Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Warning! Thinking may lead to 'serious social consequences'

Feeling apathetic? Hopeless? Lost? Have you lost confidence in the election system and politicians? One might think that these symptoms are the result of free thinking, critical thought, a peek behind the world stage curtain. Well, you're wrong. Thankfully some U.K. researchers have discovered that it's not the lies, political games, war, death, destruction or the banking system that's causing the problem but rather just that you're thinking about it too much. That's a relief, isn't it?

I came across this article last night which I'm not sure how exactly it slipped by me back in January. A completely one-sided farce which makes grand leaps from observing behaviour to fabricating the motivation. It's generally "right" but for all of the wrong reasons. Originally I wasn't going to bother replying to such weak thoughtless propaganda but a couple more articles that came out today have convinced me it's perhaps worth the effort after all. There's just no way to go about this than to reproduce the whole thing in my usual commentary style. Here we go.

Can conspiracy theories make you apathetic? Who cares

The beginning of the article sets the mood so that you know the people this article is referring to are nutcases and as such don't need to be contacted to offer any counter-points. They're just crazy anyway!
The school massacre in Newtown was a government hoax designed to bolster gun control. The destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was the result of a controlled demolition. Elvis faked his own death.
I haven't looked much into Newtown, and I have no idea about Elvis, but I do know about 9/11 so to provide a counter-point I will act as the stereo-typical "conspiracy theorist". First though, I want you to watch my recommended documentary on 9/11 which to this day has not been refuted. It's not about the towers collapsing or any of the other speculation, it's about the cold hard facts (like put options on American Airlines) and names names. You need to watch it so that we can vet whether you are, well you know, a crazy conspiracy theorist too!

If you watch it all the way through and agree with it then you should probably stop reading this blog as clearly you are way too apathetic to give a shit about anything (at least if the article is to be believed). Now, we start getting into the meat and potatoes now that you know whether you're nuts or not.
For every major event, there's a conspiracy theory to explain it. And though the temptation is to treat it as harmless paranoia, a new study finds mere exposure to such information can have serious social consequences.
"mere exposure to such information can have serious social consequences". In other words, don't even try to think for yourself or to review the available information with your own mind. Exposure to information should be feared and as we all know information can have "serious social consequences". Well like what? you might be asking, the article continues...
Researchers from the University of Kent in the U.K. found that simply reading a conspiracy theory increased people's feelings of powerlessness, which ultimately reduced their desire to politically engage. And this effect occurred even when the information wasn't directly related to government.
We come to the real definition of "politically engage" later in the article, for now you're meant to believe that means all types of political engagement.
Exposure to pro-conspiracy material on climate change, for example, not only made people less motivated to reduce their carbon footprint, it also negatively affected their interest in voting. 
I don't have much to say about this paragraph other than "climate change" and the conspiracies revolving around it vary widely. Some believe the entire narrative is false, while on the other side there are many conspiracies about industry hampering climate change change. There are both pro-climate change conspiracies, and anti-climate change conspiracies. Then there is another type of climate change conspiracy, which happens to be the one I side with: That the climate change portion is real, but "carbon taxes" and "carbon trading" are simple scams using the crisis to capitalize on it and inflate yet another financial bubble. This isn't really the topic of this post though, so I'll save this debate for another day.
"When you're exposed to a conspiracy - say, that the government is involved in secret plots - it can make you feel as though your actions won't make a difference," said doctoral student Daniel Jolley, the study's co-author. "(It) appears to trigger a conspiratorial mindset."
Yes, because the government is never involved in secret plots! The only reason "conspiracy" is on the law books must be to appease conspiracy theorists right? To think that a group of people might cooperate together to push through or operate something that may be illegal or deeply unpopular. Crazy talk. Governments don't plot secretly, they plot "national securetly".

