How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!
— Samuel Adams
Archon (Greek: ἄρχων, romanized: árchōn) is the Greek term for “ruler”. Cognate derivatives are, e.g., terms such as:
anarchy (etymology discussed subsequently in more detail)
According to Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians (78-c. 100), the power and influence of the king first devolved to the archons, and these offices were filled from the aristocracy by elections on a decennial basis. Archon Eponymos was the primary magistrate, the Polemarch referred to the head of the armed forces, and the Archon Basileus was in charge of the religious aspects of society.
Various fraternities and sororities use the title of archon or variations on it. Some Gnostic sects used this term for demons associated with the planetspheres.
3-D computer rendering of an “archon”
The term anarchy is the negation of the term archon (i.e., the negatory prefix *a). It thus means “without a ruler/master”, i.e., human beings that do not accept a master and who do not allow others to rule over them (they are not slaves to anyone). Importantly, this derivation should not be confused with “chaos or without rules”. Anarchy simply is the negation of slavery.
Niemand ist mehr Sklave, als der sich für frei hält, ohne es zu sein. ‘
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Transl.: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.)
Human beings who are anarchists are thus literally beings that do not accept to be ruled by archons, i.e., they are free and cannot be ruled and suppressed by external forces (they only subordinate themselves to natural law, viz., the timeless universal metaphysical foundation of morality and ethics; cf. the Kantian categorical imperative).
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
— Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)
In this context a quotation by the freedom fighter Malcolm X is of great pertinence.
He asked the following quintessential question concerning the highest of all virtues:
What is the price of freedom?
P.S. This does not imply that one has to die to be free, but it means that one has to be willing to risk once own life for the greatest of all goods, viz., the ultimate expression of human potential: Absolute Freedom.
If one is not willing to go “all in” one has lost the quest for freedom a priori because one is not willing to risk what it takes to achieve it. Fear is the inhibitor of freedom. Death is the mother of all fears. Ergo, overcoming the irrational fear of death is a condicio sine qua non for the obtainment of superordinate transcendental values.
Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Freedom comes with wisdom, intrinsically. They are inseparable, and no society wants people to be free. The communist society, the fascist society, the capitalist society, the Hindu, the Mohammedan, the Christian – no society likes people to use their own intelligence because the moment they start using their intelligence they become dangerous – dangerous to the establishment, dangerous to the people who are in power, dangerous to the “haves”; dangerous to all kinds of oppression, exploitation, suppression; dangerous to the churches, dangerous to the states, dangerous to the nations.
In fact, a wise man is afire, alive, aflame. He would like rather to die than to be enslaved. Death will not matter much to him, but he cannot sell his life to all kinds of stupidities, to all kinds of stupid people. He cannot serve them. Hence, the societies down the ages have been supplying you with false knowing. That’s the very function of your schools, colleges, universities.
They don’t serve you, remember, they serve the past, they serve the vested interests. Of course, they go on puffing your ego up bigger and bigger, they go on giving you more and more degrees. Your name becomes longer and longer, but only the name – you go on becoming shorter and shorter. A point comes where there are only certificates and the man has disappeared. First the man carries the certificates, then the certificates carry the man. The man is long dead.
“F the metaphorical understanding of a situation functions in two parts irst, there is a widespread, relatively fixed set of metaphors that structure how fc we think. for example, a decision to go to war might be seen as a form o ost-benefit analysis, where war is justified …”
Steuter, E., & Wills, D.. (2008). At war with metaphor. Nueva York: Rowman and …
“BACKGROUND:pedomorphism is the retention of ancestrally juvenile traits by adults in a descendant taxon. despite its importance for evolutionary change, there are few examples of a molecular basis for this phenomenon. notothenioids represent one of the best described species flocks among marine fishes, but their diversity is currently threatened by the rapidly changing antarctic climate. notothenioid evolutionary history is characterized by parallel radiations from a benthic ancestor to pelagic predators, which was accompanied by the appearance of several pedomorphic traits, including the reduction of skeletal mineralization that resulted in increased buoyancy.results:we compared craniofacial skeletal development in two pelagic notothenioids, chaenocephalus aceratus and pleuragramma antarcticum, to that in a benthic species, notothenia coriiceps, and two outgroups, the threespine stickleback and the zebrafish. relative to these other species, pelagic notothenioids exhibited a delay in pharyngeal bone development, which was associated with discrete heterochronic shifts in skeletal gene expression that were consistent with persistence of the chondrogenic program and a delay in the osteogenic program during larval development. morphological analysis also revealed a bias toward the development of anterior and ventral elements of the notothenioid pharyngeal skeleton relative to dorsal and posterior elements.conclusions:our data support the hypothesis that early shifts in the relative timing of craniofacial skeletal gene expression may have had a significant impact on the adaptive radiation of antarctic notothenioids into pelagic habitats.”
