When Conspiracists Psychoanalyze

deirdre

Senior Member.
What is it that makes you say that you don't understand it?
Mick's comment right before i said that.
His clarification to you sounds like the only focus is on strategies to "fix" CTers. CTers bad. Debunkers good.

I thought (and you took from, i can tell) the article was saying debunkers need to be aware CTers pathologize us but that we also pathologize them and we shouldnt do that. and as ZW pointed out that is mostly what is happening in the comment part of the thread. everyone pathologizing THEM. CTers bad. Debunkers good.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Yeah - which is why I was hoping to steer it more towards "how about we look at ourselves" (as well as the fact that "CTists do it cos they want to feel special/secure" has been done to death and seems to be missing the point).

I think Mick's point still stands - CTists do seem off base way more often than debunkers in these regards (to generalise) - but it doesn't mean we should put it all on them.

So let's ask ourselves: why do we debunk? Why do we think it's worthwhile? What potentially unhealed parts of ourselves drive this? Do we have a need to feel "right"? Are we drawn to conflict and argument? Are we distracting ourselves from other less pleasant aspects of our lives and life in general? And even, at some people believe about Mick, is there a hangover from some childhood issue fueling some of this?

Seems a more interesting avenue to explore than simply reiterating, as you say, "CTers bad, debunkers good."
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
The question "Why Conspiracists Psychoanalyze?", in effect, concerns the psychology of the conspiracist prompting them to psychoanalyze. It would therefore be ridiculous to forcibly separate the question from the overall dynamics of conspiracist psychology. Rather, understanding that overall psychology is likely to illuminate this specific question.
They psychoanalyze for the same reasons we psychoanalyze them. we can speculate on why they psychoanalyze, but we dont have to speculate to discuss why WE psychoanalyze. so that is probably a better starting point. no?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
(as well as the notion that "CTists do it cos they want to feel special/secure" has been done to death and seems to be missing the point).
in fairness, we have been on MB a long time. most people on MB now are new members and they may not know that stuff.

(just like they may not know the title of Micks books says "using...respect", esp since that isnt harped on on MB like it used to be harped on on MB).
 

Rory

Senior Member.
i strongly disagree.

Can you explain?

(And to make sure there's no misunderstanding, what I meant by "in these regards" was to do with the psychological analysis of what's behind our respective viewpoints. To summarise, debunkers tend to feel that there's something a little bit wrong with their mindcogs - perhaps paranoia, perhaps delusion, certainly believing things that can be proven to be untrue, as well as deeper issues to do with self-identity and security - while CTists tend to feel that we are sheep, frightened, brainwashed by the mainstream media and the official story, or perhaps part of The Powers That Be ourselves.)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Can you explain?
I'm bullied enough on this site now, i think i'll pass on that one. But i think what you wrote shows enough that debunkers can be just as bad if not worse. I'd rather be called a sheep or brainwashed or a shill, then a stupid pathological paranoid lunatic.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Well, I'm sorry to hear that you feel so bullied that you don't want to share your thoughts on that. But won't push.

I will just ask though - if I'd typed:

I think Mick's point still stands - CTists do seem to miss the mark way more often than debunkers in these regards (to generalise) - but it doesn't mean we should put it all on them.

would you still have stated that you "strongly disagree"?

That was my original rendering - but I changed it to "off base" because I'd already used the word "miss" in the previous sentence.

I thought "off base" meant more or less the same thing, though didn't like it as much. Now I'm wondering if it doesn't mean what I think it means.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
would you still have stated that you "strongly disagree"?
yes.

do they actually miss the mark more often? there are alot of debunkers (here but esp on youtube/facebook etc) that come across as rather unsoundly "passionate" on a subject. is it "normal" to get so upset and snarky or outright insulting, just because someone disagrees with you?
yes, if the cter is actually bullying you or others then i can see getting upset (that's the behavior that makes me upset), but if they just disagree with you over whether a bolt could snap or whether a blob in the sky is a UFO or whether a contrail is water or a toxic chemical, it's weird to see some debunkers get so upset.

or some debunkers kinda stalk CTer people on the internet. some following is normal, but i see debunkers crossing the line into what i consider "odd behavior".

do i think a slight majority CTers over generalize debunkers to think they are all mentally ill? sure. but:

Article:
But most conspiracists are essentially ordinary people who just hold some mistaken beliefs


but from what we read on MB or other debunking forums it sounds like debunkers think all cters are deluded or paranoid or whatever. I do myself, get the impression that a slight majority of debunkers think every who holds any belief they consider stupid is a nutjob. Like how people here will bring up so casually religious people as if it's a slur. recently a debunker just called everyone who voted for a candidate "paranoid lunatics". That's ridiculous.

anyway...
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I can't disagree with your overarching points. But I'm also glad you reposted that quote.

What I meant was "CTists have more mistaken beliefs about certain specific world events and how the world generally works than debunkers do."

That seems the same to me as "off base" or "missing the mark". At least, that's what I intended.

