Conspiracy theorists are often referred to as crazy "cranks," or "crackpots," and the more outlandish their theories the more rigorously they are derided. The truth can often be stranger than fiction, however, so the pursuit of the truth should be a laudable endeavor and not something to be ridiculed or scoffed at.
Consequently, it comes as no surprise that a recent study has identified conspiracy theorists as being more sane than their conventionalist counterparts.
Those who always accept the official version of events without question are less likely to be of sound judgement, while those labeled as conspiracy theorists appear to possess more clarity and presence of mind.
The study, entitled "What About Building 7?" and conducted by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the U.K., was published last July, and compared the comments of those with pro-conspiracy views against those who subscribed to conventional explanations . A total of 2174 comments were reviewed, with 1459 originating from conspiracy theorists and a mere 715 from those adopting a conformist stance. The comments reviewed were sourced online from news websites, and the ratio between the two factions illustrated that the conspiracists outnumbered the conventionalists by two to one.
The researchers noted that the most hostile comments originated from the conventionalists, who seemed to be far more intolerant of opposing viewpoints. It was hypothesised that those who held conservative beliefs were more defensive as they perceived themselves to be a small minority group. They became almost fanatical about their convictions, whereas the pro-conspiracists were more flexible and open-minded. Their primary objective was not to press their own version of events, but just to undermine the official explanation which they did not feel was a true representation of the facts.
The study concluded that it was the conformists who behaved in a manner more consistent with the perceived stereotype of the "conspiracy theorist," that is, a person who behaves in a fanatical, hostile, defensive manner, who is obsessed with their own opinions and who is unwilling to consider or accept any alternative explanations.
The psychologists discovered that conspiracists do not like to be termed "conspiracy theorists;" certainly such individuals seemed to take a more erudite approach when forming an opinion, being more likely to have considered historical facts and contextual implications than those who accepted official explanations at face value.
Conspiracists are right to resist the label because it was coined as a derogatory term, seeded by the CIA in order to undermine those who dared to challenge the official version of events following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Ridiculing such individuals was actively encouraged by the authorities, and consequently the smear campaign became one of the most successful in recent history. Those who continue to insult and deride conspiracists in this way are themselves perpetuating a valid, well-documented, historically-real and illegal conspiracy created specifically by rogue CIA officers to cover up the JFK assassination.
This piece of defamatory propaganda against those who challenge official explanations has been so effective that it has had an effect on powers of reasoning in certain individuals. This observation was made by psychologist Laurie Manwell of the University of Guelph who, in an article published in American Behavioral Scientist (2010), suggested that cognitive function had been impeded in those who accept the word of the authorities without question, as they have become unable to process information that conflicts with pre-existing beliefs.
Manwell's theory was corroborated in the same journal by Steven Hoffman, a professor at the University of Buffalo, who proposed that anti-conspiracists fall victim to a very strong level of "confirmation bias," only pursuing information that will be likely to substantiate their already established opinions. Such individuals would be pre-disposed to dismiss all conflicting views and data as "conspiracy theories."
A further study, entitled “Dangerous Machinery: ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion,” determined that those who contest conspiracy theories have no sound basis for their actions, other than prejudice and possibly fear of having to confront uncomfortable facts that could undermine their own views.
“If I call you a conspiracy theorist, it matters little whether you have actually claimed that a conspiracy exists or whether you have simply raised an issue that I would rather avoid," the article stated. " By labeling you, I strategically exclude you from the sphere where public speech, debate, and conflict occur.”
So it appears that greater freedom of speech and information may have begun to overturn years of negative propaganda, as dissenting voices are no longer a minority group in the western world. If suspect, the official versions of public events are likely to be loudly and widely disputed by a population for whom the pursuit of the truth has become of paramount importance. It has become more difficult to obfuscate the facts from enquiring minds who, it appears, are far more sane than those who accept authorized explanations without question. The irrational has become rational, and the cranks and crackpots of yesterday may well become respected as today's trailblazers of truth.
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