Thibodeau, P. H., Hendricks, R. K., & Boroditsky, L.. (2017). How Linguistic Metaphor Scaffolds Reasoning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences
“Language helps people communicate and think. precise and accurate language would seem best suited to achieve these goals. but a close look at the way people actually talk reveals an abundance of apparent imprecision in the form of metaphor: ideas are ‘light bulbs’, crime is a ‘virus’, and cancer is an ‘enemy’ in a ‘war’. in this article, we review recent evidence that metaphoric language can facilitate communication and shape thinking even though it is literally false. we first discuss recent experiments showing that linguistic metaphor can guide thought and behavior. then we explore the conditions under which metaphors are most influential. throughout, we highlight theoretical and practical implications, as well as key challenges and opportunities for future research. metaphors pervade discussions of abstract concepts and complex issues: ideas are ‘light bulbs’, crime is a ‘virus’, and cancer is an ‘enemy’ in a ‘war’. at a process level, metaphors, like analogies, involve structure mapping, in which relational structure from the source domain is leveraged for thinking about the target domain. metaphors influence how people think about the topics they describe by shaping how people attend to, remember, and process information. the effects of metaphor on reasoning are not simply the result of lexical priming. metaphors can covertly influence how people think. that is, people are not always aware that they have been influenced by a metaphor.”
Hülsse, R., & Spencer, A.. (2008). The metaphor of terror: Terrorism studies and the constructivist turn. Security Dialogue
“Terrorism studies is fascinated with the terrorist actor. though this may seem natural, the present article argues that a different perspective can be fruitful. from a constructivist point of view, terrorism is a social construction. the terrorist actor is a product of discourse, and hence discourse is the logical starting point for terrorism research. in particular, it is the discourse of the terrorists’ adversaries that constitutes terrorist motivations, strategies, organizational structures and goals. hence, the article suggests a shift of perspective in terrorism studies – from an actor-centred to a discourse-centred perspective. it develops a discourse approach that emphasizes the crucial role of metaphors in the making of reality. to illustrate this approach, the metaphorical construction of al-qaeda in the german popular press in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in new york and washington ( 2001), madrid ( 2004) and london ( 2005) is analysed. terrorism was first constituted as war, but from 2004 onwards the principal metaphor shifted from war to crime, constructing al-qaeda as a criminal rather than a military organization. this shift has transformed al-qaeda from an external to an internal threat, which has entailed a shift in counter-terrorism practices from a military to a judicial response.”
Ferrari, F.. (2007). Metaphor at work in the analysis of political discourse: Investigating a “preventive war” persuasion strategy. Discourse and Society
“The crucial historical moment represented by post 9/11 may undoubtedly be considered responsible for the subsequent hardening of american political rhetoric. and yet, the sudden increase of consensus catalysed by george w. bush and the consequences of his international policy bring his modus persuadendi up for discussion. the aim of this article is to present a framework for a metaphor-based critical analysis of persuasion in political discourse. our object of observation is george w. bush’s public speeches to the nation (2001–4). more specifically, the analysis is focused on the persuasion strategy enacted to promote the preventive war in iraq. in our approach, conceptual metaphor as related to emotion constitutes the fundamental argumentative feature and crucial tool to address the matter of persuasion in text, contributing to identifying both the ideological root and the persuasive strategy of a given discourse in the long run. synthesis of our results shows the potentialities of metaphor as a privileged cognitive tool for abstracting and constructing discourse strategies.”
Thibodeau, P., Mcclelland, J. L., & Boroditsky, L.. (2009). When a bad metaphor may not be a victimless crime : The role of metaphor in social policy. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
“Metaphors are pervasive in our discussions of abstract and complex ideas (lakoff & johnson, 1980), and have been shown to be instrumental in problem solving and building new conceptual structure (e.g., gentner & gentner, 1983; nersessian, 1992; boroditsky, 2000). in this paper we look at the role of metaphor in framing social issues. our language for discussing war, crime, politics, healthcare, and the economy is suffused with metaphor (schön, 1993; lakoff, 2002). does the way we reason about such important issues as crime, war or the economy depend on the metaphors we use to talk about these topics? might changing metaphors lead us to different conceptions and in turn different social policies? in this paper we focused on the domain of crime and asked whether two different metaphorical systems we have for talking about crime can lead people to different ways of approaching and reasoning about it. we find that framing the issue of crime metaphorically as a predator yielded systematically different suggestions for solving the crime problem than when crime was described as a virus. we then present a connectionist model that explores the mechanistic underpinnings of the role of metaphor.”
Spencer, A.. (2012). The social construction of terrorism: Media, metaphors and policy implications. Journal of International Relations and Development
“The article illustrates a constructivist understanding of studying terrorism and counter-terrorism by applying metaphor analysis to a british tabloid media discourse on terrorism between 2001 and 2005 in the sun newspaper. it identifies four conceptual metaphors constituting terrorism as a war, a crime, an uncivilised evil and as a disease, and it illustrates how these understandings make certain counter-terrorism policies such as a military response, judicial measures or immigration policies acceptable while at the same time excluding from consideration other options, such as negotiations. it thereby re-emphasises that a metaphorical understanding of political phenomena such as terrorism can give international relations insights into how certain policies become possible while others remain outside of the range of options thought to be appropriate.”