Your expanded interpretation, though, seems like a good jumping off point for deeper discussion.
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
i would be shocked if they don't. But i agree with your point. It seems to me the difference in how MANY people believe a particular conspiracy theory/false flag, is size of the event and amount of (and context of) media coverage. <this ties into political responses to each event. 9/11 was a huge event and led to war. smaller terrorist attacks likely result in increased defense budgets but those aren't typically covered much by media.
I would be also shocked if I didn't see that from at least a few. It's like some of the most hardcore chemtrail believers. FIrst they say it has only being happening since ..... (1996 is the oldest but some people start with 2011 or whenver they got involved) Then when you show older contrails etc which completely discredit their "proof" they reply, it's been going on longer than we thought, and then some people start claiming nearly all clouds are fake. and the "new" clouds that appear in 1899 books just show it's older than they thought and then they start to claim paintings from the 1600s are showing fake clouds. From that, I really wouldn't be shocked to find some people believe ALL terror attacks are false flags.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
there are alot of debunkers (here but esp on youtube/facebook etc) that come across as rather unsoundly "passionate" on a subject. is it "normal" to get so upset and snarky or outright insulting, just because someone disagrees with you?

I don't think so. When I was doing my flat earth debunking videos I was both trying to do it in a way that wasn't snarky or insulting and that challenged other debunkers to be less like that.

Indeed, after some time I felt that I would have a much higher probability of success in helping anti-flat earthers let go of their anger, their fear, their frustration and their nastiness than I would in persuading anyone out of their flat earth belief.

Probably on both counts, as usual, I failed. ;)

if they just disagree with you over whether a bolt could snap or whether a blob in the sky is a UFO or whether a contrail is water or a toxic chemical, it's weird to see some debunkers get so upset.

True. And, again, my challenge to the so-called debunkers - some of the more unpleasant ones that spring to mind would be Craig "Fight the Flat Earth" and Professor Dave - would have been along the lines of "if you're truly much smarter than these people you denigrate then wouldn't the smart approach to be less bothered by it, and less mean?"

Some said they were inspired by that to change. But I don't think they did.

Humans are humans. It's hard not to be ourselves. What can one do? :D

some debunkers kinda stalk CTer people on the internet. some following is normal, but i see debunkers crossing the line into what i consider "odd behavior".

Yep. It's a symbiotic relationship. I can't fathom those such as FTFE or SciManDan who haven't grown tired of it yet.

Then again, I'm sure there's plenty of what I do with my life that millions of people wouldn't be able to fathom also (and rightly so).

recently a debunker just called everyone who voted for a candidate "paranoid lunatics". That's ridiculous.

That happened here?
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
Do we have a need to feel "right"? Are we drawn to conflict and argument? Are we distracting ourselves from other less pleasant aspects of our lives and life in general?
I think we do/are a bit. One of my friends dismisses CTs out of hand and says they are all bollocks. I have spent a great deal of time looking at CTs only to conclude basically the same thing. Obviously I have fulfilled a curiosity about these things, fulfilled a need to feel right, and also learned an awful lot of stuff I wouldn't have previously, but at the same time, have I just wasted large parts of my life when I could have just dismissed it all like my friend and ended in the same position?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
What I meant was "CTists have more mistaken beliefs about certain specific world events and how the world generally works than debunkers do."
lol. oh that's completely different then how i read you post in the context of the discussion we weer having :)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
why do we debunk? Why do we think it's worthwhile? What potentially unhealed parts of ourselves drive this? Do we have a need to feel "right"? Are we drawn to conflict and argument? Are we distracting ourselves from other less pleasant aspects of our lives and life in general?
i do it primarily because i am the sort of person who looks every question i have up online. I'm really grateful people spend time to post information.
Like when my car wasn't working right I found the answer on a car forum of people discussing the issue.
When i couldn't get a drawer out of a dresser (unbelievable) i found a video someone uploaded showing that you had to move the latches in OPPOSITE directions... i NEVER would have figured that out without his video!

i get super frustrated if i google a question and can't find an answer or an answer i can understand (ie like engineers not translating for lay people) or trust/somewhat trust.

but i actually enjoy looking things up (when im in the mood), i love puzzles and solving mysteries. so 'debunking' kinda covers all those things i like to do. (and since i like science [a bit] and ghosts and crypto... this sort of site is more interesting and varied then me posting and researching for a car forum)

I started and learned about debunking for personal (healing) reasons, but NOW i do it for the reasons above. I hate conflict and argument and impoliteness and bullying. I definitely dont feel i need to be right (i think i hover near the spectrum, and frankly i dont care what other people think...meaning, it's natural to me that others think differently to me) <to clarify i dont feel the need for others to confirm i am right, i know they know i'm right ;) except when i'm wrong, but i'm ok with that too..being wrong doesnt crush my female psyche.

I'm not distracting from less pleasant parts of my life, if anything debunking reminds me of the less pleasant parts. I am distracting from boredom or sometimes cleaning the house add: doing work i should be doing, like right now<i guess that counts as less pleasant life in general?

None of this means i don't have mental issues, I just dont think i have mental issues in the context of "why i debunk".
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
I can't fathom those such as FTFE or SciManDan who haven't grown tired of it yet.
Dan may have. His channel has moved strongly into debunking science that "everybody knows," but that ain't so. Things like "Do goldfish really have memories that only last a few seconds?" And the like. If you thought his content abrasive before, I doubt you would now... but you might find it boring, as so far he's doing stuff that "everybody knows" but that his audience is likely to already know is incorrect.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Dan may have. His channel has moved strongly into debunking science that "everybody knows," but that ain't so. Things like "Do goldfish really have memories that only last a few seconds?" And the like. If you thought his content abrasive before, I doubt you would now... but you might find it boring, as so far he's doing stuff that "everybody knows" but that his audience is likely to already know is incorrect.

