Why people believe in conspiracy theories

We can thank the internet for this preponderance of CT in our culture. Yeah, it was there before, but it was relegated mainly to people who read books. A little word of mouth, a little JFK, A little UFO.. Now? Trash culture!! Everything is a conspiracy. Everybody knows the "facts" about everything!
The Internet is clearly a wonderful medium for information and communication, but it is full of nonsense and disinformation too: the problem is identifying the authoritative sources of information among the clamour and noise. In some areas this isn't so hard: I am optimistic that the Internet may help undermine the "conspiracy theories" of religion in the next generation or so, as it exposes humanity to the vast and bizarre range of faiths it has invented for itself to explain what it cannot understand. I think this is why theocratic and authoritarian governments are so threatened by the power of the web. I am also optimistic it will revolutionise education as academic institutions fully embrace its potential. But in other areas identifying the authoritative sources of knowledge on the Internet can be difficult: this is particularly the case when the "authoritative" explanation for something appears inadequate or insufficient, and into this gap all kinds of peculiar speculation flows. I think this is why arguments from authority are so common from those who would defend the official explanation of events like, for example, the collapse of WTC7: experts are continually invoked on the thread devoted to the subject on this forum, but this typically does nothing to address the weaknesses of the argument they are being invoked to support. Indeed, discussing conspiracy theories online is of limited benefit in the search for genuinely authoritative perspectives, which is why the best the "conspiracy theorists" can do in the case of WTC7 is to call for another investigation, a call that is roundly mocked by those who are happy with the official explanation. The adversarial nature of some of these debates can be very disappointing. They are usually just a parade of fallacious arguments, typically ad hominems and straw manning. I particularly despise the argumentum ad metum fallacy, or the argument from fear, which is the official argument for why the WTC7 report must not be independently peer reviewed, and is very well exemplified on the WTC7 thread here.

Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false.
And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season.
Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger “confederation of secret-keepers” than the handful of leaders–LBJ, the CIA and the FBI–who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies–From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore)
http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177

Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK.
But shortly after the completion of the Manhattan Project, it became publicly known to the whole world what its goal was, who led it, who was involved, where it was based, how they went about it, etc. It was a secret, yes, with emphasis on the past tense. It couldn't remain a secret much longer after the mushroom cloud cleared. However, 50 years after Lee Harvey Oswald fired 3 shots and killed President Kennedy (and that's exactly what happened) there is still no decent reliable evidence of a conspiracy. You yourself said if 9 conspiracy theories are false it has no bearing on the tenth. Agreed. But the same goes the other way around. Just because the Manhattan Project was a secret, has no bearing on the Kennedy assassination. Each event must stand or fall on evidence. There is evidence for the Manhattan Project. There is no evidence suggesting a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, while all the evidence points to Oswald as the lone gunman.
Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
The problem with conspiracy theories is that no one ever comes up with any objective evidence for the theories and the people who believe in conspiracies will never admit that no objective evidence has been found. They are like a dog with a bone. They will keep gnawing on it, insisting that they've "got something" and never show anything but their inability to see the fallacies in their arguments. They use circular reasoning, straw man, shift the burden of proof and repeat the same old unsupported theories over and over again claiming to have found something new. Eventually anyone with any sense backs away because it becomes an exercise in futility. But the true believers never give up. It's a lot like religion and likely serves the same purpose.

There is a TON of evidence proving a conspiracy and cover-up in the JFK assassination. Start with the FACT that we have a White House tape where Hoover tells LBJ there was an impostor of Oswald at the Soviet embassy… why would ANYONE bother to impersonate a “lone nut nobody” like Oswald??? UNLESS they were trying to set him up to look like a communist, as they (a few weeks later) framed him for the shooting. There’s that and a hundred other FACTS… so why keep claiming there is no “evidence.”
In addition to the book I referenced (Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies), read:
Vince Palamara: Survivor’s Guilt
Jerome Corsi: Who Really Killed Kennedy?