At war with metaphor: media, propaganda, and racism in the war on terror. (2013). Choice Reviews Online
“A valuable contribution to our growing understanding of the ways in which we talk ourselves into war, genocide, and other crimes against humanity. it causes us to wonder what might happen if we had the courage to deal with our rivalries and conflicts in a realistic manner rather than dehumanizing and demonizing those we consider enemies. ” —sam keen, author of faces of the enemy when photographs documenting the torture and humiliation of prisoners at abu ghraib came to the attention of a horrified public, national and international voices were raised in shock, asking how this happened. at war with metaphor offers an answer, arguing that the abuses of abu ghraib were part of a systemic continuum of dehumanization. this continuum has its roots in our public discussions of the war on terror and the metaphors through which they are repeatedly framed. arguing earnestly and incisively that these metaphors, if left unexamined, bind us into a cycle of violence that will only be intensified by a responsive violence of metaphor, erin steuter and deborah wills examine compelling examples of the images of animal, insect, and disease that inform, shape, and limit our understand-ing of the war on terror. tying these images to historical and contemporary uses of propaganda through a readable, accessible analysis of media filters, at war with metaphor vividly explores how news media, including political cartoons and talk radio, are enmeshed in these damaging, dehumanizing metaphors. analyzing media through the lenses of race and orientalism, the book invites us to hold our media and ourselves accountable for the choices we make in talking war and making enemies.”
Kövecses, Z.. (2016). Conceptual metaphor theory. In The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language
“In a radical departure from theories based on digital, amodal accounts of cognition and language, lakoff and johnson (1980) proposed an account of metaphor as fundamentally conceptual, arguing that familiar linguistic metaphors are but surface manifestations of underlying conceptual relationships. they claimed that most conceptual thought is metaphorical, and conceptual domains are instantiated and expressed in families of conceptual metaphors, such as ‘more is u’, ‘emotionallyintimate is physically close’, ‘argument is war’, ‘love is a journey’, and ‘theories are buildings’. these conceptual metaphors number in the hundreds (gibbs, 1994b; lakoff and johnson, 1999), and they combine to serve as the foundation for new metaphors. for many of these families of metaphors lakoff and johnson trace the underlying metaphor to a literal concept based on embodied physical experience.”
Navaro-Yashin, Y.. (2009). Affective spaces, melancholic objects: Ruination and the production of anthropological knowledge. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“This article critically engages with recent theoretical writings on affect and non-human agency by way of studying the emotive energies discharged by properties and objects appropriated during war from members of the so-called ‘enemy’ community. the ethnographic material comes from long-term fieldwork in northern cyprus, focusing on how it feels to live with the objects and within the ruins left behind by the other, now displaced, community. i study turkish-cypriots’ relations to houses, land, and objects that they appropriated from the greek-cypriots during the war of 1974 and the subsequent partition of cyprus. my ethnographic material leads me to reflect critically on the object-centred philosophy of actor network theory and on the affective turn in the human sciences after the work of gilles deleuze. with the metaphor of ‘ruination’, i study what goes amiss in scholarly declarations of theoretical turns or shifts. instead, proposing an anthropologically engaged theory of affect through an ethnographic reflection on spatial and material melancholia, i argue that ethnography, in its most productive moments, is trans-paradigmatic. retaining what has been ruined as still needful of consideration, i suggest an approach which merges theories of affect and subjectivity as well as of language and materiality.”
Koller, V., Hardie, A., Rayson, P., & Semino, E.. (2008). Using a semantic annotation tool for the analysis of metaphor in discourse. Metaphorik.De
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“This paper describes the application of semantic annotation software for analysing metaphor in corpora of different genres. in particular, we outline three projects analysing religion and politics metaphors in corporate mission statements, the war metaphor in business magazines, and machine and living organism metaphors in a novel and in a second collection of business magazine articles. this research was guided by the hypotheses that a) semantic tags allocated by the software can correspond to source domains of metaphoric expressions, and b) that more conventional metaphors feature a source domain tag as first choice in the type’s semantic profile. the tagger was adapted to better serve the needs of metaphor research and automate to a greater extent the extraction of first choice and secondary semantic domains. two of the three studies represent re-analyses of previous manual and/or lexical corpus-based investigations, and findings indicate that semantic annotation can yield more comprehensive results. in”
Yanık, L. K.. (2009). The Metamorphosis of Metaphors of Vision: “Bridging” Turkey’s Location, Role and Identity After the End of the Cold War. Geopolitics
“During the cold war, ‘buffer’ or ‘bastion’ seemed a popular metaphor to describe turkey. after the cold war, ‘bridge,’ (and, to some extent, the ‘crossroad’) metaphor started to dominate the turkish foreign policy dışcourse. this article traces the use of ‘bridge’ metaphor in this dışcourse in the post-cold war period by the turkish foreign policy elite. it develops two arguments. first, the word bridge is a ‘metaphor of vision’ combining turkey’s perceived geographical exceptionalism with an identity and a role at the international level. as a ‘metaphor of vision,’ the employment of the word ‘bridge’ highlighted turkey’s liminality and justified some of its foreign policy actions to eurasia and then to the middle east. second, because the bridge metaphor was used in different context to justify different foreign policy choices, its meaning has changed, illustrating that metaphors are not static constructs. it concludes by sayıng that the continuous use of ‘bridge’ metaphor might reinforce turkey’s ‘liminality,’ placing turkey in a less classifiable category than the regular ‘othering’ practices.”
