Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How conspiracists think

New research helps explain why some see elaborate government plots behind events like 9/11 or the Boston bombings.

How conspiracists think  

Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line.

Did NASA fake the moon landing? Is the government hiding Martians in Area 51? Is global warming a hoax? And what about the Boston Marathon bombing…an “inside job” perhaps?

In the book “The Empire of Conspiracy,” Timothy Melley explains that conspiracy theories have traditionally been regarded by many social scientists as “the implausible visions of a lunatic fringe,” often inspired by what the late historian Richard Hofstadter described as “the paranoid style of American politics.” Influenced by this view, many scholars have come to think of conspiracy theories as paranoid and delusional, and for a long time psychologists have had little to contribute other than to affirm the psychopathological nature of conspiracy thinking, given that conspiricist delusions are commonly associated with (schizotype) paranoia.

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