Conspiracy Theories And The Political Arena
Funny thing this, eh? :D
Conspiracy theories blossom in tumultuous times, researchers find
Tom Spears, Canwest News Service Published: Friday, October 03, 2008
OTTAWA - When German bombs flattened some London neighbourhoods during the Blitz but didn't touch others, the rumour mill spread theories of Nazi sympathizers in areas that escaped bombing.
Last week's collapse of Washington Mutual spread its own conspiracy theory: That the U.S. government made the huge bank go bust in order to persuade people a massive financial bailout is needed.
Two chaotic times both with conspiracy theories.
Friday in the research journal Science, scientists report they have traced where conspiracy theories and superstitions begin in our need to impose order on chaos when we fear life is spinning out of control.
People who feel out of control are the most likely to "see" patterns where there are none. They blame government plots, or trust that a lucky pair of socks will help them win the lottery. And in psychology tests, they literally see patterns on a page of random, grainy dots.
That's where psychologist Adam Galinsky comes in. He gathered 100 volunteers, shook up the confidence of some, calmed the rest down and watched as the group that felt upset started reporting patterns and events that didn't exist.
People whose confidence was shaken were likely to see non-existence patterns on paper. They also started to see odd cause-and-effect relationships, such as believing that someone did well in a business meeting because he superstitiously tapped his foot three times before the meeting.
Galinsky teaches business at Northwestern University in Illinois. He and colleague Jennifer Whitson of the University of Texas wrote the article.
"A quest for structure or understanding leads people to trick themselves into seeing and believing connections that simply don't exist," the researchers conclude.
That, the professor says, is because we have a desperate need to feel in control.
"When people think they have control over a medical procedure, they recover more quickly. When people think they can control the outcome, they can endure more pain . . . When people think they have control over a task, they make fewer errors in that task.
"The less control people have over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics," Galinsky said.
"Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astray, they're extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need."
And those lucky socks, or little rituals we do to bring good luck?
"Quirky and usually harmless," the scientists decided but with a catch. People who believe in little superstitions like these are also more likely to believe in sinister conspiracies on a large scale.
"In all these situations, people are finding a meaningful relationship among a random set of unconnected stimuli," the researcher said.
Originally Posted by MarcusKspn
Marc, I think you're on to something big, I'm calling my Patent Attorney right now.....:eek: :D
Rick - Another of your threads has gone straight to the Crapper......:eek: :D