Susceptibility for conspiracy theories

In a previous article I gave some definitions of conspiracy theories and reported about their pervasiveness, in this article I review some social-psychological papers on conspiracy ideation.

Lacking control in day to day life causes fear

The desire to combat uncertainty and maintain control has long been considered a primary and fundamental motivating force in human life and one of the most important variables governing psychological well-being and physical health. For example learning details and training about a painful medical procedure can reduce anxiety and even lead to shorter recovery time.

In contrast, lacking control is an unsettling and aversive state, activating the amygdale, which indicates a fear response. It is not surprising, then, that individuals actively try to re-establish control when it disappears or is taken away.

Jennifer A. Whitson and Adam D. Galinsky show in their paper ‘Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception’ that participants who lacked control were more likely to perceive a variety of illusory patterns, including seeing images in noise, forming illusory correlations in stock market information, perceiving conspiracies, and developing superstitions.

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Conspiracy theories… a long history and a new trend

Conspiracy theories in retrospective

Claims that rich capitalists are no longer out to make a profit, but to create a one-world government go back many decades now and it is always said that it is really going to happen this time, but it never does.

Since these claims have proved wrong dozens of times by now, it makes more sense to assume that leaders act for their usual reasons, such as profit-seeking motives and institutionalized roles as elected officials. Of course they want to make as much money as they can and that can lead them to do many unsavoury things. Revolving door policy, demagogy, manipulation and corruption must be denounced, but not be buried in intangible myths and conspiracy legends.

Dorling refers to sociologist Zygmund Bauman for a refutation of conspiricism. Look here for a video of Zygmund Bauman explaining his view on conspiracy theories. Both claim that there is not and never has been conspiracy of the rich:

“There has not been any great, well-orchestrated conspiracy of the rich to support the endurance of inequality, just a few schools of free-market thought, a few think tanks preaching stories about how efficient free market mechanisms are, how we must allow the few ‘tall poppies’ to grow and suggesting that a minority of ‘wealth creators’ exist and it is they who somehow ‘create’ wealth.”

“That there is no great conspiracy was first realised in the aftermath of the First World War, when it became clear that no one ‘… planned for this sort of an abattoir, for a mutual massacre four years long’ (Bauman 2008: 6). The men they called the ‘donkeys’, the generals, planned for a short, sharp, war.”

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Belgian Guantamo

The functioning  if the INADs centre 127ter in Steenokkerzeel,   replacing 127bis is detailed in  Charlotte Lebbe Masterthesis: “De terugkeer van de grenzen. Een biopolitieke blik op Fort Europa”. It was rewarded with the ‘Karel Verleye Price’ but is kept out of the public eye.

Her research is one of the rare scientific inquiries into the practices of the guards of the affluent society. The architect who drew the originals of the new centre and delivered them to Charlotte Lebbe for scanning required her to sign a contract before allowing her to scan the plans. This contract mentioned  that the copies of the plans could not be published  under any circumstances. Why is it hidden?

Inadmissible refugees, when stopped at the border, are incarcerated in the new centre close to the airport of Zaventem, on international enclave territory,  even before they can request asylum. So they never enter Europe in a legal sense and can be returned without notice.

But also those that succeed to enter Europe are mostly refused asylum. Only 21,4% of asylumseekers were granted shelter in Belgium in 2010, the remaining all receive a command to leave the territory? They are hidden for the public  in 127ter before they are forced on an airplane for deportation .

The result Lebbe’s research draws parallels between the inhumane  situation at <a href=”The result Lebbe’s research draws parallels between the inhumane  situation at Ceuta and Melilla, the only land border between Africa and Europe and Steenokkerzeel. In this posting you can find a sketch of the Ceuta and Melilla fences in Fig. 4.” target=”_blank”>Ceuta and Melilla, the only land border between Africa and Europe and Steenokkerzeel. In this posting you can find a sketch of the Ceuta and Melilla fences in Fig. 4.

The new building is structured like a panopticon. The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience (source: Wikipedia).

In her thesis Charlotte points plenty of times to Didier Bigo, who pictures the whole situation as a Ban-opticon,  guarding watching and making invisible those that are banned while remaining invisible as guards. The idea is also that one can be inhumane as long as nobody notices it.

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