False Idols category archive
Nika Kabiri explores what persons fall for and hold on to conspiracy theories. She identifies three factors:
- First, conspiratorial thinking may have psychological roots that need to be addressed first. Recent research from Emory University suggests people prone to conspiratorial ideation have low social self-esteem and exhibit signs of narcissism, among other traits. . . .
- Second, underneath all conspiracy theories are coherent ideologies, a master world-view in which conspiracies are normative (rather than unusual). This worldview is so compelling that a believer can espouse two inconsistent conspiracy theories at the same time, as long as each aligns with this underlying ideology. . . .
- Third, all people resist new evidence that challenges their beliefs to varying degrees. Confirmation bias leads all of us to do online research using keyword searches that are bound to serve up what we want to see. . .
Follow the link for a more detailed discussion of each, as well as her thoughts on how to combat conspiratorial thinking.
In a fascinating post at Psychology Today Blogs, Ewan Morrison explores the attractiveness and possible psychological benefits of conspiracy theories to those who hold them by looking at his own father’s experience. (Note that the particular conspiracy theory that Morrison uses as a springboard for his article predates “social” media and has nothing to do with QAnon.)
Looking at my father, I can see that he had replaced his devoutly Christian mother’s explanation of the universe with his own surrogate conspiracy theory. He’d experienced a breakdown after losing his Christian faith and his new belief allowed him to set life goals accordingly.
I commend the entire piece to your attention.
At Psychology Today Blogs, William A. Haseltine muses about whether there is value in publicly debating something that is clearly false. He starts by discussing why he turned down the opportunity to debate a scientist affiliated with the Trump administration about “herd immunity” and COVID-19. Here’s a bit from the opening of his article:
While some may have jumped at the opportunity to publicly debate the merits of the approach, I declined the invitation—I do not believe in giving credence to false ideas.
He goes on to question whether holding a civil debate about something known to be false may serve perversely to dignify and perpetuate the falsehood. As we are inundated with batches of botnets, troops of trolls, and a proliferation of professional propagandists emitting endless streams of excrement into the disinformation superhighway, methinks his article is worth a read.
In related news, psychologist David Ley is an optimist. Here’s a bit of his article:
Out of this scandal, perhaps a kinder, more compassionate and less hypocritical view of human sexuality can be fostered in the halls of America’s evangelical communities, one that does not seek to suppress or demonize sexual desires, nor holds women responsible for their husband’s sexual decisions.
Perhaps. Maybe. Not likely.
Hypocrisy is the stock in trade of publicly pious poseurs.
Dr. Alison Eschalante discusses a study that proves that it is indeed important to consider the source. Here’s a snippet (emphasis added):
Fake news has repeatedly undermined efforts to protect Americans from the coronavirus pandemic. Now a new study finds that where people get their news determines whether they believe misinformation. Those who get their news from social media are more likely to believe falsehoods about Covid-19.
And, methinks, not just about COVID-19 . . . .
Follow the link for some examples from our society of stupid.
Sara Gorman and Jack Gorman explore why misinformation and outright falsehoods spread so widely and rapidly. After naming several common factors, they go on to suggests that some persons are willfully gullible:
But this can’t be the whole story, especially with claims that are especially unbelievable, like the idea that saltwater cures coronavirus. This is where we need to understand that people are not only having increased difficulty processing information but they also have a desire to believe something, anything. In order for misinformation to truly work its magic, there has to be a willingness on the part of the recipient (or victim) of misinformation to believe it.
The entire piece is worth the five minutes it will take for you to read it.
At Psychology Today Blogs, David Ludden explores recent research as to the varied reasons why some persons adhere to conspiracy theories that are plainly absurd in the light of pesky things like “facts,” “knowledge,” and “logic.” Here’s one element he cites; follow the link for the full discussion.
For instance, people who believe the Earth is flat or that the government is controlled by lizard people from outer space don’t derive any sort of social identity from their beliefs. Rather, they see themselves as special because they’re privy to knowledge that non-believers don’t have or are unwilling to accept.
At Psychology Today Blogs, David Kyle Johnson explores “the Galileo gambit,” which enables charlatans to con themselves and others into thinking they are onto something. A snippet:
When pseudo-scientists have been bested by the solid evidence and careful research of actual accredited experts (aka authorities on a subject), they will almost inevitably pull out this quote from Galileo:
“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
The Galileo Gambit engages in many mistakes, but the main one is this: it’s a faulty analogy. The fact that two persons have one thing in common does not mean that they have everything in common—or even, another thing in common. Yes, the authorities thought Galileo was wrong, and they also think that you are wrong—but the fact that he turned out to be right doesn’t mean that you are.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Don A. Moore makes a strong case that common sense isn’t.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers explore the theory then white men are afraid that they are losing out. A snippet:
At that time (the 1890s–ed.), historian Frederick Turner reacted with alarm, because he believed that the open, seemingly limitless frontier with all its freedoms formed the rugged American character. He worried that American dynamism and energetic masculinity would vanish along with the frontier.
Henry James echoed this sentiment in his novel of the same era, The Bostonians: “The whole generation is womanized; the masculine tone is passing out of the world; it’s a feminine, a nervous, hysterical, chattering, canting age, an age of hollow phrases and false delicacy and exaggerated solicitudes and coddled sensibilities.”
Today’s closing frontier is not a geographical space but a psychological one. Ever since the founding of the nation, white men–especially straight white Christian men–have been in charge. They have been our presidents, our captains of industry, our generals, our Wall Street titans, and they held all the power. They were the ones in “The room where it happens,” as the Hamilton lyric observes.
Even men who had no wealth or celebrity or grand accomplishments could bask in the glow of white male hegemony. They could at least imagine themselves in those “happening” rooms because all the people there looked like them.
I commend the article to your attention. It raises points worthy of consideration.