Not really. He's still doing flat earth and other silly stuff. Perhaps he's weaning himself off and trying to move into a new area - but many times less views on the goldfish and ostrich videos than on his "flat earth fail" stuff so it'll be interesting to see which direction he takes now he knows what earns the money.

1659052914252.png
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
Interesting. I'd wondered if views were falling off on flat earth and the like so he started looking for the next thing. If so, this aint it. But I noticed Conspiracy Cats looking for new subject matter as well... and Ialways found him more cheeky than snarky...
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
I hate conflict and argument and impoliteness and bullying. I definitely dont feel i need to be right (i think i hover near the spectrum, and frankly i dont care what other people think...meaning, it's natural to me that others think differently to me) <to clarify i dont feel the need for others to confirm i am right

Good stuff.

As to CT believers, psychoanalyzing the debunkers offers a rational sounding reason to dismiss their argument. In some psychology books this is called 'intellectualization'. Some 'skeptics' (which I would somewhat differentiate as a category from 'debunkers' despite some overlap) do the same especially in relation to religious concepts some of which are less crazy than others, and caricaturize (as strawmen) those more sensible notions in order not to deal with them.

Inasmuch as believers often betray a disturbing sense of collective moral self-righteousness and judgmentalism, the label of a ‘skeptic’, especially for many a young recruit, carries a self-serving thrill of belonging to an intellectual elite mocking, overtly or quietly, the ‘other’ tribe of superstitious idiots.

Article:
Intellectualization is a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress. It involves removing one's self, emotionally, from a stressful event. Intellectualization is often accomplished through rationalization; rather than accepting reality, one may explain it away to remove one's self.[1][2]


One type of emotional stress people avoid through intellectualization is feeling they're wrong and the burden to change. Despite being a healthy form of stress imo.
 
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LilWabbit

Senior Member
A 9/11 truther believes a group of domestic schemers pulled off this monstrous attack to create justification for wars that benefited them and faced zero consequences, and could do so again. Someone who believes the mainstream view thinks it was just a group of ragtag jihadists, and the US army went over there and kicked their asses. If I was picking my beliefs on the basis of what made me feel more secure, I would rather believe the culprits have all been dealt with.

Nice to make your virtual acquaintance @Henkka and a belated welcome to MB! I was going to ask you this on the WTC fire thread but I guess this is a more appropriate context. I would appreciate a brutally honest answer while holding no judgment no matter what it may be:

Does the idea that the 9/11 WTC collapse was caused by some nefarious group controlling the US government produce some kind of emotional payoff / comfort because it supports some narrative about the world that you hold dear to some extent?

If so, then your technical CD arguments on the other thread may represent an intellectualization as well as a rationalization for that emotionally rewarding idea as discussed in my previous post. In other words, belief comes first, and the search for intellectually convincing arguments to prove yourself right comes next (i.e. confirmation bias).

If not, then you're genuinely persuaded and puzzled by the technical arguments made by the 'truthers' and merely seeking further technical clarification on the WTC collapse at MB which could help you to independently establish whether the truthers are right or not.

Or could it be a hybrid of both or more reasons?
 

Henkka

Active Member
Nice to make your virtual acquaintance @Henkka and a belated welcome to MB! I was going to ask you this on the WTC fire thread but I guess this is a more appropriate context. I would appreciate a brutally honest answer while holding no judgment no matter what it may be:

Does the idea that the 9/11 WTC collapse was caused by some nefarious group controlling the US government produce some kind of emotional payoff / comfort because it supports some narrative about the world that you hold dear to some extent?

If so, then your technical CD arguments on the other thread may represent an intellectualization as well as a rationalization for that emotionally rewarding idea as discussed in my previous post. In other words, belief comes first, and the search for intellectually convincing arguments to prove yourself right comes next (i.e. confirmation bias).

If not, then you're genuinely persuaded and puzzled by the technical arguments made by the 'truthers' and merely seeking further technical clarification on the WTC collapse at MB which could help you to independently establish whether the truthers are right or not.

Or could it be a hybrid of both or more reasons?
It could be a hybrid, as I said there I think there are real psychologically appealing things about believing in conspiracies. My only argument was just that the "It gives a sense of security" one makes absolutely no sense to me, most conspiracy theories do the opposite. The appealing things would be like that you're one of the few who knows this great truth, you've outwitted experts of a field you have no training in, you're on the hunt for these powerful villains orchestrating world events... While in reality, you're just posting on the internet to spend the time. I don't think anyone is 100% immune to this sort of stuff, no matter what you believe. Obviously, there are psychologically appealing things about believing the official story, such as that the culprits have already been dealt with.

And I agree that we often decide what we believe on an emotional level first, and then construct some intellectual reasoning for it. This applies to the WTC event as well... When a plane hits a building, and then an hour later the building collapses, an impression is immediately formed in the mind that the plane caused the building to collapse. Once that impression is formed, is is incredibly difficult to shake off, especially when it's reinforced on an emotional level with narratives about scary muslims hating your freedom 24/7.

