Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds

Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

Book - 2015
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We're all conspiracy theorists. Some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists do not wear tin-foil hats (for the most part). They are not just a few kooks lurking on the paranoid fringes of society with bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens running society in secret. They walk among us. They are us. Everyone loves a good conspiracy. Yet conspiracy theories are not a recent invention. And they are not always a harmless curiosity. In Suspicious Minds , Rob Brotherton explores the history and consequences of conspiracism, and delves into the research that offers insights into why so many of us are drawn to implausible, unproven and un-provable conspiracy theories. They resonate with some of our brain's built-in quirks and foibles, and tap into some of our deepest desires, fears, and assumptions about the world.

The fascinating and often surprising psychology of conspiracy theories tells us a lot--not just why we are drawn to theories about sinister schemes, but about how our minds are wired and, indeed, why we believe anything at all. Conspiracy theories are not some psychological aberration--they're a predictable product of how brains work. This book will tell you why, and what it means. Of course, just because your brain's biased doesn't always mean you're wrong. Sometimes conspiracies are real. Sometimes, paranoia is prudent.

Publisher: New York, NY : Bloomsbury Sigma, 2015
ISBN: 9781472915610
1472915615
Branch Call Number: 153.4 BROTHERTON
Characteristics: 304 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

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a
AaronAardvark1940
Oct 25, 2016

Loved this book. A very careful analysis of the processes by which we construct our view of the world, addressing the various innate biases we cannot control. Scientific studies, with sometimes light-hearted commentary.

c
callig
Jun 06, 2016

Why read bilge like "The DaVinci Code' when you can read something as exciting like this, and learn a lot about your own brain in the process?
This is 5 star stuff, as other reviewers [save the unfortunate stargladiator with the damaged amyglada] say.
Proportionality bias was indeed an eye-opener, as was intentionality bias.
I also loved the page on basic fiction plots- turns out there are 7 to 20 such. "The Seven Basic Plots" sounds like a terrific read.
I did think that Brothereton underrated a simple primary cause- manipulating from shadows, lying, is an effective and safe way to steal [power, money etc.].
All the recent whistle-blowers surely prove there's LOTS to be paranoid about, not to mention the long history of the CIA [see Chomsky]. But this is a quibble- Brotherton's basic case is solid and well-delivered.
Read it!

p
paul1
Jan 31, 2016

An excellent summary of why all kinds of people (smart, dumb,educated, uneducated, right wing, left wing, etc.) see conspiracies in all manner of world events. I like the fact that Brotherton points out humans are pattern seeking animals that connect dots into patterns. Quite often these patterns are real but also the patterns can be illusions. Especially since confirmation bias skews our worldview that reinforces our beliefs. Counter-intuitively the more intelligent someone is the more likely they are to fall for conspiracy theories. What was eye-opening was the study proving that people have a "proportionality bias". That means big events must have big causes (like if I want a high score on a dice roll, I'll throw it harder pg.209). So if a president is killed it can't be due to a single guy with a gun, it has to be due to a powerful shady cabal. Also he shows how it is nigh-impossible for a conspiracy theorist to see that their pet conspiracy is full of holes and they go through convoluted thinking to rationalize their beliefs (ie, anti-vaccinationists think the lack of evidence between autism and vaccines is not because there is no link but due to a Big-pharma cover-up).

s
StarGladiator
Nov 27, 2015

I am unfamiliar with this fellow's background, so I'll have to do a deep search on his financial history and addenda. Any nimrod still suggesting the Official Conspiracy Theory - - called the Warren Commission Report - - from psychos Allen Dulles and John McCloy [both of whom got off monstrous butchers from Hitler's Third Reich when they were past employees of I.G. Farben, et cetera] - - is solid is seriously dishonest and demented. The facts are now all out.
Instead I will challenge this fake on the background of the heroic actions of former Pfc. Eugene B. Dinkin, one of those who came forward, and naturally had his life destroyed in the process.
[Clowns like this, and so many seem to be British, told us that the CIA overthrow of the Iranian president was conspiracy theory, and declassified documents proved them WRONG; that the CIA overthrow of the Sukarno government of Indonesia was conspiracy theory, and the declassified docs proved them wrong; that the CIA overthrow of Salvador Allende of Chile was conspiracy theory, and declassified docs proved them WRONG!] There's some former CIA type going on the talk circuit, Jack Devine, involved with the murders of Chileans and Salvador Allende, who still claims America and the CIA had nothing to do with it, EVEN after the release of those classified docs!!!

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paul1
Jan 31, 2016

"This is how confirmation bias sets in. Merely finding evidence that appears to fit our preconceptions doesn't always mean we're right, but if we don't check for evidence that we're wrong, we have no reason to question our beliefs." pg.225

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paul1
Jan 31, 2016

"My hope is that we might scrutizine our intuition, ask ourselves why we think what we think. Are we being prudently paranoid? Or are our biases getting the best of us?" pg.243

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