And someone posted that the Manhattan Project “has no bearing on the Kennedy assassination.” The reason I mentioned it was to disprove the lie that “big secrets can’t be kept.” Yes, the Manhattan Project eventually was revealed (but INTENTIONALLY, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima)… and the JFK plot has been revealed to… but not acknowledge by our government. The facts are well-documented, inarguable and many: our government (LBJ and factions within the CIA, with cover-up help from Hoover’s FBI) killed Kennedy.

Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
The problem with conspiracy theories is that no one ever comes up with any objective evidence for the theories and the people who believe in conspiracies will never admit that no objective evidence has been found. They are like a dog with a bone. They will keep gnawing on it, insisting that they've "got something" and never show anything but their inability to see the fallacies in their arguments. They use circular reasoning, straw man, shift the burden of proof and repeat the same old unsupported theories over and over again claiming to have found something new. Eventually anyone with any sense backs away because it becomes an exercise in futility. But the true believers never give up. It's a lot like religion and likely serves the same purpose.What I don't get is the utter naiveté and un-skeptical nature of those like you who seem to give the government a free pass. The US government (Dem and Repub alike) makes the mob look like an amateurs club and yet folks like you just turn your head and actually treat it like some big dumb harmless animal. You need to take those blinders off and read some US history. I'll bet you think Bush was a good president and Iraq was a "war" to liberate Iraqis.
And someone posted that the Manhattan Project "has no bearing on the Kennedy assassination." The reason I mentioned it was to disprove the lie that "big secrets can't be kept."
One word disproves your point: Rosenbergs.
Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
The problem with conspiracy theories is that no one ever comes up with any objective evidence for the theories and the people who believe in conspiracies will never admit that no objective evidence has been found. They are like a dog with a bone. They will keep gnawing on it, insisting that they've "got something" and never show anything but their inability to see the fallacies in their arguments. They use circular reasoning, straw man, shift the burden of proof and repeat the same old unsupported theories over and over again claiming to have found something new. Eventually anyone with any sense backs away because it becomes an exercise in futility. But the true believers never give up. It's a lot like religion and likely serves the same purpose.What I don't get is the utter naiveté and un-skeptical nature of those like you who seem to give the government a free pass. The US government (Dem and Repub alike) makes the mob look like an amateurs club and yet folks like you just turn your head and actually treat it like some big dumb harmless animal. You need to take those blinders off and read some US history. I'll bet you think Bush was a good president and Iraq was a "war" to liberate Iraqis. I don't give the government a free pass, I just dont make up fairy tales about it or accept other people's fairy tales that don't have one iota of evidence for what they are proposing. There is enough to think about and try to correct in any government without diversionary tactics. Diversionary tactics keep people from focusing on what is really happening. That's as dangerous a thing as I can think of and it's used by fools every day. Lois
Start with the FACT that we have a White House tape where Hoover tells LBJ there was an impostor of Oswald at the Soviet embassy... why would ANYONE bother to impersonate a "lone nut nobody" like Oswald???
For starters it isn't a "White House tape". It is a transcript of a telephone conservation J. Edgar Hoover had with President Lyndon Johnson in Dallas. Anyway, the mere fact that the discussion you mention is about Oswald, only goes to show they were talking about the one man that the evidence was starting to point to as the assassin. Here is what J. Edgar Hoover said: "No, that’s one angle that’s very confusing, for this reason—we have up here the tape and the photograph of the man who was at the Soviet embassy, using Oswald’s name. That picture and the tape do not correspond to this man’s voice, nor to his appearance. In other words, it appears that there is a second person who was at the Soviet embassy down there." A "second person" does not automatically equate to "impostor." There are several possibilities: 1.) It was Oswald, but the 1960s microphone/camera technology couldn't positively identify it as Oswald. Even today, modern state-of-the-art cameras can't always fully capture a person's identity. 