What got me interested in 9/11 was about a year ago, learning for the first time the official explanation for the collapse of WTC 7. The idea that it was the first tall building to ever collapse from fire, the free fall, the way Shyam Sunder and John Gross awkwardly stammer through their answers, it felt like some absurd comedy to me. But maybe I'm wrong, and I've just gone crazy. A crazy person is never going to admit they're crazy.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
It could be a hybrid, as I said there I think there are real psychologically appealing things about believing in conspiracies. My only argument was just that the "It gives a sense of security" one makes absolutely no sense to me, most conspiracy theories do the opposite. The appealing things would be like that you're one of the few who knows this great truth, you've outwitted experts of a field you have no training in, you're on the hunt for these powerful villains orchestrating world events... While in reality, you're just posting on the internet to spend the time. I don't think anyone is 100% immune to this sort of stuff, no matter what you believe. Obviously, there are psychologically appealing things about believing the official story, such as that the culprits have already been dealt with.

And I agree that we often decide what we believe on an emotional level first, and then construct some intellectual reasoning for it. This applies to the WTC event as well... When a plane hits a building, and then an hour later the building collapses, an impression is immediately formed in the mind that the plane caused the building to collapse. Once that impression is formed, is is incredibly difficult to shake off, especially when it's reinforced on an emotional level with narratives about scary muslims hating your freedom 24/7.

What got me interested in 9/11 was about a year ago, learning for the first time the official explanation for the collapse of WTC 7. The idea that it was the first tall building to ever collapse from fire, the free fall, the way Shyam Sunder and John Gross awkwardly stammer through their answers, it felt like some absurd comedy to me. But maybe I'm wrong, and I've just gone crazy. A crazy person is never going to admit they're crazy.

I really appreciate your honest answer as well as your capacity for lucid self-reflection (I'd say it is more an exception than the norm these days). The way I see it is as follows.

Taking a position on any matter takes zero effort. Taking a sensible position takes little effort from the unbiased uninformed. Taking an educated position takes moderate to considerable effort from the unbiased uninformed. Taking a professional position takes great to formidable effort from the unbiased uninformed. Regard the foregoing four levels of 'having a position' as a rough scale. As to the biased and uninformed, no amount of objective research satisfies the bias and hence all research is bound to be biased and subjective. Even if the biased 'investigator' is otherwise willing to put in the research effort, his research selectively explores data that confirms the bias and ignores other data that challenges it.

In the matter of WTC collapse it takes very little effort to take a sensible position after watching the mainstream 9/11 media coverage live. One need not be a scientist, a structural engineer or a metallurgy Ph.D. to do so. The fact that mainstream news outlets across the political spectrum were remarkably unanimous on the analysis of the coverage was a plus. The fact that expert analysis agrees with the viewers' sensible impression is another plus.

When the obvious explanation holds water while the observer has no particular emotional payoff to derive from it (i.e. the observer is being unbiased), there's simply no need nor compulsion to search for intricate ulterior motives which invite a formidable onus of extra proof.
 

Henkka

Active Member
When the obvious explanation holds water while the observer has no particular emotional payoff to derive from it (i.e. the observer is being unbiased), there's simply no need nor compulsion to search for intricate ulterior motives which invite a formidable onus of extra proof.
I suppose, but I could argue there would be extremely strong emotional reasons to later reject any alternative explanation, no matter how well reasoned. So yeah, on the day of 9/11, of course there is no "emotional payoff" to believing the planes collapsed the buildings, it just seems to be an obvious observation of what happened. But then many years later, if someone makes an argument that this is possibly not what really happened, I'd say there are extremely strong emotional reasons to reject whatever argument they're making.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
Not if there were
I suppose, but I could argue there would be extremely strong emotional reasons to later reject any alternative explanation, no matter how well reasoned. So yeah, on the day of 9/11, of course there is no "emotional payoff" to believing the planes collapsed the buildings, it just seems to be an obvious observation of what happened. But then many years later, if someone makes an argument that this is possibly not what really happened, I'd say there are extremely strong emotional reasons to reject whatever argument they're making.

Not for the sensible observer if such arguments successfully accounted for the wide range of testable theory predictions (observables) they would logically imply. Thus far they haven't while the obvious explanation has.

To be sensible and reasonable is not the same as being emotional.
 

Henkka

Active Member
To be sensible and reasonable is not the same as being emotional.
Sure, and I'm not saying everyone who rejects 9/11 trutherism, or isn't at least skeptical of some aspects of the official explanations, must be doing so for emotional reasons. I think that's the sort of psychonanalyzing that isn't helpful at all and is pretty condescending... Like saying that Mick only debunks UFOs because of his childhood fears or something like that. I'm just saying that for an average member of the public, there would be compelling psychological reasons for rejecting alternative explanations.

