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Archive for August 15th, 2007

Conspiracy Theories

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Via Schneier on Security, this New Scientist article, a copy here.

So what kind of thought processes contribute to belief in conspiracy theories? A study I carried out in 2002 explored a way of thinking sometimes called “major event – major cause” reasoning. Essentially, people often assume that an event with substantial, significant or wide-ranging consequences is likely to have been caused by something substantial, significant or wide-ranging.

I gave volunteers variations of a newspaper story describing an assassination attempt on a fictitious president. Those who were given the version where the president died were significantly more likely to attribute the event to a conspiracy than those who read the one where the president survived, even though all other aspects of the story were equivalent.

(Update: The “copy” is down, but you should be able to access the New Scientist. If not, here’s a sentence from the article you can Google for: “How can we account for the link between race, income level and conspiracy theories?”)


Written by S

Wed, 2007-08-15 at 20:34:48

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