The conspiracy theory meme as a tool of cultural hegemony: A critical discourse analysis
by Rankin, James Edwin, Jr., Ph.D.
Those rejecting the official accounts of significant suspicious and impactful events are often labeled conspiracy theorists and the alternative explanations they propose are often referred to as conspiracy theories. These labels are often used to dismiss the beliefs of those individuals who question potentially hegemonic control of what people believe. The conspiracy theory concept functions as an impediment to legitimate discursive examination of conspiracy suspicions. The effect of the label appears to constrain even the most respected thinkers. This impediment is particularly problematic in academia, where thorough, objective analysis of information is critical to uncovering truth, and where members of the academy are typically considered among the most important of epistemic authorities. This dissertation tracked the development and use of such terms as pejoratives used to shut down critical thinking, analysis, and challenges to authority. This was accomplished using critical discourse analysis as a research methodology. Evidence suggesting government agents were instrumental in creating the pejorative meme conspiracy theorist was found in contemporary media. Tracing the evolution of the conspiracy theory meme and its use as a pejorative silencer may heighten awareness of its use in this manner and diminish its impact.
The term “conspiracy theory” was invented and put into public discourse by the CIA in 1964 in order to discredit the many skeptics who challenged the Warren Commission’s conclusion that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself was assassinated while in police custody before he could be questioned. The CIA used its friends in the media to launch a campaign to make suspicion of the Warren Commission report a target of ridicule and hostility. This campaign was “one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.”
This writes political science professor Lance deHaven-Smith, in his peer-reviewed book which was published by the University of Texas Press. He reports the story of how the CIA succeeded in creating in the public mind uncritical, reflexive, automatic, (System 1) stigmatization of those who challenge official government explanations (cf. ostracism).
According to Prof. DeHaven (see lecture above) the term “conspiracy theory” was first used in a scholarly book around 1913 by Charles Beard who used the phrase “the conspiracy theory of the 14th amendment”. DeHaven argues that if a wealthy women died because she fell in the shower and her husband inherits all her money we are automatically suspicious because of the low probability (base rate) of the incidence. If a similar situation happens again and the same husband is involved we are obviously even more suspicious. However, the term “conspiracy theory” prevents rational discourse (and rational thinking). DeHaven suggests the term “state crimes against democracy”. He makes the point that if we do not have a word for a crime it is very difficult to discuss it, especially if argumentators are discredited and ostracized as “conspiracy theorists” and categorized next to flat-earth believers (viz. invalid associations are created to facilitate superficial social categorisation).
Peer reviewed references on conspiracy theories – State crimes against democracy (multiple conspiracies are “organized crime”)
Elman, J. L.. (1999). Origins of language: A conspiracy theory. The Emergence of Language
“The paper presents a very interesting account of ways to be innate. in particular, the author addresses the question of chronotopic innateness, showing that children are not necessarily equiped with a ug or similar device, but are aided in their language acquisition process by the restrictions on the perception and memory capacities.”
“Over one-quarter of all federal criminal prosecutions and a large number of state cases involve prosecutions for conspiracy. yet, the major scholarly articles and the bulk of prominent jurists have roundly condemned the doctrine. this article offers a functional justification for the legal prohibition against conspiracy, centering on psychological and economic accounts. advances in psychology over the past thirty years have demonstrated that groups cultivate a special social identity. this identity often encourages risky behavior, leads individuals to behave against their self-interest, solidifies loyalty, and facilitates harm against non-members. so, too, economists have developed sophisticated explanations for why firms promote efficiency, leading to new theories in corporate law. these insights can be ‘reverse-engineered’ to make conspiracies operate less efficiently. in reverse-engineering corporate-law principles and introducing lessons from psychology, a rich account of how government should approach conspiracy begins to unfold. in particular, law enforcement strives to prevent conspiracies from forming by imposing high up-front penalties for joiners but uses mechanisms to harvest information from those who have joined and decide to cooperate with the government. traditional conspiracy doctrines such as pinkerton liability and the exclusion from merger not only further cooperation agreements, they also make conspiracies more difficult to create and maintain by forcing them to adopt bundles of inefficient practices. the possibility of defection forces the syndicate to use expensive monitoring of its employees for evidence of possible collusion with the government. mechanisms for defection also break down trust within the group and prime members to think that others are acting out of self-interest. the article concludes by offering a variety of refinements to conspiracy law that will help destabilize trust within the conspiracy, cue the defection of conspirators, and permit law enforcement to extract more information from them.”
Miller, J. M., Saunders, K. L., & Farhart, C. E.. (2016). Conspiracy Endorsement as Motivated Reasoning: The Moderating Roles of Political Knowledge and Trust. American Journal of Political Science
“Given the potential political and social significance of conspiracy beliefs, a substantial and growing body of work examines the individual-level correlates of belief in conspiracy theories and general conspiratorial predispositions. however, although we know much about the psychological antecedents of conspiracy endorsement, we know less about the individual-level political causes of these prevalent and consequential beliefs. our work draws from the extant literature to posit that endorsement of conspiracy theories is a motivated process that serves both ideological and psychological needs. in doing so,we develop a theory that identifies a particular type of person—onewho is both highly knowledgeable about politics and lacking in trust—who ismost susceptible to ideologicallymotivated conspiracy endorsement. further, we demonstrate that the moderators of belief in conspiracy theories are strikingly different for conservatives and liberals.”
