The Four Groups Of Conspiracy Theorists

by John Hawkins | December 29, 2008 6:08 am

From an email I received from a RWN reader who would prefer to remain anonymous,

Today was my first time actually visiting your site — it proved to be a source of solace. I’ll explain. There is, indeed, lots of anti-American sentiment on the internet. There’s NWO talk, U.S. /FEMA camps for red/blue list targets, etc. However, it doesn’t stop there. Even Hollywood (movies like Aeon Flux–though dismissed by many as an action vehicle helmed by a scantily-clad Charlize Theron–share visions of a bleak future in America where government usurps all liberties) has unleashed a flurry of political jabs.

…Basically, I just want to let you know I appreciate your site and, also, pick the brain of a rational person on this rising topic of America’s fate in the years to come. Particularly, the anti-government proponents and their agendas, besides the overt motive of rousing the masses. What else, I guess, on an ulterior level do they reap, or hope to reap from their actions?

…I’m outnumbered by workplace conspiracy theorists — I just want rational feedback,

I tend to lump conspiracy theorists into four groups — maybe there are more, maybe there are less, but from what I’ve seen, these four groups of people make up the overwhelming majority of the “Bush is behind 9/11, look out for the North American Union, the Jews run the media, Sarah Palin had her daughter’s baby, Illuminati, lizard people, New World Order, blah, blah, blah, wackity dackity doo” crowd.

First off, there is…

Group #1 — The Iffies: There are a lot of people who say that they believe some conspiracy theory — and maybe they do, but they have a very low level of confidence for their belief. Maybe they think there is a 51% chance some conspiracy is happening, but they’d also acknowledge that there is a 49% chance that it’s not happening. Because they’re unsure, they wouldn’t be willing to act on their belief.

This group (which makes up a majority of the conspiracy crowd) explains why a Rasmussen poll[1] found that “22% of all Americans and 35% of all Democrats believe that George Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance,” and yet there are no riots in the streets, assassination attempts, or revolutions in progress.

People believe all kinds of things — sort of — but are they sure enough of their beliefs to act? In the case of the Iffies, the answer is “no.”

Group #2 — The Non-Linear Thinkers: There are a lot of people who — because they’re too emotional, uneducated, have a mental blindspot, want to feel like they have special knowledge, can’t think clearly when it comes to certain people and groups, etc. — are unable to think logically. They’re simply incapable of going mentally from step-to-step and figuring out what would have to occur for a conspiracy theory to take place.

Does this mean they’re dumb, mushmouthed, idiots? Not at all. There are very intelligent, extremely eloquent people who fall into this category.

Group #3 — The Crazies: If the world doesn’t make sense to you in the first place, it makes more sense to believe in conspiracy theories. In other words, some people believe wacky things because they’re wacky people.

Group #4 — The Manipulators: Put simply, conspiracies draw eyeballs and there are a lot of people out there who are willing to peddle stories they absolutely know aren’t true to get attention. Their attitude is “True, false, whatever, if it gets me attention, I’ll push it.”

In my book, these people are by far the worst of the bunch because they deliberately mislead people, increase paranoia, and slander people and groups solely for the sake of promoting themselves.

Then, as a result of these people, you end up with tens or even hundreds of thousands of “Iffies” who believe in perfectly ludicrous things because someone they perceive as credible is trying to sell books or draw in some more traffic for his website.

Last but not least, I particularly dislike conspiracy theories on the Right for three reasons.

#1) They are almost never right. In fact, if you simply disagreed with every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike without considering it at all, you’d still be right 99.9% of the time.

#2) Because conspiracy theories are almost never right, they make the people who buy into them look foolish to people who know better. That credibility can be hard to regain.

#3) Conspiracy theories are an enormous waste of energy that could be better applied to real problems. If we could have harnessed all the brainpower that went into thinking up phony 9/11 theories and coming up with explanations for how the North American Union was supposed to work, we could have cured cancer by now.

  1. Rasmussen poll:

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