The ‘Smooth Bernie’ Conspiracy Theory, ExplainedResearchers performed a psychological analysis of conspiracy theorists on the internet and concluded most of them are normal. The study was conducted on the platform Reddit, as it is a “propaganda outline that amplifies conspiracy theories.”
Conspiracy Theorists, people who divulge in conspiracy theories. Have you meet anyone who passionately told you how the Moon Landing was staged by NASA with help of Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick or the countless accounts of the alien encounters of first, second and third kind? Well, those would be conspiracy theorists.
‘The front page of the internet’, Reddit hosts over 1.2 million subreddits— forums or pages that are dedicated to any topic from mildly interesting stuff to conspiracy theories. The researchers in their study focused on r/conspiracy and 224,625 other subreddits to create a sample of 1.10 billion comments posted between October 2007 and May 2015.
The researchers compared two types of users— the users who posted on r/conspiracy and the users that didn’t. Researchers found the latter type posted comparatively less than the people who did post on r/conspiracy. There were also consistent differences in the type of language used by the two types of users.
The language differences were related to whether users actively engaged in forums that had the roots of conspirational ideology before they started interaction on r/conspiracy. But the conspirational mindset was then enhanced later indicating “amplification of existing biases rather than a de novo radicalization process.”
Theorists come about due to the low-level theorizing seen in everyday life and current impactful events like the 2016 US presidential elections. The researchers found people who interacted more on r/conspiracy were also active on political forums to find like-minded people.
Being driven by current events and seeking out sympathetic communities is very normal on the internet. That’s why the author of the study, Dr. Colin Klein thinks conspiracy theorists aren’t necessarily “crackpots wearing tinfoil hats“.