Swami, V., Coles, R., Stieger, S., Pietschnig, J., Furnham, A., Rehim, S., & Voracek, M.. (2011). Conspiracist ideation in Britain and Austria: Evidence of a monological belief system and associations between individual psychological differences and real-world and fictitious conspiracy theories. British Journal of Psychology
“Despite evidence of widespread belief in conspiracy theories, there remains a dearth of research on the individual difference correlates of conspiracist ideation. in two studies, we sought to overcome this limitation by examining correlations between conspiracist ideation and a range of individual psychological factors. in study 1, 817 britons indicated their agreement with conspiracist ideation concerning the july 7, 2005 (7/7), london bombings, and completed a battery of individual difference scales. results showed that stronger belief in 7/7 conspiracy theories was predicted by stronger belief in other real-world conspiracy theories, greater exposure to conspiracist ideation, higher political cynicism, greater support for democratic principles, more negative attitudes to authority, lower self-esteem, and lower agreeableness. in study 2, 281 austrians indicated their agreement with an entirely fictitious conspiracy theory and completed a battery of individual difference measures not examined in study 1. results showed that belief in the entirely fictitious conspiracy theory was significantly associated with stronger belief in other real-world conspiracy theories, stronger paranormal beliefs, and lower crystallized intelligence. these results are discussed in terms of the potential of identifying individual difference constellations among conspiracy theorists.”
Darwin, H., Neave, N., & Holmes, J.. (2011). Belief in conspiracy theories. The role of paranormal belief, paranoid ideation and schizotypy. Personality and Individual Differences
“Two studies examined correlates of belief in a jewish conspiracy theory among malays in malaysia, a culture in which state-directed conspiracism as a means of dealing with perceived external and internal threats is widespread. in study 1, 368 participants from kuala lumpur, malaysia, completed a novel measure of belief in a jewish conspiracy theory, along with measures of general conspiracist ideation, and anomie. initial analysis showed that the novel scale factorially reduced to a single dimension. further analysis showed that belief in the jewish conspiracy theory was only significantly associated with general conspiracist ideation, but the strength of the association was weak. in study 2, 314 participants completed the measure of belief in the jewish conspiracy theory, along with measures of general conspiracist ideation, and ideological attitudes. results showed that belief in the jewish conspiracy theory was associated with anti-israeli attitudes, modern racism directed at the chinese, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation. general conspiracist ideation did not emerge as a significant predictor once other variables had been accounted for. these results suggest that there may be specific cultural and social psychological forces that drive belief in the jewish conspiracy theory within the malaysian context. specifically, belief in the jewish conspiracy theory among malaysian malays appears to serve ideological needs and as a mask for anti-chinese sentiment, which may in turn reaffirm their perceived ability to shape socio-political processes.”
Wood, M. J., & Douglas, K. M.. (2013). What about building 7?” A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Frontiers in Psychology
“Recent research into the psychology of conspiracy belief has highlighted the importance of belief systems in the acceptance or rejection of conspiracy theories. we examined a large sample of conspiracist (pro-conspiracy-theory) and conventionalist (anti-conspiracy-theory) comments on news websites in order to investigate the relative importance of promoting alternative explanations vs. rejecting conventional explanations for events. in accordance with our hypotheses, we found that conspiracist commenters were more likely to argue against the opposing interpretation and less likely to argue in favor of their own interpretation, while the opposite was true of conventionalist commenters. however, conspiracist comments were more likely to explicitly put forward an account than conventionalist comments were. in addition, conspiracists were more likely to express mistrust and made more positive and fewer negative references to other conspiracy theories. the data also indicate that conspiracists were largely unwilling to apply the ‘conspiracy theory’ label to their own beliefs and objected when others did so, lending support to the long-held suggestion that conspiracy belief carries a social stigma. finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. these tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations.”
Newheiser, A. K., Farias, M., & Tausch, N.. (2011). The functional nature of conspiracy beliefs: Examining the underpinnings of belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy. Personality and Individual Differences
“This paper assessed whether belief in conspiracy theories was associated with a particularly cognitive style (worldview). the sample comprised 223 volunteers recruited via convenience sampling and included undergraduates, postgraduates, university employees, and alumni. respondents completed measures assessing a range of cognitive-perceptual factors (schizotypy, delusional ideation, and hallucination proneness) and conspiratorial beliefs (general attitudes toward conspiracist thinking and endorsement of individual conspiracies). positive symptoms of schizotypy, particularly the cognitive-perceptual factor, correlated positively with conspiracist beliefs. the best predictor of belief in conspiracies was delusional ideation. consistent with the notion of a coherent conspiratorial mindset, scores across conspiracy measures correlated strongly. whilst findings supported the view that belief in conspiracies, within the sub-clinical population, was associated with a delusional thinking style, cognitive-perceptual factors in combination accounted for only 32% of the variance.”