And by the way, I don't just mean that 9/11 trutherism would be shocking, disturbing and saddening to come to believe. I think there's another psychological thing going on relating to conspiracies that hasn't been discussed, and that's a kind of tribalism that has become entwined with politics. I feel like if I mention anything conspiratorial on somewhere like Reddit, people will instantly assume I'm some kind of hardcore QAnon Trumper as well. It seems people think there's a kind of "conspiracy theorist" tribe, who believes the moon landing was hoaxed, the earth is flat, Trump is still president, vaccines will kill you, the twin towers were demolished, covid-19 is fake, JFK is alive, and so on. And then you've got the "skeptic" tribe, who opposes all those beliefs. If you believe in any of those things, people will assume you believe in all the others as well, and treat you like a member of an enemy tribe. Well, that's what it feels like to me, at least.
 

LilWabbit

Senior Member
I'm just saying that for an average member of the public, there would be compelling psychological reasons for rejecting alternative explanations.

Only if we assume that the average member of the public accepting the obvious WTC explanation isn't capable of an unemotional and reasonable assessment of the footage and of appreciating the overall consensus of a wide range of otherwise politically slanted news networks.

Yes, sometimes even the majority gets something right and in doing so being positively bipartisan and non-tribalistic about it.

And by the way, I don't just mean that 9/11 trutherism would be shocking, disturbing and saddening to come to believe. I think there's another psychological thing going on relating to conspiracies that hasn't been discussed, and that's a kind of tribalism that has become entwined with politics. I feel like if I mention anything conspiratorial on somewhere like Reddit, people will instantly assume I'm some kind of hardcore QAnon Trumper as well.

I hear you loud and clear on the risk of tribalistic category mistakes and tribal prejudices paralyzing these debates. It's cancerous to dialogue. To me you do not come across a sheep needing a herd. Plus even the skeptics can be tribalistic. Whether a skeptic or a believer, engaging in a constructive debate is well-nigh impossible if every argument is directed towards a strawman assumption of what you are (a tribesman of some well-known brand) rather than towards the uniqueness that is you and your precise arguments.

Which brings us to the Skeptic's Paradox whereby many skeptics also espouse a metaphysical belief that produces an emotional payoff which precedes any and all intellectual argumentation while seeking intellectual confirmation (i.e. intellectualization). It goes something like this:

The skeptic espouses an unscientific metaphysical belief that science is the only reliable means to acquire knowledge.

This belief is a scientifically unprovable philosophical dogma as it makes an empirically untestable a priori claim on the unreliability of all other possible means to acquire knowledge. It's also not practically true in the skeptic's everyday life where he/she unwittingly accepts a wide range of fundamental philosophical/metaphysical assumptions (such as the existence of a mind-independent reality) as true and largely incontrovertible.

Its seeming sensibility lies in the fact that many metaphysical beliefs are indeed unreasonable, nonsensical and inconsistent with facts. Sometimes even demonstrably harmful. And yet, it's still a wild unscientific generalization that produces a tribalistic sense of intellectual superiority to some, a sense of a simple materialistic explanation of the world to others (not too different from a type of simplicity that some religionists also seek), or a sense of moral freedom and unaccountability for yet others.

These are all emotional payoffs (produced by unreasonable beliefs) that we can all become attached to while undermining honest, reasoned and often painstaking exploration required by a more complex reality.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
As to CT believers, psychoanalyzing the debunkers offers a rational sounding reason to dismiss their argument. In some psychology books this is called 'intellectualization'. Some 'skeptics' (which I would somewhat differentiate as a category from 'debunkers' despite some overlap) do the same especially in relation to religious concepts some of which are less crazy than others, and caricaturize (as strawmen) those more sensible notions in order not to deal with them.

I do intuitively believe that dismissal is a prime motivation for some. But just to throw it out there... i psychoanalyze (in my head*) to be KINDER. obviously i am dismissing them but i would be dismissing them anyway.

like with SH hoaxers, its so easy to let your emotions hurt your end goal. Or people who are so emotional about Trump. If your mental image of the people INCLUDES their possible mental quirks or disorders, it's much easier not to snap at them or call them names etc. Mockery, passive-aggressive insults, outright insults, etc does not produce the results that i, myself, wish to achieve as a debunker.

Maybe i am more self absorbed than most humans. I dont care if people think i am stupid, or wrong or too placating to "the evil people", what i care about is my end goal. hmm.. which is "winning" now that i think about it. But i actually never expect to "win" with the person i am directly talking to, I'm hoping to win 1 or 2 outside readers who are watching the interaction. Still @Rory didnt ask "do we do it to win?" he asked if we do it to feel "right?" :)


*i psychoanalyze outloud to be mean. very specifically to be mean and demean. we all have our cranky days at certain times of the month :)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The idea that it was the first tall building to ever collapse from fire, the free fall, the way Shyam Sunder and John Gross awkwardly stammer through their answers, it felt like some absurd comedy to me. But maybe I'm wrong, and I've just gone crazy.
I'm just saying that for an average member of the public, there would be compelling psychological reasons for rejecting alternative explanations

not understanding physics or building materials does not make you crazy.

i am biased about 911 (and i frankly think most laymen are in my boat) because i wasnt shocked the buildings came down, i was shocked they stayed standing for so long! <which is an example of my not understanding building materials.
wtc7 was a bit surprising but it never even registered on my radar for like 3 years. i was too consumed with the tragedy of loss of life. when i heard wtc7 might be "odd", i knew it was too silly to say the gov would hide explosives in that building if they actually used them. Not a soul in the country would bat an eye if they said "we took it down with explosives because it was dangerously unstable". or "the terrorists must have preplanted explosives in wtc7, just like they've done before in NYC". It's way less of a headache to just blame another reason, then to try and cover something up. <just so you know i dont think i have psychological reasons for rejecting the truther claims.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
This is part one of what I'm going to say about the issue at hand. This is about the in-group/out-group dynamic in general. And this is apropos to anyone who "pathologizes" (a real psychological term) members of the out-group.

