"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Friday, April 29, 2011

More on Belief Formation; Mooney & Kay on MSNBC

I don't usually care for the intellectual bandwidth of audio and video chats on commercial media but here's an impressive exception, about conspiracy thinking and denialism, following neatly on some of my observations about belief formation yesterday.

Another related article, via David Brin's Facebook: "Belief in Conspiracies Linked to Machiavellian Mindset" by Tom Jacobs on the Miller-McCune Magazine site.
“At least among some samples and for some conspiracy theories, the perception that ‘they did it’ is fueled by the perception that ‘I would do it,’” University of Kent psychologists Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton write in the British Journal of Social Psychology.
“These studies suggest that people who have more lax personal morality may endorse conspiracy theories to a greater extent because they are, on average, more willing to participate in the conspiracies themselves.”


Alastair said...

Well they seem to be saying roughly what I wrote. You can't win the argument with reason, you have to use emotion.

The skeptics have won the argument by shouting louder than anyone else. Either they must be shouted down, or they must be exposed as fools.

Either way, engaging them in rational arguments is a total waste of time.

What is frustrating and enraging is these people are claiming they have a democratic right to their views. But they are a small fraction of the world's population and it is their intransigence which is leading to the destruction of the planet.

It is the Arctic sea ice which keeps the planet at an equitable temperature for humans. It has existed for 2 million years, but humans for only 200,000. The only way to stop the Arctic sea ice melting is end the burning of fossil fuels.

But even the scientists will not face the truth. They are no better than the skeptics.

Arthur said...

Hey, you finally found the explanation for Mosher (Machiavellian mindset) :)

Paul Daniel Ash said...

I still wouldn't want Mosher on my tean, but "stupid pet tricks" is kind of awesome.

Martin Vermeer said...

> the perception that ‘they did it’ is
> fueled by the perception that ‘I would
> do it,’

Dutch proverb: the landlord trusts his tenants like he trusts himself.

Tom said...

Well, let's see. You started by trivializing dissent. Then you ignored it. Then you medicalized it. Now you label it psychosis. I guess criminalization is next.

Hope you guys never want to do anything like communicate with those of us you have so labeled.

Michael Tobis said...

Please, Tom, we are talking about conspiracy theories, not about dissent.

Besides, if I intend to allow for disagreement in the conversation, then clearly I don't agree with everything posted.

I absolutely agree that one should treat people who disagree with dignity, and the sort of respect that everyone is due by default.

But on the other hand, if you disagree with someone not about interpretations but about what you consider facts, you need to think carefully about why the disagreement persists.

In particular, my theories about your own position cannot possibly be flattering to you. But I think you are personally sincere and well-intentioned nonetheless, and I say so regularly. I am a bit tired of the conversation suddenly being about Tom Fuller every time you show up though. We didn't particularly have you in mind here, until now, and for the purposes of the present thread I'd like to keep it that way.

Tom said...

The video makes some interesting points about 'conspiracism.' In particular, the non-Mooney guy talks about enlarging the conspiracy when someone confronts the gullible conspiracist with unwanted facts--the 'you're in on it too' phenomenon.

I know some people who get lumped in with the deniers when they confront the consensus with unpleasant news.

But of course it doesn't work that way, does it?

Michael Tobis said...

For whatever it's worth, you have a point. Paranoia cuts "both" ways, as long as we are stuck in polarization.

In more complicated situations it cuts lots of ways.

Tom said...

Yes, it does. There are no small number of skeptics that have bought into a conspiracy theory or even theories. That is not good news and not really to be laughed at, although the birther stuff makes it hard not to.

Please remember that all the points in this video apply to some number of those who think that the Koch brothers are driving the skeptic train, or similar fantasies.

I think, for example, what the Hockey Team did was wrong--and have said so to tedium, I'm sure. But I don't think it was conspiracy at all. Bad judgement and not enough input from outside.

In the same way, I think the CEI and other organisations have shown consistently poor judgement on policy and interpretation of the science. But I don't think there is a conspiracy afoot.

You are completely correct when you say it cuts both ways. I've heard it said that even Lukewarmers have their faults, difficult as that may be to believe.

steven said...

Well Arthur.

1. i do not believe in any conspiracy in climate science. As I wrote in the book I surmise that Jones underwent a change from 2002 to 2005. In part from watching the example of mann, in part perhaps because he sympathized with the pressure mann was under. Likewise Briffa, I argued was put under pressure. Briffa says as much.

2. I do not believe in the conspiritorial tales we spin about all skeptics being thralls to big oil. Specifically, I believe that Mann misread McIntyre.

3.I've kept my criticisms to Mann, Jones and Briffa. And when you pointed out the error I made about briffa's chart, I do believe I changed my mind based on what you wrote.