Xu, Z., Pothula, S. P., Wilson, J. S., & Apte, M. V.. (2014). Pancreatic cancer and its stroma: A conspiracy theory. World Journal of Gastroenterology
“Pancreatic cancer is characterised by a prominent desmoplastic/stromal reaction that has received little attention until recent times. given that treatments focusing on pancreatic cancer cells alone have failed to significantly improve patient outcome over many decades, research efforts have now moved to understanding the pathophysiology of the stromal reaction and its role in cancer progression. in this regard, our group was the first to identify the cells (pancreatic stellate cells, pscs) that produced the collagenous stroma of pancreatic cancer and to demonstrate that these cells interacted closely with cancer cells to facilitate local tumour growth and distant metastasis. evidence is accumulating to indicate that stromal pscs may also mediate angiogenesis, immune evasion and the well known resistance of pancreatic cancer to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. this review will summarise current knowledge regarding the critical role of pancreatic stellate cells and the stroma in pancreatic cancer biology and the therapeutic approaches being developed to target the stroma in a bid to improve the outcome of this devastating disease.”
Geertz, C.. (1973). Thick Description: Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture. In The Interpretation of Cultures
“From: anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=symbolic%20and%20interpretive%20anthropologies thick description is a term geertz borrowed from gilbert ryle to describe and define the aim of interpretive anthropology. he argues that social anthropology is based on ethnography, or the study of culture. culture is based on the symbols that guide community behavior. symbols obtain meaning from the role which they play in the patterned behavior of social life. culture and behavior cannot be studied separately because they are intertwined. by analyzing the whole of culture as well as its constituent parts, one develops a ‘thick description’ which details the mental processes and reasoning of the natives thick description, however, is an interpretation of what the natives are thinking made by an outsider who cannot think like a nativebut is made possible by anthropological theory (geertz 1973d; see also tongs 1993). to illustrate thick description, geertz uses ryle’s example which discusses the difference between a ‘blink’ and a ‘wink.’ one, a blink, is an involuntary twitch –the thin description– and the other, a wink, is a conspiratorial signal to a friend–the thick description. while the physical movements involved in each are identical, each has a distinct meaning ‘as anyone unfortunate enough to have had the first taken for the second knows’ (geertz 1973d:6). a wink is a special form of communication which consists of several characteristics: it is deliberate; to someone in particular; to impart a particular message; according to a socially established code; and without the knowledge of the other members of the group of which the winker and winkee are a part. in addition, the wink can be a parody of someone else’s wink or an attempt to lead others to believe that a conspiracy of sorts is occuring. each type of wink can be considered to be a separate cultural category (geertz 1973d:6-7). the combination of the blink and the types of winks discussed above (and those that lie between them) produce ‘a stratified hierarchy of meaningful structures’ (geertz 1973d:7) in which winks and twitches are produced and interpreted. this, geertz argues, is the object of ethnography: to decipher this hierarchy of cultural categories. the thick description, therefore, is a description of the particular form of communication used, like a parody of someone else’s wink or a conspiratorial wink.”
Van der Linden, S.. (2015). The conspiracy-effect: Exposure to conspiracy theories (about global warming) decreases pro-social behavior and science acceptance. Personality and Individual Differences
“Although public endorsement of conspiracy theories is growing, the potentially negative societal consequences of widespread conspiracy ideation remain unclear. while past studies have mainly examined the personality correlates of conspiracy ideation, this study examines the conspiracy-effect; the extent to which exposure to an actual conspiracy theory influences pro-social and environmental decision-making. participants (n=316) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions; (a) a brief conspiracy video about global warming, (b) an inspirational pro-climate video or (c) a control group. results indicate that those participants who were exposed to the conspiracy video were significantly less likely to think that there is widespread scientific agreement on human-caused climate change, less likely to sign a petition to help reduce global warming and less likely to donate or volunteer for a charity in the next six months. these results strongly point to the socio-cognitive potency of conspiracies and highlight that exposure to popular conspiracy theories can have negative and undesirable societal consequences.”
Wood, M. J.. (2016). Some Dare Call It Conspiracy: Labeling Something a Conspiracy Theory Does Not Reduce Belief in It. Political Psychology
“‘Conspiracy theory’ is widely acknowledged to be a loaded term. politicians use it to mock and dismiss allegations against them, while philosophers and political scientists warn that it could be used as a rhetorical weapon to pathologize dissent. in two empirical studies conducted on amazon mechanical turk, i present an initial examination of whether this concern is justified. in experiment 1, 150 participants judged a list of historical and speculative theories to be no less likely when they were labeled ‘conspiracy theories’ than when they were labeled ‘ideas.’ in experiment 2 (n5802), participants who read a news article about fictitious ‘corruption allegations’ endorsed those allegations no more than participants who saw them labeled ‘conspiracy theories.’ the lack of an effect of the conspiracy-theory label in both experiments was unexpected and may be due to a romanticized image of conspiracy theories in popular media or a dilution of the term to include mundane speculation regarding corruption and political intrigue.”