As an introduction:

I'm once again going to point to this review of Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/b...-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman-book-review.html

Kahneman describes two different ways the brain forms thoughts:

System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious.

System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious.

Why do I cite this so often?

-In general it's a very important concept. If you understand it, it explains a lot. Daniel Kahneman's work, in total, is extremely important and enlightening.

Why I'm citing it here:

-It's apropos to the subject at hand, because you have to think about psychology in System 2. It's far too common that people rely on System 1, for reasons I touched on.

FE warns us what happens when people use System 1 when thinking about physics, optics and so on. Pretty much the same thing can happen when we use System 1 to think about psychology.

-It's apropos to the subject at hand because:
The in-group/out-group dynamic involves people thinking largely in System 1, and limiting System 2 to formulating aggressive tactics to use against out-group members.



Speculation can be important if it's done with a serious mind. This is an example of early speculation on the in-group/out-group dynamic.


Not stupidity but aggression that actually changes the way the brain works.



I'm going to talk about present day in-group/out-group dynamic theory in terms of three branches of experimental psychology:

-Social psychology describes it in terms of observable behavior.

-Cognitive-neuroscience describes what is happening in the brain.

-Evolutionary psychology attempts to explain why it developed. Why this trait was selected for, and what purpose it serves. This is the most speculative approach.

By 1963 the basic social psychology model of the in-group/out-group dynamic was maturing past early speculation. It was based on empirical studies.

Robert Bierstedt, from
Chapter 10, "Groups," in
The Social Order, McGraw-Hill, 1963, pp. 306-11

1. In-group members tend to stereotype those who are in the out-group.
2. Any threat, imaginary or real, from an out-group tends to intensify the cohesion and the solidarity of the in-group.


This social psychology definition is taken from Wikipedia:

Discrimination between in-groups and out-groups is a matter of favoritism towards an in-group and the absence of equivalent favoritism towards an out-group.[22] Out-group derogation is the phenomenon in which an out-group is perceived as being threatening to the members of an in-group.[23] This phenomenon often accompanies in-group favoritism, as it requires one to have an affinity towards their in-group. Some research suggests that out-group derogation occurs when an out-group is perceived as blocking or hindering the goals of an in-group. It has also been argued that out-group derogation is a natural consequence of the categorization process.


The following material is from a present day systematic review. It is from the cognitive-neuroscience perspective - what's going on in the brain when we react against an out-group due to increased threat, real or imaginary.

This systematic review is simplified, and has one distortion that neuroscientists would recognize as shorthand and translate. Neuroscientists don't speak in terms of brain structures in isolation from a larger circuit - e.g. the amygdala does this and the insula does that. They speak in terms of systems or circuits.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01868/full

Chart.jpg

The important concept here is that the human brain can switch into a different mode of thought by inhibiting some systems and disinhibiting (activating) others.

Perception - Visual
Amygdala - Activation. Threat perception. Looking at the face of an out-group member activates a circuit that increases the feeling that you are being threatened/in danger. And everything that goes with it. Because we have the capacity to visualize and to imagine, just thinking about a member of the out-group can trigger threat perception.

People are usually highly sensitive to menaces and attacks from outgroup members against the ingroup because they could pose an existential threat.

Fusiform face area - Inhibited. The face of an out-group member is not recognized as an individual. But as a stereotyped member of the out-group as a whole.

Empathy
Anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula - Inhibited. Reduced empathy for out-group members.

Mentalizing (aka Theory of Mind) - our ability to explain and predict other people’s behavior by attributing to them independent mental states, such as beliefs, intentions and desires. The two most common brain areas reliably involved in mentalizing are the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and temporoparietal junction

Medial prefrontal cortex, temporoparietal junction - inhibited. We have no insight into the true mental states such as beliefs, intentions and desires of an out-group member. Without this insight we substitute our own stereotyped attributions. In other words, pathological, automatic, inferior, immoral thought processes.

Moral Sensitivity - For in-group members we feel greater moral sensitivity. In other words, we have their best interests at heart. We choose behaviors, that will enhance their well-being. We also attribute the same feeling to members of our in-group. They have our best interests at heart. (Is this love?)

Lateral orbitofrontal cortex - inhibited. We believe out-group members wish us harm and we plan ways to do them harm.

Reward System - We feel good.

Lateral orbitofrontal cortex, striatum - Activated.
We feel good when members of our in-group are doing well, and when out-group members are suffering.

