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Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston are filming a music video. The proof: The posing of the picture. The forced nature of the "I heart T. The timing of the relationship and how quickly it's moving. All point to all conclusions at once. Meredith Grey and Detective Olivia Benson. The proof: Though Kubrick's daughter and all known science has proved otherwise, filmmaker Patrick T.

Murray claims to have a video confession from the filmmaker days before his death in Who believes it: People who watch too many Stanley Kubrick movies. The theory: JonBenet Ramsey was not murdered in , and actually grew up to be multi-platinum recording artist Katy Perry. Who believes it: This one guy. The theory: Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in and replaced by a lookalike.

The Appeal of Conspiracy Theories

The proof: Playing "Revolution 9" backwards. Various song lyrics. Various album covers. Hundreds of other clues found by fans over the decades. Who believes it: At this point, probably Paul McCartney. The theory: Basically all celebrities are members of the Illuminati, which, according to its own website , "is an elite organization of world leaders, business authorities, innovators, artists, and other influential members of this planet" who are tasked with ensuring the survival of every human on the planet.

The proof: Literally everywhere. Who believes it: If you have to ask Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. Photo illustration by Michael Stillwell. It's exhausting. Was it just a coincidence, or is there something else going on? A well-documented side effect of the internet era — with its proliferation of forums for discussion outside of mainstream outlets — has been the proliferation of conspiracy theories. Fittingly, a number of these conspiracy theories scrutinize social media and emerging tech itself.

It's easy to see why: our daily lives are increasingly impacted by a handful of Silicon Valley tech companies whose practices are largely opaque. And in many cases, their business models rely on gathering data about users while keeping them in the dark about what that data is being used for. Most of the major conspiracy theories circulating about big tech are either demonstrably false or unsubstantiated.

However, a few of them have kernels of truth, or were proven true in ways people didn't initially expect.

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Here's a rundown of the most pernicious tech conspiracy theories and what we know about them. This conspiracy theory is so pernicious — and arises with such frequency — that it's almost treated as common knowledge. Every year, Apple announces its new devices and online forums are inundated with anecdotes of users reporting that their phones suddenly stopped working.

In reality, there's no evidence that Apple's devices are hardwired to stop working as soon as newer versions become available. It's more likely that this perennial conspiracy theory is fueled by coincidence: no Apple device is designed to last forever, and peoples' phones break all the time for various reasons — but if your phone breaks the same day that you heard about a new version of iPhone that's about to be released, you're more likely to fire off a tweet pointing out the coincidence.

However, Apple has apologized in the past for rolling out an iPhone software update that deliberately slowed down older phones with aging batteries to preserve overall functionality. The admission, dubbed "Batterygate" in online circles, led to Apple offering reduced rates for battery replacements while insisting that it "never - and would never - do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product. Verdict: False, but Facebook's transcriptions of Messenger voice chats and Portal commands have only reignited this conspiracy theory. Rumors have circulated online for years that Facebook and Instagram use peoples' smartphone microphones to listen in on conversations, detects key words and phrases, and then shows them advertisements based on what it hears.

Mark Zuckerberg was also asked by lawmakers if Facebook mines audio for targeted ads when he testified before Congress in Zuckerberg flatly denied the claims at that time, and Facebook has put out multiple statements denying that it mines users' audio over the years. It would be illegal for Facebook to secretly record your voice, but as this explainer notes, there's also a more compelling reason the conspiracy theory is likely false: Facebook already has a trove of your data — including much of your online activity outside the app — which is far more expansive than what it could glean from spying on your conversations.

However, Facebook has admitted that it monitored different types of user audio : it had contractors transcribe audio from voice memos through Messenger and audio of people interacting with its Portal video-conferencing hardware. In a context where a conspiracy theory has become embedded within a social group, communal reinforcement may also play a part. Some historians have argued that there is an element of psychological projection in conspiracism. This projection, according to the argument, is manifested in the form of attribution of undesirable characteristics of the self to the conspirators.

Historian Richard Hofstadter stated that:. This enemy seems on many counts a projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. A fundamental paradox of the paranoid style is the imitation of the enemy. The enemy, for example, may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship, even of pedantry. The Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy.

