A case study examining online commenting trends was performed by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent that revealed so called “conspiracy theorists” are actually more reasonable & sensible than those who are considered conventionalists.
Not that long ago, practically anyone who thought outside of the box, questioned the official stories, or did any type of investigation into certain subjects was labeled a “conspiracy theorist.” In fact, many of these people, including the majority of the writers here at Collective Evolution, are still considered conspiracy theorists by many even though the goal is simply to examine or verify the truth of something.
It is interesting how many of the people who are labeled as conspiracy theorists spend a lot of time with research and critical thinking. Sure there are always going to be more extreme people who lend a “bad name” to those who are legitimately assessing evidence, but it doesn’t mean the entire idea of conspiracy is invalid.
Many will check the facts, and look into the evidence on both sides of the coin. Generally the people who believe the mainstream idea of what is true, or is accepted as truth do not bother to look at the other side of the coin. They believe what they are told without question, and anyone who disagrees is, well, crazy, or a conspiracy theorist. Or in other words, paranoid.
The fascinating part is, it’s become some common place amongst society for people to not want to be labeled as a conspiracy theorist that anytime political leaders or the media wish to make something unquestionable, they will literally use the words “conspiracy theorists” in their speeches or reports when referring to anyone who wishes to question the story.
A study was published in July of 2013 by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, it was entitled “’What About Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study Of Online Discussion Of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.” The study compared “conspiracist,” (pro-conspiracy theory) and “conventionalist,” (anti-conspiracy theory) comments on various news websites.
The researchers were surprised that they found more “conspiracist” type comments than conventional ones. According to the researchers, “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.”
Among those who take the time to comment on news articles, those who discount official government accounts (the event’s on 9/11, or the assassination John F. Kennedy for example) aka “Conspiracy Theories,” outnumber those who believe in the official reports, two-to-one. Therefore, this means that the “pro-conspiracy” commenters are those who are now expressing what would now be considered conventional wisdom, while the “anti-conspiracy” commenters actually represent a small minority that is often shunned and discredited.
How The Times Have Changed
‘The research showed that people who favored the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals,” said the study.
It seems as though what were once considered mainstream viewpoints are no longer considered as such by the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often showed anger and disgust in their posts. Perhaps they are becoming frustrated that their ideals are no longer accepted as truth. Perhaps, underneath the angry façade, this scares them.
Limitations of The Study
To be balanced it’s important to recognize the limitations of this study. It’s a sample obtained from one website and although it shows a trend there is definitely more to the story. Regardless it is an interesting observation and one that likely carries truth. It certainly suggests that we should be more understanding of each others points of view and talk about things in a civilized manner.
“As someone who has been around “conspiracy culture” for over 6 years now and running a website (Collective Evolution), it becomes increasingly clear as time passes that there are multiple groups that exist within conventional thinkers and more open-minded thinkers. Conspiracy theorists has become more of a derogatory term used these days to pretty much suggest that someone is unintelligent or unstable in thought. There are extremists on all sides. Those who are intense and angry and those who are more calm and collected. But from an anecdotal perspective, I would definitely say those who fear thinking outside the mainstream are a lot angrier and aggressive in their approach. We get to see it everyday here. For them, it’s not even about evidence it’s simply the idea that what they believe can be wrong. It seems a common denominator is a general lack of wanting to believe their authoritative figures might be lying to them or not having their best interest at heart. All in all, truth is becoming more prominent today and by default “conspiracy theorists” will naturally become the majority as they simply are open to and see the truth. This doesn’t mean all claims they make are correct, many are far-reaching, but many are bang on the mark.” Joe Martino – Co-Founder of Collective Evolution