In an interview with Alysia Santo, Robert Goldberg explains why Americans are prone to conspiratorial thinking.
Here’s an excerpt: “And add another piece to this: the Internet. You go into this echo chamber, all saying that this is true, that this is possible. And what I argue is that people go onto the web, not for information, but for confirmation. If they’re already suspicious, they’re going to find their suspicions validated, and what the psychologists say is the more and more you are presented with the truth of your opinion, the stronger you hold onto those opinions and the more extreme you get.”
Read the entire interview here: A history professor explains why Americans are so prone to conspiracy theories – Business Insider
Robert Goldberg explains why we need to take conspiracy theories seriously and challenge their problematic claims. “In a conspiratorial frame of mind, we open ourselves to the rants of liars and demagogues. Perhaps, it is now time, in this season, to end denial and quit dismissing conspiracy theories as merely harmless or foolish or the work of the uninformed. Confrontation and refutation offer more valuable strategies for defeating the real enemy within.” I agree!
Brian Dunning respectfully examines the merits of the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory that the American government knew about the attack and did nothing. In conclusion he states, “Even if this presumed conspiracy to allow the attack did exist, it failed to have any effect where the rubber meets the road. No orders from Washington altered the state of readiness at Pearl Harbor. Obviously the attack ultimately did play into the hands of anyone who wanted war with Japan; every tragedy somehow benefits somebody. That doesn’t make every tragedy a conspiracy.”
Read the entire article here: Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Are conspiracy theorists prone to conspiracy thinking because they have a flawed “intellectual character”? The philosopher Quassim Cassam argues that they are. In a piece at Aeon, Cassam proposes that the “key to what they end up believing is how they interpret and respond to the vast quantities of relevant information at their disposal.” Rather than being a product of a particular environment or lacking sufficient information, he claims that the problem arises as a “result of the peculiarities of his intellectual constitution – in a word, of his intellectual character.” I think Cassam’s proposal is a welcome counter to the purely situationalist theory. But I think it is better seen as a complement to the situationalist explanation rather than a replacement for it. Read the entire article at:
Intellectual character of conspiracy theorists – Quassim Cassam – Aeon.
Donald Prothero explains the nature of science deniers. His assessment is also useful for understanding history deniers (most infamously Holocaust deniers).