PressTV: New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile

Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:3AM GMT

By Dr. Kevin Barrett

In short, the new study by Wood and Douglas suggests that the negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist – a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory – accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it.”

Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled “conspiracy theorists” appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events.

The most recent study was published on July 8th by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK). Entitled “What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories,” the study compared “conspiracist” (pro-conspiracy theory) and “conventionalist” (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites.

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.

Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility: “The research… showed that people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.”

Additionally, it turned out that the anti-conspiracy people were not only hostile, but fanatically attached to their own conspiracy theories as well. According to them, their own theory of 9/11 – a conspiracy theory holding that 19 Arabs, none of whom could fly planes with any proficiency, pulled off the crime of the century under the direction of a guy on dialysis in a cave in Afghanistan – was indisputably true. The so-called conspiracists, on the other hand, did not pretend to have a theory that completely explained the events of 9/11: “For people who think 9/11 was a government conspiracy, the focus is not on promoting a specific rival theory, but in trying to debunk the official account.”

In short, the new study by Wood and Douglas suggests that the negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist – a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory – accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it.

Additionally, the study found that so-called conspiracists discuss historical context (such as viewing the JFK assassination as a precedent for 9/11) more than anti-conspiracists. It also found that the so-called conspiracists to not like to be called “conspiracists” or “conspiracy theorists.”

Both of these findings are amplified in the new book Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, published earlier this year by the University of Texas Press. Professor deHaven-Smith explains why people don’t like being called “conspiracy theorists”: The term was invented and put into wide circulation by the CIA to smear and defame people questioning the JFK assassination! “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.”

In other words, people who use the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” as an insult are doing so as the result of a well-documented, undisputed, historically-real conspiracy by the CIA to cover up the JFK assassination. That campaign, by the way, was completely illegal, and the CIA officers involved were criminals; the CIA is barred from all domestic activities, yet routinely breaks the law to conduct domestic operations ranging from propaganda to assassinations.

DeHaven-Smith also explains why those who doubt official explanations of high crimes are eager to discuss historical context. He points out that a very large number of conspiracy claims have turned out to be true, and that there appear to be strong relationships between many as-yet-unsolved “state crimes against democracy.” An obvious example is the link between the JFK and RFK assassinations, which both paved the way for presidencies that continued the Vietnam War. According to DeHaven-Smith, we should always discuss the “Kennedy assassinations” in the plural, because the two killings appear to have been aspects of the same larger crime.

Psychologist Laurie Manwell of the University of Guelph agrees that the CIA-designed “conspiracy theory” label impedes cognitive function. She points out, in an article published in American Behavioral Scientist (2010), that anti-conspiracy people are unable to think clearly about such apparent state crimes against democracy as 9/11 due to their inability to process information that conflicts with pre-existing belief.

In the same issue of ABS, University of Buffalo professor Steven Hoffman adds that anti-conspiracy people are typically prey to strong “confirmation bias” – that is, they seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, while using irrational mechanisms (such as the “conspiracy theory” label) to avoid conflicting information.

The extreme irrationality of those who attack “conspiracy theories” has been ably exposed by Communications professors Ginna Husting and Martin Orr of Boise State University. In a 2007 peer-reviewed article entitled “Dangerous Machinery: ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion,” they wrote:

“If I call you a conspiracy theorist, it matters little whether you have actually claimed that a conspiracy exists or whether you have simply raised an issue that I would rather avoid… By labeling you, I strategically exclude you from the sphere where public speech, debate, and conflict occur.”

But now, thanks to the internet, people who doubt official stories are no longer excluded from public conversation; the CIA’s 44-year-old campaign to stifle debate using the “conspiracy theory” smear is nearly worn-out. In academic studies, as in comments on news articles, pro-conspiracy voices are now more numerous – and more rational – than anti-conspiracy ones.

No wonder the anti-conspiracy people are sounding more and more like a bunch of hostile, paranoid cranks.


Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He is the co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance, and author of the books Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie (2007) and Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters (2009). His website is More articles by Dr. Kevin Barrett

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15 Responses to PressTV: New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile

  1. DB says:

    Sorry, Jean… I’d read previously there were only four dead/live terrorists from 9/11. This article lists seven…

  2. DB says:

    Oh, and lest we forget, four of those *Arabs* who *flew planes into the WTC/Pentagon* are still alive and trying to clear their names and get themselves off the list of dead terrorists.

  3. DB says:

    I wonder if this study took into consideration the number of paid shills who attack those speaking the truth. I would imagine over half the number of *conventionalists* are on the payroll of some very bad *people*.

