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Author Topic: Does anyone study conspiracy theories?  (Read 6804 times)

Offline Geezer

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Does anyone study conspiracy theories?
« on: 10/09/2011 07:33:34 »
I was wondering if the study of conspiracy theories is considered a legitimate scientific endeavour (btw, I have a few of my own that I think are worthy of consideration.)


 

Offline damocles

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« Reply #1 on: 10/09/2011 08:06:25 »
It is certainly considered a legitimate sociological endeavour. The real question is whether the (quite respectable) discipline of sociology should be regarded as a science or accepted as a field of academic enquiry outside the sciences (like economics, history, etc.)
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #2 on: 10/09/2011 12:37:50 »
It is certainly interesting from a Socialogical and Psychological point of view why large numbers of people prefer to believe in the craziest explanations of events rather than the more mundane truth. An example maybe the idea that man never set foot on the moon, which has been mentioned on this site a few times. Or maybe the idea that the CIA was responsible for the 9/11 attacks (to be topical). I hope this doesn't trigger yet another debate! On the other hand it would be bad if we all accepted, without question, what we are told by the media or our politicians. There have been plenty of cover-ups in past times and as, perhaps, Wikileaks reminds us, some are still continuing. Certainly there is secrecy; some is probably righteous and some is not, but not everyone tells the truth.

In some ways these more lunatic views are damaging to those who ask legitimate questions. You see, I could start another conspiracy theory now by suggesting that outragious conspiracy theories are started by governments (or an even smaller cabal) to discredit those questioning real conspiracies :-)
 

Offline Dimz

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Does anyone study conspiracy theories?
« Reply #3 on: 10/09/2011 13:47:38 »
I could start another conspiracy theory now by suggesting that outragious conspiracy theories are started by governments (or an even smaller cabal) to discredit those questioning real conspiracies :-)
Or perhaps, ^^^ this is a conspiracy in itself.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #4 on: 10/09/2011 19:40:58 »
I believe mass hysteria is a recognized condition. Are conspiracy theories a possible indication of "mass paranoia"?

(btw, I'm not paranoid. I know this because they really are out to get me.) 
 

Offline cheryl j

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« Reply #5 on: 22/11/2011 20:23:13 »
Conspiracy theories are interesting for other reasons than psychological motivations like paranoia. It is kind of fun to pick a random group of objects or people or events and then look for connections or coincidences related to them. The Science show Radiolab did a story on Coincidence. In it they told about a tagged ballon let go by a little girl named Laura Buxton landed far away in the back yard of another girl named Laura Buxton, same age, same pet and many other uncanny similarities. Conspiracy theories exist not just because some people are suspicious or cynical, but because our brains seem to have difficulty accepting or disregarding coincidences. We are wired to look for meaning behind patterns. 
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #6 on: 22/11/2011 20:39:37 »
We are wired to look for meaning behind patterns. 

I knew it! They've been messing around with my brain wiring again.
 

Offline Joe L. Ogan

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« Reply #7 on: 22/11/2011 20:43:31 »
Hi, Geezer.  Do you have any idea "who" they are?  Thanks for comments.  Joe L. Ogan
 

Offline CZARCAR

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« Reply #8 on: 22/11/2011 20:49:24 »
whats MURPHY'S LAW?
 

Offline cheryl j

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« Reply #9 on: 23/11/2011 01:15:16 »
I must admit, though, back in the 80s when I first heard about the Iran-Contra Affair, I thought it was too crazy to be real. Incidents like that make you think no scheme is too outlandish, so you do find yourself wondering at times, hmmm, what if it's true?
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #10 on: 23/11/2011 05:36:11 »
I think the best conspiracies are the ones that require hundreds of people to keep a secret for a very long time.

Most people can't keep anything secret for more than ten minutes ;D
 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #11 on: 23/11/2011 11:04:41 »
I was wondering if the study of conspiracy theories is considered a legitimate scientific endeavour (btw, I have a few of my own that I think are worthy of consideration.)

The CIA/NSA/GCHQ have a secret university that was originally started by the templars and is buried deep in the Cairngorms that is staffed by a hereditary clan of priest-tutors and kidnaps away the brightest of every generation away to study conspiracy theories
 

Offline RD

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« Reply #12 on: 23/11/2011 11:41:35 »
... The Science show Radiolab did a story on Coincidence. In it they told about a tagged balloons let go by a little girl named Laura Buxton landed far away in the back yard of another girl named Laura Buxton, same age, same pet and many other uncanny similarities.

Re: Laura Buxtons ...
Quote
What has been fascinating in this discussion is that none of the skeptics seem to feel the need to question the veracity of the story [Laura Buxton's balloon]. I wrote to John Atkinson privately, and he told me it came from The Daily Mail. Other than that, we know nothing about the truth of the story we've been discussing.]
http://www.randi.org/jr/07-20-01.html

The Daily Mail is not renowned for diligent reporting.