Pratt, R.. (2003). Theorizing conspiracy. Theory and Society
“Anders behring breivik, perpetrator of the norwegian massacre, was motivated by a belief in a muslim conspiracy to take over europe. extreme and aberrant his actions were, but, explains the author, elements of this conspiracy theory are held and circulated in europe today across a broad political spectrum, with internet-focused counter-jihadist activists at one end and neoconservative and cultural conservative columnists, commentators and politicians at the other. the political fallout from the circulation of these ideas ranges from test cases over free speech in the courts to agitation on the ground from defence leagues, anti-minaret campaigners and stop islamisation groups. although the conspiracy draws on older forms of racism, it also incorporates new frameworks: the clash of civilisations, islamofascism, the new anti-semitism and eurabia. this muslim conspiracy bears many of the hallmarks of the ‘jewish conspiracy theory’, yet, ironically, its adherents, some of whom were formerly linked to anti-semitic traditions, have now, because of their fear of islam and arab countries, become staunch defenders of israel and zionism. reprinted by permission of the institute of race relations”
Raab, M. H., Ortlieb, S. A., Auer, N., Guthmann, K., & Carbon, C. C.. (2013). Thirty shades of truth: Conspiracy theories as stories of individuation, not of pathological delusion. Frontiers in Psychology
“Recent studies on conspiracy theories employ standardized questionnaires, thus neglecting their narrative qualities by reducing them to mere statements. recipients are considered as consumers only. two empirical studies-a conventional survey (n = 63) and a study using the method of narrative construction (n = 30)-which were recently conducted by the authors of this paper-suggest that the truth about conspiracy theories is more complex. given a set of statements about a dramatic historic event (in our case 9/11) that includes official testimonies, allegations to a conspiracy and extremely conspiratorial statements, the majority of participants created a narrative of 9/11 they deemed plausible that might be considered a conspiracy theory. the resulting 30 idiosyncratic stories imply that no clear distinction between official story and conspiratorial narrative is possible any more when the common approach of questionnaires is abandoned. based on these findings, we present a new theoretical and methodological approach which acknowledges conspiracy theories as a means of constructing and communicating a set of personal values. while broadening the view upon such theories, we stay compatible with other approaches that have focused on extreme theory types. in our view, accepting conspiracy theories as a common, regulative and possibly benign phenomenon, we will be better able to understand why some people cling to immunized, racist and off-wall stories-and others do not.”
Brotherton, R., French, C. C., & Pickering, A. D.. (2013). Measuring belief in conspiracy theories: The generic conspiracist beliefs scale. Frontiers in Psychology
“The psychology of conspiracy theory beliefs is not yet well understood, although research indicates that there are stable individual differences in conspiracist ideation – individuals’ general tendency to engage with conspiracy theories. researchers have created several short self-report measures of conspiracist ideation. these measures largely consist of items referring to an assortment of prominent conspiracy theories regarding specific real-world events. however, these instruments have not been psychometrically validated, and this assessment approach suffers from practical and theoretical limitations. therefore, we present the generic conspiracist beliefs (gcb) scale: a novel measure of individual differences in generic conspiracist ideation. the scale was developed and validated across four studies. in study 1, exploratory factor analysis of a novel 75-item measure of non-event-based conspiracist beliefs identified five conspiracist facets. the 15-item gcb scale was developed to sample from each of these themes. studies 2, 3, and 4 examined the structure and validity of the gcb, demonstrating internal reliability, content, criterion-related, convergent and discriminant validity, and good test-retest reliability. in sum, this research indicates that the gcb is a psychometrically sound and practically useful measure of conspiracist ideation, and the findings add to our theoretical understanding of conspiracist ideation as a monological belief system unpinned by a relatively small number of generic assumptions about the typicality of conspiratorial activity in the world.”
Butt, L.. (2005). “Lipstick Girls” and “Fallen Women”: AIDS and Conspiratorial Thinking in Papua, Indonesia. Cultural Anthropology
“A widespread theory in the province of papua, eastern indonesia, links the spread of sex workers and hiv/aids to a broader government conspiracy to eliminate indigenous papuans. explicit conspiratorial thinking by indigenous papuans draws from diverse evidence such as provincial partition legislation, patterns of sex-industry usage, economic transformations, rumors of witchcraft, and new automobile technology. this article argues against treating conspiracy theories about aids simply as symbolically powerful rumors expressing indigenous papuans’ perceptions of oppression and unequal access to state resources. rather, conspiracy theories articulate awareness of inconsistencies in the government’s formulation and administration of sexual regulations and aids-prevention policies. aids conspiracy theories can therefore be understood as pragmatic and detailed interpretations of papuan lived experiences in a context of ethnically disenfranchising forms of power in post-suharto indonesia.”
Briones, R., Nan, X., Madden, K., & Waks, L.. (2012). When Vaccines Go Viral: An Analysis of HPV Vaccine Coverage on YouTube. Health Communication
“This article reports a content analysis of youtube videos related to the human papillomavirus (hpv) vaccine. in total, 172 youtube videos were examined with respect to video sources, tones, and viewer responses. additionally, coverage of specific content was analyzed through the lens of the health belief model (rosenstock, 1974) and in terms of two content themes (i.e., conspiracy theory and civil liberties). the relations among these aspects of the videos were assessed as well. we found that most of these videos were news clips or consumer-generated content. the majority of the videos were negative in tone, disapproving of the hpv vaccine. in addition, negative videos were liked more by the viewers than positive or ambiguous ones. accusations of conspiracy theory and infringement of civil liberties were manifested in these videos. the videos also presented mixed information related to the key determinants of health behavior as stipulated in the health belief model. implications for the findings are discussed.”