One conspiracy theory about Jeffrey Epstein's death is real

The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through "front" groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy. Spokesmen of the various fundamentalist anti-Communist "crusades" openly express their admiration for the dedication, discipline, and strategic ingenuity the Communist cause calls forth.

Hofstadter also noted that "sexual freedom" is a vice frequently attributed to the conspiracist's target group, noting that "very often the fantasies of true believers reveal strong sadomasochistic outlets, vividly expressed, for example, in the delight of anti-Masons with the cruelty of Masonic punishments.

Christopher Hitchens described conspiracy theory as the "exhaust fumes of democracy": [60] the unavoidable result of a large amount of information circulating among a large number of people. Conspiracy theories may be emotionally satisfying, by assigning blame to a group to which the theorist does not belong and so absolving the theorist of moral or political responsibility in society.

If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world. Sociological historian Holger Herwig found in studying German explanations for the origins of World War I , "Those events that are most important are hardest to understand because they attract the greatest attention from myth makers and charlatans.

Conspiracy Theories | The New Yorker

French sociologist Bruno Latour suggests that the widespread popularity of conspiracy theories in mass culture may be due, in part, to the pervasive presence of Marxist -inspired critical theory and similar ideas in academia since the s. While the complete facts of the situation and correct methodology are ostensibly important to them, Latour proposes that the scientific process is instead laid on as a patina to one's pet theories to lend a sort of reputation high ground.

The "fact position" argues that individuals are dominated, often covertly and without their awareness, by external forces e. Michael Kelly , a Washington Post journalist and critic of anti-war movements on both the left and right, coined the term "fusion paranoia" to refer to a political convergence of left-wing and right-wing activists around anti-war issues and civil liberties , which he said were motivated by a shared belief in conspiracism or shared anti-government views.

Conspiracy theory

Barkun has adopted this term to refer to how the synthesis of paranoid conspiracy theories, which were once limited to American fringe audiences, has given them mass appeal and enabled them to become commonplace in mass media , [67] thereby inaugurating an unrivaled period of people actively preparing for apocalyptic or millenarian scenarios in the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The physicist David Robert Grimes estimated the time it would take for a conspiracy to be exposed based on the number of people involved.

Grimes estimated that:. In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies , the philosopher Karl Popper used the term "the conspiracy theory of society" to denote a conception of social phenomena that he found to be defective—namely, that social phenomena such as "war, unemployment, poverty, shortages Popper acknowledged that genuine conspiracies do exist, [73] but noted how infrequently conspirators have been able to achieve their goal.

The historian Bruce Cumings similarly rejects the notion that history is controlled by conspiracies, stating that where real conspiracies have appeared they have usually had little effect on history and have had unforeseen consequences for the conspirators.


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Cumings concludes that history is instead "moved by the broad forces and large structures of human collectivities". In a article, the legal scholars Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule considered a number of possible government responses to conspiracy theories, including censorship and taxation. They concluded that the authorities ought to engage in counter-speech and dialogue, which they termed "cognitive infiltration".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Conspiracy theory disambiguation. An explanation of an event or situation that unnecessarily invokes a conspiracy. Further information: List of conspiracy theories. Main article: Conspiracy theories in the Arab world. At their broadest, conspiracy theories 'view history as controlled by massive, demonic forces.

On the Dark and Dangerous Underbelly of Climate Conspiracy Theories

For our purposes, a conspiracy belief is the belief that an organization made up of individuals or groups was or is acting covertly to achieve a malevolent end. Political Psychology. Oxford English Dictionary 3rd ed. Oxford University Press. September Subscription or UK public library membership required. Jonathan Cape. Retrieved 17 August Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. March The Journal of Philosophy.

Berkeley: University of California Press. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Personality and Individual Differences.

Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire" PDF. British Journal of Social Psychology.


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Commish Walsh. Yale University Press. University of Minnesota Press; 2nd edition. Orman Ray". The American Historical Review. The claim that [David R. Parker of Virginia in Full text. The Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 11 December Conspiracy Theory in America. The term "conspiracy theory" did not exist as a phrase in everyday American conversation before In , the year the Warren Commission issued its report, the New York Times published five stories in which "conspiracy theory" appeared.

Diogenes : The Telegraph. The Daily Telegraph.