Quote
Laura Buxton, an English girl just shy of ten years old, didn't realize the strange course her life would take after her red balloon was swept away into the sky. It drifted south over England, bearing a small label that said, "Please send back to Laura Buxton."
http://www.radiolab.org/2009/jun/15/a-very-lucky-wind/

Perhaps someone not called Laura Buxton found the balloon and after reading the label attached delivered it to the home/garden of the wrong Laura Buxton. The odds of the balloon being found, and two “Laura Buxton”s existing within a balloon's-flight distance are not astronomical.
« Last Edit: 23/11/2011 12:20:38 by RD »
 

Offline RD

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« Reply #13 on: 23/11/2011 14:28:44 »
... The Science show Radiolab did a story on Coincidence. In it they told about a tagged balloons let go by a little girl named Laura Buxton landed far away in the back yard of another girl named Laura Buxton, same age, same pet and many other uncanny similarities.

Re: Laura Buxtons ...
Quote
What has been fascinating in this discussion is that none of the skeptics seem to feel the need to question the veracity of the story [Laura Buxton's balloon]. I wrote to John Atkinson privately, and he told me it came from The Daily Mail. Other than that, we know nothing about the truth of the story we've been discussing.]
http://www.randi.org/jr/07-20-01.html

The Daily Mail is not renowned for diligent reporting.

Quote
Laura Buxton, an English girl just shy of ten years old, didn't realize the strange course her life would take after her red balloon was swept away into the sky. It drifted south over England, bearing a small label that said, "Please send back to Laura Buxton."
http://www.radiolab.org/2009/jun/15/a-very-lucky-wind/

Perhaps someone not called Laura Buxton found the balloon and after reading the label attached delivered it to the home/garden of the wrong Laura Buxton. The odds of the balloon being found, and two “Laura Buxton”s existing within a balloon's-flight distance are not astronomical.

[BTW who hasn't accidentally encountered someone who has the same first and surname as you, I have, twice, (and I'm not a "Smith" nor a "Dave Gorman")].
« Last Edit: 23/11/2011 14:34:23 by RD »
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #14 on: 23/11/2011 17:41:21 »
[BTW who hasn't accidentally encountered someone who has the same first and surname as you, I have, twice,

I have a fairly unusual name and there is some geezer in Australia with the same name. Unfortunately, he started giving out MY email address instead of his own.

Because of this, I kept getting demands for late payment on a credit card from some vacation outfit in Australia, not to mention a lot of other bumf. It only stopped after I threatened legal action!
 

Offline damocles

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« Reply #15 on: 23/11/2011 21:42:57 »
I share a name, surname, and middle initial with a much more distinguished professor whose main interest is in the 17th century history of chemistry. There was a little confusion, soon sorted out, when we both attended the same conference at Warwick University.
I also share name and surname with a notorious murderer, a 19th century Victorian (Australia) detective, and a commentator on climate change whose views are directly opposed to my own. At first sight you might not think that my name is at all a common one, but around Aberdeen, where my paternal ancestors originate, it is quite common, and around Cromarty it must be just about the most common surname. And of course 'John' is a very common forename.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #16 on: 23/11/2011 23:17:42 »

but around Aberdeen, where my paternal ancestors originate, it is quite common, and around Cromarty it must be just about the most common surname. And of course 'John' is a very common forename.


Aderdonians are renowned for being very "economical", so, once they come up with a name, they would want to get the greatest possible use out of it.
 

Offline Don_1

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« Reply #17 on: 24/11/2011 02:02:52 »
Now I'm sure I shouldn't disclose this, but I can tell you categorically that there is a government department code named 'Contheo' which meets every Thursday at 07.00hrs in room 3¼. This powerful, all-party group has the task of planning denials of any conspiracy theory which may be leveled against parliament. It is headed by Sir Cecil of the Pestle, the only permanent member of the group and is currently engaged in planning the denial of any theory that MP's have vested interests in the banks. This is proving to be a hard nut to crack, since many MP's do indeed have such interests, as does Sir Cecil, who's wife is on the board of the ....... LOOK OUT!!! They're after me....
 

Offline cheryl j

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« Reply #18 on: 24/11/2011 23:39:15 »
Re: Laura Buxtons ...
Quote
What has been fascinating in this discussion is that none of the skeptics seem to feel the need to question the veracity of the story [Laura Buxton's balloon].

 The odds of the balloon being found, and two “Laura Buxton”s existing within a balloon's-flight distance are not astronomical.

That would be interesting but difficult to calculate - what is more mathematically probable: a balloon sent and found by two Laura Buxtons of the same age with a dozen other striking simularities OR the likelihood that the media would invent or exagerate a story for profit?

I wonder the same thing about people who win big more than once in lotteries- what is more probable- that someone could win a huge amount in the lottery twice, or that the system is crooked?
« Last Edit: 24/11/2011 23:44:26 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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« Reply #19 on: 26/11/2011 14:40:08 »
The Buxton story is typical of the "problem" with coincidences. Thousands of balloons are sent away every day, and more often than not someone finds them. Someone who has zero in common with the sender. None of those stories are ever mentioned in the news, it is just another every day event.

Ah, but one, ONE, balloon is sent and received by two people who have similarities. NOW it's a news story. The latter gets attention and people marvel. The thousands of the former are never heard of. It is so much more fun to marvel at the exception then accept the boring reality that if one does something often enough, a seemingly strange coincidence will eventually turn up.
 

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« Reply #19 on: 26/11/2011 14:40:08 »

 

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