Phillipson, R.. (2007). Linguistic imperialism: a conspiracy, or a conspiracy of silence?. Language Policy
“This is a response to bernard spolsky’s coverage of ‘how english spread’ in his book on language policy (2004) and his assertion that my book on linguistic imperialism (1992) subscribes to a conspiracy theory.”
Stojanov, A.. (2015). Reducing conspiracy theory beliefs. Psihologija
“This study aimed to look at possible ways to reduce beliefs in conspiracy theories and increase the intention to have a fictitious child vaccinated. one hundred and sixty participants answered an online questionnaire. three groups were used. the control group did not read any text prior to answering whereas the two experimental groups read either only debunking information or information about the motives of the conspiracists and the fallacy in their reasoning in addition to the debunking paragraph. the second experimental manipulation was effective in reducing medical conspiracy theories beliefs, but not belief in conspiracy theories in general. neither intervention was effective in increasing the likelihood to have a fictitious child vaccinated. those not intending to vaccinate a fictitious child endorsed conspiracy theories to a greater degree. a positive correlation between beliefs in conspiracy theories and the experiential/intuitive information processing system was found.”
Stempel, C., Hargrove, T., & Stempel, G. H.. (2007). Media use, social structure, and belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
“A survey of 1,010 randomly selected adults asked about media use and belief in three conspiracy theories about the attacks of september 11, 2001. ‘paranoid style’ and ‘cultural sociology’ theories are outlined, and empirical support is found for both. patterns vary somewhat by conspiracy theory, but members of less powerful groups (racial minorities, lower social class, women, younger ages) are more likely to believe at least one of the conspiracies, as are those with low levels of media involvement and consumers of less legitimate media (blogs and grocery store tabloids). consumers of legitimate media (daily newspapers and network tv news) are less likely to believe at least one of the conspiracies, although these relationships are not significant after controlling for social structural variables. beliefs in all three conspiracies are aligned with mainstream political party divisions, evidence that conspiracy thinking is now a normal part of mainstream political conflict in the united states. publication abstract]”
Craft, S., Ashley, S., & Maksl, A.. (2017). News media literacy and conspiracy theory endorsement. Communication and the Public
“Conspiracy theories flourish in the wide-open media of the digital age, spurring concerns about the role of misinformation in influencing public opinion and election outcomes. this study examines whether news media literacy predicts the likelihood of endorsing conspiracy theories and also considers the impact of literacy on partisanship. a survey of 397 adults found that greater knowledge about the news media predicted a lower likelihood of conspiracy theory endorsement, even for conspiracy theories that aligned with their political ideology.”
Gardener, T., & Moffat, J.. (2008). Changing behaviours in defence acquisition: A game theory approach. Journal of the Operational Research Society
“Why do so many major defence contracts fail to deliver to the contractually agreed performance, time and cost requirements? this paper identifies the conspiracy of optimism as an important factor in the initiation of many projects. using a combination of game theory and participatory workshops, we formulate a theory on the conspiracy of optimism and test it experimentally. this work forms part of a culture and behaviour change initiative within defence acquisition involving the ministry of defence and many defence contractors. [publication abstract]”
Sharp, D.. (2008). Advances in conspiracy theory. The Lancet
“CONTEXT: headache is a common, disabling disorder that is frequently not well managed in general clinical practice. objective: to determine if patients cared for in a coordinated headache management program would achieve reduced headache disability compared with patients in usual care. design: a randomized controlled trial of headache management vs usual care. setting: three distinctly different practice sites: an academic internal medicine practice located in a major east coast city, a staff-model managed care organization located in a major west coast city, and a community practice in a medium-sized city in the southeast. patients.- individuals 21 years of age or older with chronic tension-type, migraine, or mixed etiology headache and a migraine disability assessment (midas) score greater than 5, not receiving treatment from a neurologist or headache clinic currently or within the previous 6 months and with an intention to continue general medical care at their current location and to continue their present health insurance coverage for the next 12 months. interventions: active intervention is a headache management program consisting of: (1) a class specifically designed to inform patients about headache types, triggers, and treatment options; (2) diagnosis and treatment by a professional especially trained in headache care (based on us headache consortium guidelines); and (3) proactive follow-up by a case manager. participation lasted 6 months. control patients received usual care from their primary care providers. main outcome measures: the primary efficacy measure reported in this article is a comparison of midas scores of headache disability between the intervention group and the control group at 6 months. secondary measures were response at 12 months, general health and quality of life, and satisfaction with headache care. results: the intervention improved (ie, decreased) midas scores by 7.0 points (95% confidence interval 2.9 to 11.1) more than the control (p = .008) at 6 months. the difference was not affected by site (p = .59 for clinic by intervention interaction), and a trend toward persistent benefit at 12 months (mean difference in improvement 6.8 points, 95% confidence interval -.3 to 13.9, p = .06) was observed. quality of life and satisfaction with headache treatment were similarly improved. conclusions: coordinated headache management significantly improved outcomes for patients who, despite contact with the healthcare system for hea…”