2.) It was an FBI agent posing as Oswald in order to try and find out what Oswald had already told the Soviets, since Oswald WAS a communist and on the radar of more than one U.S. spy agency. One area of government espionage does not always fully inform different government agencies tasked with similar goals. 3.) It was, as Hoover said, a second person and a simple miscommunication/misidentification (happens ALL the time) mistakenly labeled it as Oswald. Let's face it, the President had just been shot and people were scrambling to find information in the most confusing hours and days afterward. 4.) It was Oswald but Hoover was simply covering his ass. There could well have been people who may have claimed Hoover should have brought Oswald in prior to Oswald's shooting of the President. Let's face it, this is the same Hoover who, for decades, denied the existence of the mafia because it was easier for him and his G-men to go after other types of criminals. In many cases, Hoover looked out for himself first and his task of crime fighting took a back seat. 5.) It was Oswald wearing a disguise since he probably assumed (due to his past relation with the Soviet Union and his over-the-top pro-communist rants) that he was being watched by law enforcement. Any of these possibilities (or others) are far more likely than a massive, Machiavellian scheme that would collapse under its own weight and would never work with the precision and clock-like certitude to kill a sitting President and remain hidden for a half-century. The simple fact is that some people don't want to face the sad and unfortunate truth that a lone nut job with a $19.95 rifle and a chip on his shoulder could change the course of history. Some people want a person as big as President Kennedy to be brought down with a conspiracy just as big. Perhaps it helps ease the pain and makes the unknowns in our lives a bit more comforting. But the facts and evidence clearly point to Oswald and 3 shots coming from above and behind Kennedy. It sucks, I know. But to quote Carl Sagan, "Better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy."
Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
Please explain what "hyper-rational people" are and how they are a bad thing, exactly. Hyper-IRRATIONAL people, like conspiracy theorists, are something worth considering--or dismissing. Lois
Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
Please explain what "hyper-rational people" are and how they are a bad thing, exactly. Hyper-IRRATIONAL people, like conspiracy theorists, are something worth considering--or dismissing. LoisBut there you go, dismissing anyone who holds a viewpoint different from the official government viewpoint as hyper irrational. A rational approach would be, take CT's one at a time AND given the history of the US government, side with the CT first. To me this is no different from the following: Mr. X has committed theft, murder, illegal espionage, over and over again. Now his neighbor My Y's dog is dead. Mr Y reports the incident to the police, saying, I think Mr X did it, to which the policeman taking the call says right off the bat, Nope, not Mr. X. mr Y I think you're just a conspiracy nut to think that Mr X had anything to do with your dog's death. In this little scenario you're the cop. And that to me is totally naive and irrational. Is Mr X still innocent until proven guilty? Of course, but to dismiss Mr Y out of hand for being some kind of CT nut would itself be extremely irrational and irresponsible.
But there you go, dismissing anyone who holds a viewpoint different from the official government viewpoint as hyper irrational. A rational approach would be, take CT's one at a time AND given the history of the US government, side with the CT first.
I am a libertarian who distrusts the government on many things. Not so much because they may be evil, but because the bureaucracy of large government is inherently ineffective. Thus they would have an incredibly hard time of planning, executing and keeping such things secret for 50 years. Heck, they can't even start and run a website with years of pre-planning! :-) I am also a skeptic. As such, I realize the true rational approach is to start with the null hypothesis and then go where the evidence leads. If it goes against the government, then so be it. But, in the Kennedy case, the evidence points to only 3 shots from above and behind. Using the entrance wounds and working backwards, all 3 leading exactly to the 6th floor of the TSBD, all of which came from the exact same rifle Oswald owned with Oswald being in the building at the time of the shooting. There is no evidence of any government involvement -- foreign or domestic. Granted, the government did get some things wrong in their Warren Commission report, such as the timing of the shots. But not due to any nefarious purposes on their part. They simply worked with the best info they had at the time. More advances in some areas have tweaked certain aspects to help us learn more about what happened that day, but the overall picture still remains the same--Oswald fired 3 shots that day, killing Kennedy and wounding Connaly.

