, if half of one segment of a population believes in a conspiracy theory then you can’t talk about marginal elements and you have to accept that it’s a real part of society and serves a need. And I think we have to understand that need and find ways for society to find other ways in which that need can be satisfied.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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Jill , I believe in conspiracy theories because its found on numerous occasions in Scripture....the concept is  in broad principles always been a system against GOD....we just have invented new labels over the years...

 

2Ki 12:20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.

In this context a group of people rising up against a king is a conspiracy....

 

Isa 8:12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

 

Now here is the same Hebrew word in a completely different context....its a conspiracy against God's word and His system of salvation

 

Isa 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

 

Sure there are secret organizations against GOd's people, but we are not to fear them, but FEAR GOD...

 

Isa 8:15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

 

Notice many people are snared and broken by these people

 

Isa 8:16 ¶ Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples

 

Notice this conspiracy attacks God's people who hold unto the true testimony of Jesus

 

Isa 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

 

If you want to seek what these conspiracy people are, they consult spirit mediums and wizards of Satanic agencies

 

Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

 

They speak lies, it seems truth, but it deceives the very elect.....

 

It would be very foolish to deny secret organisations do not exist, and that there are no secret agendas around....the BIble speaks of them over and over, but what is more foolish is that we fear them...we are to fear  God, and seek His power..

 

Shalom

 

 

Of course if its in the Bible its not a conspiracy theory, its a fact.  What conspiracy theories do we believe in, there is so much on these boards - Jesuit infiltration, lunar Sabbaths, government is behind school shootings, Obama not a citizen, Obama a Muslim.  People just make up stuff and it catches on a sticks.   We have the Bible, we don't need people making up stuff.

I didn't know Jill there was so much of this stuff on AO....I don't read posts and threads unless they are helping people get to know Jesus more in relationship....so  most posts I do not go near....

 

2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

 

Some like to get into social stuff and political stuff too much...

It is better to spend your energy getting into Jesus hand in hand

 

SHalom

Like the one that chem trails make you sick.  They don't.  Or that vaccinations are worse than the disease.  Now, there is a major outbreak in California (imagine that) of people and children contracting measles due to a lack of vaccination. 

1 Thess 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." If there is no concrete evidence then we are not required to believe it. In the medical field there has been great developments but it is documented in the courts that in some areas where people have used God's natural remedies with success were taken to court and shut down. We have to be always on our P's and Q's and don't accept anything simply because the majority of people are for it or certain "respected" citizens are against "it". We have to be investigative Christians, by so doing we are obeying the commandments. 

Jill, you can honestly admit Barack Hussein Obama was raised Muslim, yes or no?

If you are unaware of this, his father and step father both were Muslims, and while attending a Catholic school in Indonesia Barack was registered as a Muslim.

Whether he is a professed Muslim today or not he is still very friendly to Islam. Allowing the Muslim refugees into the USA directly led to the deaths in Boston (no theory) and earlier triple murder by these same men. These are Obama's sons (as he liked to say about Trayvon).

Barack has thus far failed to prove he is a US citizen. It is not up to Conspiracy Theorists to prove he is not a citizen, he will need to prove he is a citizen, born in Hawaii or wherever.

Lunar Sabbaths is not CT as far as I can tell.

The Jesuits have a large institution in Washington DC, which was all located in MaryLand, previously the only only Catholic Colony. Id say the infiltration is complete.

Gun control is on political agenda all the time. In other countries gun control took place after a shooting massacre, so any firearm massacre will generate increased scrutiny, rightfully so.

Our Bible tells us Satan goes forth seeking whom he may devour. Christians should be aware of this and warn others of any dangers along the path. SDA does this very thing with their dietary health message, where allopathic medicine uses primarily pharx meds.

Barack has thus far failed to prove he is a US citizen. It is not up to Conspiracy Theorists to prove he is not a citizen, he will need to prove he is a citizen, born in Hawaii or wherever.

To make matters worse, he is our President. Big Mistake! Don't know why people are not smart enough to vote for him and look we have to go through because of this loser. 

BTW....Today is the deadline of the ACA, I did not signed up. 

Voting and loving democrat is as dumb as voting republican.  Follow Jesus not political leaders. 

BTW Theodore Roosevelt's father was very wealthy, but because he was a devout Christian he made Theodore and his brothers work with the poor.  Obama is a small man and could never fill Roosevelts shoes. 

Thank you Kat,

Obama has released his long form and short form birth certificates and there is a birth announcement for him in the Honolulu newspaper.  There is no record of him being born in Kenya.  The birther theory is a theory by kooks for kooks.

 

The BC released by Obama have been looked into and they are not authentic documents. The long form one in  particular was a layered photoshop generated fraud. (see YT videos dissecting the document) The "kook" is the one with no evidence. On at least one college document Barack even admitted to his "Kenyan" birth.

When a child is registered at a hospital this generates an announcement in the newspaper. F.ex a mother who gave birth at home or on the way to the hospital - not in the hospital - received a Certificate of Live Birth, not a Birth Certificate with the delivery doctor's name and signature.

Thus it appears Obama's alleged mother flew into Hawaii with the child and simply walked into the hospital and registered his birth. She at the time worked for Tim Geithner's dad and Rockefeller partner, Peter Geithner.

As for picking on this one president; Im unaware of any other president during my lifetime not born in the USA or it would as well be brought up, although other issues were brought up with the Bush-Kerry election.

If he is also a Muslim and did not tell the truth about this during the election it is relevant. Allowing Islam into the USA or any western country is suicidal. Nobody voted to allow it. If you are not aware of Islam's Sharia views of women's rights then maybe you need to look into that also, too. There was no Muslim presence in the US before the 1965 Immigration Act changed the policy on demographics quotas. The Catholic who did this was a Knight of Columbus and hated Protestants: Ted & JFK.

Barack being friends with and lending financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood here at home and abroad thru the Barack H. Obama Foundation (ran by his brother Malik Obama) has directly caused the revolutions & civil wars in Egypt, Libya, Syria and a few others. Al Qaeda is a wing of MB.

You are being funny. There is evil in high places and not much can be done about it. Just be thankful for what we have.

.........Sabbath Blessings.

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