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Memories of the 28th Century

Be Skeptical

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I just read an article about “The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories” (Karen M. Douglas, Robbie M. Sutton, and Aleksandra Cichocka), and I had been thinking about blogging on the philosophy and logic of conspiracy theories. The only place where I agree with this article is on this point” Our analysis suggests that conspiracy theories may satisfy some epistemic motives at the expense of others—for example, by shielding beliefs from uncertainty while being less likely to be accurate. The epistemic drawbacks of conspiracy theories do not seem to be readily apparent to people who lack the ability or motivation to think critically and rationally. Conspiracy belief is correlated with lower levels of analytic thinking (Swami, Voracek, Stieger, Tran, & Furnham, 2014) and lower levels of education (Douglas, Sutton, Callan, Dawtry, & Harvey, 2016).” Some of what are known as conspiracy theories contain additional information about the matter involved. The article mentioned that one third of Americans thinking that climate change was a hoax, but it doesn’t mention the many scientists and other knowledgeable persons who have analyzed the data regarding climate change and see nothing beyond an ordinary variation in climate such as has been going on for millions of years. Many of the same people who started the climate change fervor thirty or forty years ago have switched sides after looking more carefully at the evidence.
Another “conspiracy” mentioned in that article involves the assassination of John Kennedy. This is another situation where the more evidence one considers, the less reasonable the official conclusion appears to be.
Some conspiracy theories are just silly, and I suspect that they were dreamed up as jokes. The Reptilian aliens are in this category, and I recently learned that the resurrection of the Illuminati was done in the 1+60’s as a joke by the Discordians.

This is a list of conspiracy theories from,00.html
The JFK Assassination
9/11 Cover-Up
Area 51 and the Aliens
Paul Is Dead
Secret Societies Control the World
The Moon Landings Were Faked
Jesus and Mary Magdalene
Holocaust Revisionism
The CIA and AIDS
The Reptilian Elite
There are three types of thing here; some of these are matters of people having incomplete data and making something up that fills in the gaps, and others are matters of people having additional data that contradicts the official explanation, and others are jokes. The jokes include: Paul Is Dead, Secret Societies Control the World, The Moon Landings Were Faked, Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and The Reptilian Elite. The origin of the Paul is dead idea is known; a DJ in LA came up with it, and the Reptilian matter is also known, and the originator makes some money from people viewing his videos. The gap filling ideas include the matter about the CIA and AIDS (although that also is a matter of partial data),Area m51, and the Holocaust. Ones where there is information beyond the official explanation include the JFK Assassination, the Moon landings, and the CIA and AIDS.

There is a great deal of similarity between conspiracy theories and marketing lies. Both are based on the concept of the “Big Lie”. If make a lie that is big enough and repeat it often enough, then people will start to believe it. The “Hydration Myth” was created that way, but the details of the creation of the Hydration Myth were noticed as a marketing campaign by Nestle Corporation that was done in the early 1990’s after Nestles bought three bottled water companies in the U.S.A. A few of the other conspiracies were also marketing campaigns, Paul id Dead for one, and the Jesus and Mary Magdalene theory probably. The Reptilians were invented partly for marketing and partly for amusement. Look at the larger list in this article and consider how many might have made money for the creator.

I am suspicious of any idea that is marketed, rather than being presented in the normal way, and the ideas can be anything from a political persuasion to an alleged scientific matter. The ones that claim to be too big to be denied probably aren’t factual at all. Real science develops over time, and it is built piece by piece as more relevant knowledge is gained. Consider Special Relativity; it has been around for more than a century, but there still are implications that are questioned, and the is even more true for General Relativity, for which new implications are being investigated all the time.