The LAX shooter was a CT Kind of guy.
Nutjobs and guns!
Big Gubment infringing on my mind! :roll:

One of my favorite Onion pieces:

lol Very interesting Onion. Jackie catching her husband’s brains. :lol: Too bad she couldn’t put them back in and save his life. Reminds me of a Bill Cosby act.

Why are hyper-rational people so repulsed by talk of conspiracies? History tells us they exist. Of course there are nuts in this tree (but there are nuts in most). But if nine conspiracy theories are false, that has zero bearing (and statistics confirm this) on whether the tenth conspiracy theory is true or false. And while the bigger the conspiracy usually the harder it is to keep secret, we also know conspiracy theories ARE sometimes kept secret for a season. Take the Kennedy assassination for example: Moore points out (see book below) that the Manhattan Project was a far, far bigger "confederation of secret-keepers" than the handful of leaders--LBJ, the CIA and the FBI--who conspired to kill JFK. (see Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies--From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination, by Dr. Lance Moore) http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177
Please explain what "hyper-rational people" are and how they are a bad thing, exactly. Hyper-IRRATIONAL people, like conspiracy theorists, are something worth considering--or dismissing. LoisBut there you go, dismissing anyone who holds a viewpoint different from the official government viewpoint as hyper irrational. A rational approach would be, take CT's one at a time AND given the history of the US government, side with the CT first. To me this is no different from the following: Mr. X has committed theft, murder, illegal espionage, over and over again. Now his neighbor My Y's dog is dead. Mr Y reports the incident to the police, saying, I think Mr X did it, to which the policeman taking the call says right off the bat, Nope, not Mr. X. mr Y I think you're just a conspiracy nut to think that Mr X had anything to do with your dog's death. In this little scenario you're the cop. And that to me is totally naive and irrational. Is Mr X still innocent until proven guilty? Of course, but to dismiss Mr Y out of hand for being some kind of CT nut would itself be extremely irrational and irresponsible. Are you saying that my question about hyper-rational people is dismissive of other viewpoints? i thought there wouldn't be person on this forum who would defend "hyper irrational" people. I'm flummoxed.
As such, I realize the true rational approach is to start with the null hypothesis and then go where the evidence leads. .
Rocinante hit the nail on the head. A true skeptic always starts with the null hypothesis which is the reason a good skeptic is skeptical of conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists don't like that name. They prefer to promote the idea that they are just presenting an alternate theory but this isn't true. Conspiracy theorists don't start with the null hypothesis. They start with the hypothesis that the prevailing theory is wrong and then set forth to disprove it. Most of their evidence is therefor directed at disproving the standard theory rather than putting supporting their alternate theory. What is even more telling as that they rarely have an alternate theory. Their entire effort is focused on disproving the standard theory.
They start with the hypothesis that the prevailing theory is wrong and then set forth to disprove it.
What exactly is supposed to be wrong with that? A good hypothesis withstands attempts to disprove it. Are not you aware of Popper's falsification principle? Unfalsifiable theories (such as the NIST WTC 7 report for example) are not to be accepted.
In this little scenario you're the cop. And that to me is totally naive and irrational. Is Mr X still innocent until proven guilty? Of course, but to dismiss Mr Y out of hand for being some kind of CT nut would itself be extremely irrational and irresponsible.
You’re generalizing about “The US government". Bureaucracies change leadership, and last I checked, we still elect people. So, you need to discredit that entire system to shore up your theory. Not just claim there is corruption or too much money in politics, but that it is a complete sham and there is an invisible government operating behind it. You need to show how both Carter and Reagan, about as opposite as you can get, consistently upheld these secrets. I don’t accept that, because they kept the Manhattan project secret long enough to drop the bomb before anyone else, they are also suspect of killing Kennedy or whatever else you might suspect the administration to be up to. There’s no question that our military is all over the world killing with less discretion than I’d like, but that doesn’t make the case for anything considered a CT.