'Underwear bomber' was working for the CIA
Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

The research, published in the British Journal of Psychology, is the first to experimentally demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between conspiracy theories and feelings of powerlessness. And this sense of reduced agency appears to weaken interest in democratic participation.
As a society.. what would we ever do without researchers to tell us that powerlessness feeling you get from witnessing countless lies from "officials" has to do with the fact you bothered to look into the lie in the first place. I mean fuck, really we should just go about our day and ignore the plainly obvious and continue to have faith in a political system where we call bribery "fundraising dinners". Just ignore the police beatings when we "engage". Oh, and also ignore CSIS:
41. Continued presence and use of large numbers of security forces, fencing, and similar restrictive measures could dampen the enthusiasm of protesters and might gradually reduce the size of some gatherings, as could adverse weather conditions. But, as demonstrated by extremist animal-rights and environmental activists, security measures could prompt a rise in the scale of violence from smashing windows to arson attacks, the use of explosive devices, and even physical threats against individuals, including posting warning letters purported to contain contaminated razor blades. The situation is paradoxical: the interest of targeted institutions and their membership in holding meetings on Canadian soil could wane if faced with stringent security precautions and movement restrictions. Conversely, Seattle-type disturbances and interference could similarly engender a loss of interest in using Canadian venues for international conferences and meetings which might prove attractive to demonstrators. Nonetheless, it has been established that antiglobalists are organizing against a number of international meetings in Canada, including the April 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Given the virulent anti-globalization rhetoric directed against the Organization of American States (OAS), the threat of Summit-associated violence in Quebec City cannot be ruled out.
The government is clearly all about you being "engaged", it's your own thinking which is getting in the way.
This bears out across two experiments conducted by Jolley and co-author Karen Douglas.

In the first, 168 university students read an article that either refuted a conspiracy theory about Princess Diana's death or endorsed it. Afterward, those in the latter group reported heightened feelings of political powerlessness in comparison with the first group, along with reduced intentions to engage in politics (such behaviour as voting or contributing money to a particular candidate's party).

In a second experiment with 191 university students, the process was repeated using articles that either presented climate change as a hoax or as a legitimate phenomenon.

Those who read the conspiratorial material were more likely to report feelings of climate powerlessness, uncertainty and disillusionment, which in turn reduced their desire to act in environmentally friendly ways. They also reported a greater sense of political powerlessness - despite the article's lack of direct reference to government - which led to reduced desire to politically engage.
And what is the content the "pro" conspiracy folks were reading? Well they don't say, something about Princess Diana which is probably dangerous information, and without the context on hand to tell us why shockingly their view of the world changed. Gee, what a surprise, right?

Also finally they tell us exactly what they mean by 'politically engaged': "such behaviour as voting or contributing money to a particular candidate's party". I don't think I need to comment further on this as my article on election fraud I think covers it. Oh but wait! what election fraud right? That's a plot! That's a conspiracy theory!! CRAZY TALK!!!! How can people not have faith in our political representation?
"There's not just one type of person who believes in conspiracies. Millions of different people believe in them," Jol-ley said.
Yes, millions of people believe in them because million of people have realized the mainstream media isn't providing any answers and so we as a people must find our own answers with limited resources to do so and fill in the gaps with speculation. Hey, Postmedia, how many reporters did you send down to Bilderberg 2012? Oh, none? Yet you're so sure that the world's richest and most powerful people all meeting for a weekend in secret isn't any more important than baking a pop tart. It almost sounds like a conspiracy unto itself, doesn't it?
Jolley and Douglas acknowledge that healthy skepticism can encourage government transparency and public debate. But they also note that conspiracy theories potentially lead to societal disengagement - and, as their research suggests, a waning interest in political and environmental participation.

"Conspiracy theories aren't necessarily just harmless fun," said Jolley. "They may have potentially serious social consequences."
This isn't "waning" political interest, we just know now the real targets to "lobby":

Check out those disengaged, apathetic, "conspiracy theorists". These researchers nailed it! Eh?

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.


  1. Late capitalism evacuates political thinking from culture because to think critically about nothing exposes the vacuum at the heart of culture. Thus, it's bad for business. Yuck.

    Great article!

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