  4. Pingback: Study: Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile | Hipster Racist

  5. lecox says:

    One of the more humorous articles on the subject I have read in some time!
    The terminology psychologists use for the act of refusing to confront the truth is quite amazing!
    Similar labels have been used throughout history to try to marginalize people who ask too-pointed questions..
    One of my other personal recent favorites (since I am intimately involved) is “Scientologist.”

  6. Vla says:

    good article,thank you. First, no planes hit the world trade center buildings and a missel was used on the
    penagon,the plane in Pa was shoot down by the millitary in the air. the pictures you saw in the news
    were all made UP just like in the movies ! Were you there and saw these planes NO, you saw pictures which they MADE !!!
    Second,Buildings one and two were taking down by controled demolation using themite and then
    using direct engergy weapons ,thats why every thing including the steel turned to dust. if the engery weapons would have not been used there would be a pile of material 33% of the total structure or over 30 stories high left on the ground. Also there was a hurricane head for NYC
    about two days prior to 911 they turned the hurricane arround by 120 degrees move it due east
    out to sea. three, Building 7 they had pictures( no plane hiting it ) and anounces on the news BBC.that building 7 came down while it was still standing befor it was demolationed
    This was compltely plan (inside JOB ) it takes two to three months of planning just to do a
    demolation how could the owner (Silverstein ) tell them to ( PULL ) the building 7 on the same day wtc buildings came down if it takes months to demolation a building of that size 67 stories
    I guest most people drink to much WATER !!!!!

  7. susan says:

    I love it….

    • Jean says:

      It’s about time, don’t you think? Twelve years later? Hugs, ~Jean

      • Vla says:

        PART 2 WHY ?
        911 the begining (not really) , next start WAR ON TEROR WHO MADE A LOT OF MONEY AND GOT the GOLD ?
        WHAT HAPPEN TO THE 2.3 TRILLION dollars, I said TRILLION with a T that the penagon was missing and navy intel people were investigating about the missing money and were located in the penagon where the exact same place the missel hit and they were all killed.
        IRAQ WAR , IRAQ stoped using US petro dallars for oil AFGHANISTAN WAR, worlds largest production of COCAIN ( money needed for war on teror ) plus other things Remember Tillman, he
        was murdered, he was going to spill the beans on why we are really in this country.
        Next to the last big push for world conquest,have to conquer America and take away there guns
        after that no more guns world wide, they feel safer now! IF they could do it here (AMERICA) they
        could do it any where !!!!!
        Lets have a contest PART 3 WHO ? Mabe we should have a board game then the SHEEPS would like that and may learn somthing By the way, to all the dark that are doing the dirty deeds the powers that be have plans for you and your families too, you will not like those plans
        the powers that be, now want to reduce the world population down to 200 or 300 hundred thousand
        Do you think that they would like to keep the traitors alive ? they are just using you until they get there
        way !!!!!

        • Jean says:

          🙂 🙂 🙂 I’d have to give you an A on your paper for knowing the facts, many of which over the years I have forgotten. Hugs, ~Jean

  8. I can not believe the insane thinking that 9-11 was not a inside job , a photo is a 1000 words and seeing this one puts the icing on the cake ; LOOK hard cold steel beams turning into DUST in a cloud of DUST falling to the ground in that Picture ????????!!!!!!…..O your right a plane did that was the story of the day . The other photo’s were burned out cars 4 streets away from the twin towers I saw posted some time ago ; O a plane did that as well !!!!!!!!!!!!!????………
    The plot gets thicker and thicker as time go’e by into the future Jean, what was used to turn STEEL into dust is the $ 64.000 dollar question that the under ground government truly knows in the White House ; All I can say is GOD Help the one’s who know the inside truth..for when this ordeal comes to light ??!!!….. they will be like Snowden looking for a safe haven to hid from the US public. They must think we all fell off a apple truck falling for the plane story…. I can not stop laughing up here in Canada…yet I feel deep for the family’s who had family members die on that day ,

  9. Tom Widlar says:

    Very good article. I’ve long maintained that those who believe the official story that 19 Arabs, none of whom could fly planes with any proficiency, pulled off the crime of the century under the direction of a guy on dialysis in a cave in Afghanistan were the crazy conspiracy theorists.

    It is a standard tactic by defenders of such crazy conspiracies, that when challenged on specific elements of that story, ask you to produce your own theory on how it was done. This changes the subject from flaws in their story and allows them to attack you if you fall for it and produce a theory (with no real investigation).

    People who yammer about conspiracy theories are very suspect to me. The louder they are, the more involved they are likely to be.

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