The Conventional Wisdom of the Conspiracy Theorist

CERDAFIED - According to a social psychological study conducted by Wood M.J. and Douglas K.M., of the University of Kent (UK), the scale has tipped in favor of the Conspiracy theorists, who now out number the “conventionalist” who comment on online news.

Collecting over 2174 comments for the study, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist. 

The study, "What About Building 7?", looked at 9/11 conspiracy theories and  found that the conspiracist commentary was more sane and less hostile than that of the conventionalist. The conspiracist proved to be more open to persuasion and discussion. They tend to sift through the various theories, like Perry Mason, seeking clues from the worldly events. For them, the evidence is clearly leaning away from the official version so often that the only real sign of intelligence is to question everything. 

Conventionalists hold tight to the 9/11 official account no matter how many facts debunk the lies. The newly published study revealed that, “people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.”  

A conspiracist will defensively reject the conspiracist label while at the same time reject most official accounts on major events.  The government’s crusade against conspiracy theorists has been so successful in creating stigma that very few people consider themselves one.  Furthermore, simply labeling someone as a conspiracy theorist was an often used tactic to silence debate, a tactic that originated from the CIA in conjunction with the JFK assassination. Just as a revolutionary idea, this is something that must change. Embrace this label as a badge of honor. 

Higher education encourages questioning mainstream ideologies. The conspiracist broadens the dialogue and challenges the quickly accepted version of an event. This is an enrichment of the conversation and serves notice to government officials that the public is not easily duped. 

The conventionalist appears to be the ostrich, with its head rooted in the official version; hence they avoid the regrettable truth about American policies and the motives behind them. In an article in American Behavioral Scientist, University of Buffalo professor Steven Hoffman contends that conventionalists typically seek out information that confirms their beliefs and rejects contrary information.  This “confirmation bias” is extremely irrational. 

In the new book “Conspiracy Theory in America”, the author and political scientist Lance de Haven-Smith, reveals that a very large number of conspiracy claims have turned out to be true.  The only way the government could quarantine the truth, was to try to marginalize its speaker. 

Humans have a long history of questioning the motives behind political and social events. Suspicion was the prized possession of the wise man for centuries. Patrick Henry once said, “Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds …Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.” 

Be suspect of the corporate web hiding behind our leaders. Our political elite has subverted democracy in pursuit of global domination and they have cloaked themselves as patriots and servants of the public interest. Nothing could be further from the truth. Self interest is the dominating force. It is not subtle, and you can not escape the Orwellian script like aftermath of it. 

Yet there are those who cling sentimentally to institutions, political leaders and their lies despite logic, evidence, and result.


(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.)



Citation: Wood MJ and Douglas KM (2013) “What about building 7?” A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Front. Psychol. 4:409. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00409





Vol 11 Issue 58

Pub: July 19, 2013