General Question

Jeruba's avatar

What if we've been so hardened by idiotic conspiracy theories that we can't recognize a real conspiracy when we see one?

Asked by Jeruba (51074points) 1 week ago

What if we’ve been deliberately swamped with nutty theories as cover for a real conspiracy that’s unfolding now in swing states?

I hate that they even made me think this way.

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17 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Well I do think that has been the intentional strategy of several sources of nonsense for some time now: to provide noise to distract and cast doubt on the actual corruption that is going on.

Something like it was even applied to real events: “No one ever imagined that people would hijack planes and fly them into buildings.” – Um, the truth was that the US security organizations certainly did even have plans for such scenarios, the WTC had been bombed before , and there was even a terror attack drill going on at the time.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That’s the whole point. There ARE genuine conspiracies. They’re as real as death. It is the one undeniable fact that enables the multitude of fakes to proliferate like bacteria. No one need create them as a screen. There is already so much smoke out there, that the truth is more than sufficiently obscured by the bullshit for those unwilling (or unable) to seek it out. This is a time for thinking. We’re probably doomed.

JLoon's avatar

Part of this question could be political (which I’ll avoid), and part could relate to group psychology & behavior (that I think I can answer).

And I feel like you’re right.
Researchers looking at conspiracy theories as a social phenomena usually find cognitive defects involved that make individuals and groups more susceptible to misinformation. Over time the effect is to isolate people from diverse group engagement, and undermine individual decision making.

So with all of that in mind, what you’re suggesting is at least possible – If enough people fall into this dead end behavior.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Yes. CNN has cryed “Wolf” too many times (pun intended) . Too many “Breaking News” stories that are not news

Demosthenes's avatar

That’s the beauty of conspiracy theories. They’re often unfalsifiable. No evidence to support the theory? Well, that’s because the elites are hiding the evidence. Evidence that contradicts the conspiracy? Planted by the conspirators. No matter what, the theory is validated. There are real conspiracies, but how do we differentiate the real ones from the fake ones? Unfortunately we tend to choose which ones to believe in and which ones to throw out as “nonsense” based on our personal politics and biases.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think there has been a purposeful plan to flood the US with conspiracy theories so we ignore real problems. However, as most jellies know, I often am saying to people to stop being so afraid and that the media should stop giving many of these news stories a lot of air time. I probably would be more likely than most to dismiss something that really is something to worry about, because I think so much is manufactured, edited, spun, and biased.

Even with my tendency to downplay and want to make nice, when I started hearing about QAnon I took that conspiracy group seriously! I had a lot of friends dismissing them as a small group and not something to pay attention to, but I disagree. I think QAnon and similar groups have tremendous power right now. I am not completely oblivious I guess.

JLoon's avatar

Still avoiding politics here, but it might be useful to consider some statistical analysis.

Since serious research began in about 1995, most studies have found that aprox 27% of the US population have at least one belief based on related conspiracy theory.
Within this percentage about 48% favored contradicting conspiracies that in effect canceled each other out.

So is this group significant statically? Yes. But influential and effective? Given the fragmented and inherently dysfunctional nature of conspiracy theories themselves – Its doubtful. In terms of social dynamics this type of group thinking is unlikely to gain traction within the larger population, but will continue to be active on the fringes.

rockfan's avatar

Kind of reminds me of the conspiracy theorists that believe that all the scientists in the world are spreading the propaganda of climate climate in order to make money. When in fact these people fail to realize the actual conspiracy between corporations to buy off Republican politicians to downplay the threat of climate change.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Let’s face it. The opportunity is now there for ANYONE with a phone to generate their own fake news. Wanna guess just how many delusion prone individuals tweet amongst us? The opportunities are literally limitless, and there really is no defense other than a sound footing in logic and reasonable application of what formerly passed for common sense. It is due to these requirements that a realistic assessment of our future must be rather grim regarding opportunities for those fomenting malevolent intent hidden in the crowd of crazies free to mount their soapboxes.

Jaxk's avatar

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.

stanleybmanly's avatar

All of them?

janbb's avatar

All of us??

ragingloli's avatar

It is actually a well known conspiracy theory, that fake and insane conspiracy theories are intentionally spread by “government disinformation agents”, in order to to diminish by association the credibility of “true” conspiracy theories.
For example, 9/11 truthers believe that conspiracy theories claiming that “there were no planes on 9/11”, are intentional misinformation spread by the government in order to make 9/11 truthers as a whole look insane.

jca2's avatar

I live not far from Sandy Hook CT, where they had the shootings of 26 school children and adults. It was unbelievable to me that people really thought that was all a hoax. I think conspiracy theories go hand in hand with the dividing of the country (and world) due to social media and other fake news outlets. People get the news that they want to get (right wing, left wing, etc.) and so they are down a rabbit hole that they never get out of.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Omg, that still exists. I saw recently someone on TV who doesn’t believe Sandy Hook happened. I also heard a couple of years ago someone say it was planned to try to make gun ownership illegal. They believed it happened, but said the children were collateral damage in the Democrat plan to take your guns, that Democrats will kill children and do anything to take your guns. So disgusting.

Smashley's avatar

We give them too much credit as “theories” Start differentiating between “conspiracy theories” and “conspiracy fantasies” and we can start moving forward.

JkrbyPlylsts's avatar

Research and common sense. Using critical thinking often your answer is quick. Usually common sense assuming one has it (and sadly many do not), you will have your answer. If not, research it.

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