In-Group bias - When thinking about the core beliefs of an in-group (for example UFOlogy) System 2 thinking is suppressed. People tend to indulge in all the cognitive biases that Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman identified; e.g. confirmation bias, the framing effect. A group effort to build a cohesive story is made, and anything that goes against the cohesive story is dismissed. System 2 thinking is only used to construct sophistries to defend the core belief, or to originate schemes to harm someone who questions it.

download (2).jpg

When dealing with subjects that have nothing to do with the core beliefs of the in-group, a person can be quite rational and intelligent. (Maybe even a PhD in physics or engineering?)



An addition to what is mentioned in this article:

Moral Disgust

Functional Dissociation of the Posterior and Anterior Insula in Moral Disgust

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992674/

... the PI [posterior Insula} component represents people’s basic moral disgust that is directly embodied by the sensory components of physical disgust, whereas the AI [anterior insula] components represent a secondary level of moral disgust that is related to the affective components of physical disgust.

... disgust in response to moral violations is built on more basic types of disgust (such as the disgust associated with distaste for food and body waste products) and how it develops a more integrative and abstract form of mental representation.


In other words, one of the original functions of the insula was to warn mammalian organisms that something was unfit to eat or come into contact with. The visceral emotion of disgust.

In humans, (and other mammals?) this physical disgust function has been expanded to give us a feeling of moral disgust. The universal feeling of bad and good. "Food good! Fire bad!"

We feel the same bodily sensations when thinking about bad people as we do when we encounter some physical thing that is disgusting. "You're shitty. You're a vomit. You're a maggot."


A prime environmental factor in increasing in-group/out-group aggression in any social mammal is decreasing resources - e.g. food, water. For most social mammals this takes the form of fighting for resources that decline due to natural forces; e.g. drought. Humans have the ability to plan and the social cohesion to take away access to resources.

This extends to core beliefs of a person and of the in-group. People become aggressive when they perceive that someone - or an outgroup - is attempting to take away a core belief.

In the case of UFOlogists, their core belief about UFOs - they are mysterious, and cosmically important - is threatened by Skeptical debunking. Skeptics are trying to take away an important resource. A core belief.

Skeptics perceive that UFOlogists are trying to take away Rationality. Skeptics as a group highly value rationality. Much more than the average person. It's a core belief.

Thus in-group/out-group aggression is triggered. Once that begins it's easy to get caught up in it, and it's difficult to stop or even to moderate.


According to Evolutionary Psychology - the most speculative of the three types of psychology I'm dealing with here:

The function of in-group cohesion and out-group aggression, the reason why it was selected for, is this:

Groups who increase their own cohesion and cooperate to reduce the population of another group by killing members of the other group (or otherwise reduce their numbers by restricting resources) more effectively pass on their their in-group/out-group dynamic genes.

A group with genes for in-group cohesion and for out-group aggression increases. A group without such genes decreases.

Speculation? Sure. But I think this is pretty solid speculation.


We don't usually kill UFOlogists or Flat Earthers, and they don't usually kill us but...
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Skeptics perceive that Ufologists are trying to take away Rationality. Skeptics as a group highly value rationality. Much more than the average person.

i'm highlighting this sentence since your post was so long.

I think it goes to the perception that skeptics are intellectual snobs or think they are morally and intellectually superior. 'We' may be right when we bang on about logical fallacies, whataboutisms or refusing submissions of magical thought, but the average person is maybe turned off by this as they don't hold strict rationality to the same level of value as skeptics. ?

so the question is: are we trying to show off to fellow skeptics, or are we trying to impart some facts (in an acceptable manner) to people who actually believe the bunk we are debunking. ?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
We don't usually kill UFOlogists or Flat Earthers, and they don't usually kill us but...

...we would if we could! :D

That's a joke - I'm assuming that's where your dots were heading - but there may be some out there that think that way.

Their ideas and mode of thinking is what the opponents want to no longer exist. If all other methods fail, why not just make the people themselves no longer exist?

My own (amateur, anecdote-based) speculation may link to what you said about core beliefs and how one side perceives the other as attempting to "take away an important resource".

It really seems to me that when one's sense of self - of self-indentity - is wrapped up in one's beliefs - when one has made a heavy investment in said beliefs - and this is threatened by the words, beliefs, actions, etc of others (or, indeed, what we like to call facts) then this must be battered away and defended against at all costs.

Truth, therefore, isn't the issue: it's the degree to which one has invested and enmeshed one's self-identity with the beliefs, whatever they may be.

The answer? Base one's sense of self on something other than ideas and beliefs and don't be attached to them. They're just ephemeral fluff. If they can be taken away they're nothing to build an identity on.

Not that I can say it's not still uncomfortable when certain old beliefs I have are shown to be erroneous - especially if I like them or have repeated them to others in the past - but knowing that the period of discomfort will pass and that beliefs aren't necessary for my survival makes staying with that feeling and going through it worthwhile.

Still @Rory didnt ask "do we do it to win?" he asked if we do it to feel "right?" :)

Perhaps "winning" is better wording there though. :)

That's a tricky area because who doesn't like winning, who doesn't like being right? They seem like useful and desirable things. I guess it's when it gets ugly that it's a problem, when it becomes about "defeating" and even "crushing" an opponent: I can certainly detect in myself the occasional desire to "bully" online - in my defense, I think I pretty much always try to punch up - and certainly I sometimes notice a desire, maybe when I'm grumpy or bored, to find someone to argue with, no matter what it's about. A bit of conflict and a bit of tussle feels good - though I generally quickly grow tired of it and wonder why I'm bothering.

