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  • Roswell... Bigfoot...

  • Oh, that kind of thing.

  • OK... Shape-shifting lizards. Interesting.

  • Conspiracy theories do require a wild imaginative leap.

  • I think we can explain it in scientific ways.

  • So why do we believe some more ridiculous way.

  • Yes and of course they spread much more readily now

  • with the advent of social media.

  • Who can you trust?

  • The term conspiracy theory refers to explanations according to which

  • events in the world are caused by an evil plan

  • plotted in secret by a small group of powerful individuals.

  • Some decades ago there was this tendency

  • to conceive conspiracy beliefs as pathological,

  • but psychologists have shifted this.

  • They nowadays believe normal functions of our mind

  • explain why people believe in conspiracy theories.

  • The defining features of the conspiracy theory are:

  • the conspirator, the conspiratorial plan -

  • the sinister plan that they're trying to bring about -

  • and the means of mass manipulation

  • by which the conspirator is keeping the plan secret.

  • Sometimes the conspirator will be defined in terms of a concrete body

  • with an identifiable membership.

  • The Illuminati, or the Freemasons,

  • Jews, more recently things like the Bilderberg Group,

  • the Skull and Bones Society, and various other secret societies.

  • However very often, the conspirator will be defined

  • in much vaguer terms -

  • the Big Pharma, the military-industrial complex,

  • global elites and so on.

  • So they're always balancing between the need to define the enemy

  • and the need to accept that the enemy is always going to be shady,

  • secret and so on.

  • Conspiracy theorists will often argue

  • that if you destroy a group of powerful people in the world

  • you will not destroy the conspiracy

  • because the plan is the key thing.

  • Very often, that plan is going to involve world domination,

  • but if one looks at the level of cover up that would be required

  • in order to keep all these things secret

  • it necessitates having somebody who is actually in control of everything.

  • Much of the conspiracist's writing will involve trying to analyse

  • what strategies and what power the conspirators have

  • to keep their sinister plan or their identity hidden.

  • Very often the manipulation comes from the plausible -

  • things like science, government, media ownership -

  • to the ludicrous -

  • paranormal manipulation, use of occult powers,

  • manipulation of brainwaves.

  • Conspiracy believers, I think they genuinely believe in the theories

  • and they really strive for the truth.

  • It may seem naive, but there is this human tendency

  • to underestimate the role that chance alone can play in events that occur.

  • This belief that the world is ultimately controllable

  • and that is a very powerful driver

  • of conspiracy beliefs in moments of crisis

  • where there is almost like a vacuum in explanation.

  • We see this more social function of conspiracy beliefs

  • in the fact that people believe in them or not

  • as being part of their social identity.

  • The stereotype is that they're in their cellar

  • on the internet, looking for the most recent conspiracy theory.

  • But most people are neither believers nor sceptics

  • but fall somewhere in the middle?

  • And for me the key question is not

  • what differentiates the hard believers from the hard sceptics,

  • but how do we interpret that section of the population in the middle.

  • Conspiracy theories can be dangerous for society -

  • people who believe that vaccines cause autism

  • and avoid vaccinating their children, put them in danger.

  • A thorough thinking person could debunk one argument at a time

  • but could not debunk all their arguments.

  • The most sinister conspiracy theories,

  • like the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the early 20th Century,

  • or if you talk outlandish in terms of David Icke's alien lizards,

  • the fundamental error is always the same,

  • they're all based on the fundamentally flawed assumption about how the world works.

  • And I think that if one makes people more aware of what conspiracy theories are

  • it enables them, when they see a conspiracy theory,

  • to see it for what it is.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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Roswell... Bigfoot...

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B2 conspiracy conspiracy theory manipulation plan theory sinister

Three ways to spot a conspiracy theory | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/12
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