I can also see something of an inherited family trait that tends towards the critical and fault finding. I've wrestled with that but I might as well be wrestling with the colour of my hair or eyes or any other thing I've inherited. It seems embedded and innate, a naturally arising excitement in noticing mistakes and errors and the places where people have gone wrong. Not so great in life or human interactions but very useful when writing and proofreading and editing or generally making things that it would be better if they were better better.

Maybe the world needs proofreaders and editors though. Books and movies are bad enough as it is - imagine what they'd be like in the absence of any pain in the ass critics! :D

Debunking is a whole mixed bag - a whole range and spectrum - and going back to what Deirdre was saying several posts ago perhaps I focus too much on the more militant and aggressive debunkers and skeptics and the seemingly weird psychological places they come from. For many of us it's simply about solving a puzzle, and one more interesting and challenging - and even useful - than a sudoku. For some it really is about stamping out the falsehoods and untruths in the world, with varying degrees of zealotry and vengeance (including pretty much no degree at all). And, of course, our positions on the spectrums will probably change over time - at least I'd like to think they should, with a bit of experience and maybe even wisdom (eg, by chilling out a bit).

Anyway, metabunk doesn't seem like a great representation of "zealots and militants" - though perhaps those who battle it out in the political sections may disagree.
 

Rory

Senior Member.

My Childhood Alien "Trauma"​


More recently, a paragraph in the New Yorker about me was gleefully seized upon by UFO enthusiasts who were confused and angry with me for spending so much time investigating and then debunking UFO videos. In reality, I do that because enjoy the challenge of figuring out what is often a complex 3D puzzle mixed with fascinating detective work. But what they found instead was:

This is true, a scary story had frightened me for a few weeks, over 40 years ago. My discovery that these old cases often had solutions was indeed part of my motivation for debunking. Once you figure one thing out, it's fun to figure other similar things out. But some UFO fans took this story to mean that I have a pathological fear of aliens and that I now spend time debunking them to convince myself they were not real, even though I secretly think they are.

I confess, I speculated something along those lines when I recently heard you talking about your Catholic upbringing and the disillusionment/disappoint that followed when you decided there was nothing in it (really terrific interview, by the way).

Reminded me of a comment you made in the "conversations with materialists" thread and made me wonder if perhaps some of that childhood disappointment wasn't responsible for the surprising amount of "energy" that appeared to exist underneath/behind the words.

Of course, the position (whatever it is) may be rational, but it's the energy behind it that's of interest - such as with psychological projection: it's not so much whether we judge or disapprove of or criticise others, it's how triggered we are by what they're doing or saying that reveals that part of ourselves that maybe needs looking at and working on.

Unlike your UFO fellas, however, I have nothing other than idle unimportant musings and no attachment to being right about it in even the slightest way, so it's all good by me.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
and going back to what Deirdre was saying several posts ago perhaps I focus too much on the more militant and aggressive debunkers and skeptics and the seemingly weird psychological places they come from.
and skeptics focus too much on the more militant and aggressive bunk believers (or the more militant and aggressive people who have different ideas than us). The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
 

Mythic Suns

Member
I do still think that some more contemplation on "the psychologies of debunkers" could be illuminating - eg, what drives us, why we think it's necessary, what underlying causes may lead us to commit so much time to something which appears mostly futile - but perhaps another thread is the place for that sort of thing.
I won’t go too deep into this as I don’t want to steer the thread off topic but for me the need to debunk comes from a place of fear. Every time I’ve heard a doomsayer or a conspiracy theorist share their theory it’s often ended up being something that sounds terrifying which leads me to desperately, and often times privately, find a way to prove their theory wrong.

On a sidenote: i’ve also found it kind of interesting that there’s rarely conspiracy theories about (insert organisation or individual here) conspiring to do something nice. Just once i’d like to hear about the illuminati conspiring to send me £1,000,000,000 without the theory needing to end with some dark twist (most likely involving me being a member of the illuminati).
 

Henkka

Active Member
I won’t go too deep into this as I don’t want to steer the thread off topic but for me the need to debunk comes from a place of fear. Every time I’ve heard a doomsayer or a conspiracy theorist share their theory it’s often ended up being something that sounds terrifying which leads me to desperately, and often times privately, find a way to prove their theory wrong.

On a sidenote: i’ve also found it kind of interesting that there’s rarely conspiracy theories about (insert organisation or individual here) conspiring to do something nice. Just once i’d like to hear about the illuminati conspiring to send me £1,000,000,000 without the theory needing to end with some dark twist (most likely involving me being a member of the illuminati).
You don’t need to do nice things in secret.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
On a sidenote: i’ve also found it kind of interesting that there’s rarely conspiracy theories about (insert organisation or individual here) conspiring to do something nice. Just once i’d like to hear about the illuminati conspiring to send me £1,000,000,000 without the theory needing to end with some dark twist (most likely involving me being a member of the illuminati).

Just get in with the New Age crowd: a common saying there is "the universe is conspiring to help me".

See also: pronoia.

Like many things, pronoia and paranoia seem like two sides of the same coin.
 
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