The Meth Hypothesis: Why Normal People Believe in Conspiracy Theories

You wake up one day and you're Steve Buscemi. Not worth it.

You wake up one day and you’re Steve Buscemi. Not worth it.

Is America losing it? It would seem so judging by polls on weird beliefs and opinions in recent years. Here is a recent handful from Public Policy Polling (PPP),

28% of voters believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government

37% believe that global warming is a hoax/conspiracy

4% believe shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power. May not sound like much but that’s almost one in 20, so it’s very likely you know a person who is perhaps wondering whether you are one of the lizards.

9% believe the government is adding fluoride to the drinking water for sinister reasons.

21% believe a UFO crashed at Roswell in 1947.

15 % believe the media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals.

It may of course be that Americans have always been crazy but that the media is reporting more of it than before to satisfy the public’s pressing need for entertainment – it seems most news sites have a “weird” section these days.  It’s hard to find any longitudinal data on conspiracy theories, but Gallup has data on odd beliefs, often held by the same individuals, from 1990 until 2005 and it suggests an increase. But why?

The Meth Hypothesis

We already know a category of people who hold both bizarre and persecutory beliefs – schizophrenics and schizotypal personalities. We also know that amphetamines will make a normal person start thinking like these people. Psychologists will even use amphetamine addicts to study schizophrenia and schizotypy for this reason.  Could this be what is causing this increase? There may be other factors contributing to the increase in weird beliefs – the rise of the internet, increasing marijuana use, globalization and diversity, fears regarding the environment etc. But only amphetamines are proven to produce odd and persecutory beliefs (the evidence for cannabis is much weaker). So let’s look at the stats. Since there doesn’t seem to be any official statistics on the overall number of meth users, I’ve chosen treatment admissions as a percentage of the population from SAMHSA as a proxy. These are all amphetamines but they all have a similar effect and meth is the most common.


Keep in mind that this chart is of treatment admissions rather than actual use. The peak in 2005 represents people who have been doing the drug for a while before understanding that they need help. The actual use of meth must have peaked earlier, exactly when is hard to tell but given how destructive this particular drug is, it’s probably not later than sometime around 2002-2003.

Witches, Hauntings and Aliens

Now compare this chart with some others showing how many Americans believe in various weird stuff (as a percentage of the population); the data is taken from Gallup. What we’re looking for is an increase during the 1990s and a peak a few years before 2005, in this case we have data for the year 2001 as the closest fit. So, here goes,


This is not a great start, I’ll admit that. There is no gradual increase in the 1990s, but there is a small peak at 2001 and consequently a drop to 2005. This is also the belief that is the least odd with an average of 47 percent believers and 21 percent disbelievers.


This data is even less kind to my meth hypothesis. It has none of the three features and with 42 percent believers and the same percent disbelievers it’s not that odd, although clearly polarizing with few uncertain. It’s possible that since this question was specifically about the devil it could be linked to religion in a way the others aren’t.


Healing shows a gradual increase but that’s about it. Then again this is also one of the more conventional beliefs with 52 percent believers and only 29 percent disbelievers. So I wouldn’t count this one at all. A majority view is in no way odd.


Telepathy is moderately odd with 34 percent believers and 39 percent disbelievers. It has no initial increase but it peaks in 2001.


Hauntings is also moderately odd with an average of 34 percent believers and 40 percent disbelievers. This one has all the features, a gradual increase with a peak at 2001.

alien visitation

Alien visitation has 28 percent believers and 43 percent disbelievers so I’d consider it to be clearly odd. Although we only have data for three years, these do illustrate the features that support the hypothesis.


Clairvoyance, here defined as the power of the mind to know the past and predict the future, has an average of 28 percent believers and 48 percent disbelievers, again a clearly odd belief. And it shows an increase during the 1990s, and a peak at 2001.


A little surprising, astrology counts as clearly odd belief with a ratio of 25/55 believers and disbelievers. It has most of the 1990s increase but beginning with a drop, then peaks at 2001.


With 31 and 51 percent believers and disbelievers this is also a clearly odd belief. And it has all the right features.


At 23/51 believers and non-believers, reincarnation is also clearly odd. It has the year 1994 that ruins the initial increase but it shows an increase from 1990 to 2001 so overall there is an increase, followed by a local peak at 2001. 4 out 5 years confirm the hypothesis.

communicating with the dead

Also a clearly odd belief (23/54), with same flaw that the previous chart had – all years except 1994 confirms the hypothesis. The peak in 2001 is of the same magnitude as that of 1994.


This is my personal favourite. It’s what I’d call a very odd  belief with only 19 percent believers and 69 percent disbelievers. Witches are also malicious agents that plot against people, making this belief very similar in nature to conspiracy theories. The chart has all the right features.


Finally, channelling, the ability that some have to go into a trance and let spirits talk through them. This is also a very odd belief (9/66) that fits the meth data perfectly.

Summing Up the Evidence

Which of these beliefs should be considered sufficiently odd? We can certainly not say that spiritual healing is an odd belief since it is held by a small majority. As for the rest, it’s admittedly a bit arbitrary but, I would define a belief as odd if it has fewer believers than disbelievers, which seem like a minimum requirement. This means that healing, possession and ESP are out, leaving us with 10 odd beliefs. So how well did these 10 confirm the meth hypothesis?

7 out 10 showed an absolute peak at 2001. Of the rest telepathy and communicating with the dead showed shared a maximum peak at 2001 with another year. The remaining belief in reincarnation showed local peak at 2001. That’s pretty peaky.

As for a continuous increase in the 1990s there are three categories: 5 had unequivocal increase throughout the 1990s, 4 had overall increase from earliest year to 2001 but interrupted with a local decrease (for hauntings this decrease was very small), and one, telepathy, had the same value for 1990 and 2001. No overall decrease at all.

So the data seem to support the hypothesis pretty well. But there are of course other possible factors to consider,

Alternative Explanations

As I said earlier, marijuana is sometimes mentioned as a drug that could contribute to schizotypal and outright schizophrenic thoughts and beliefs. But unlike meth, this drug has increased continuously since the early 1990s and has still to peak. Another candidate is the internet. I’m not going to do a chart for it but the number of internet users is constantly growing so no peak there either. Yet another candidate could be changing demographics. Perhaps the Catholic immigrants to America bring their superstitions with them? But looking at Mexicans, the overwhelmingly largest Hispanic group, there is no peak, not even a local, in their part of the population, only a continuous increase over the years.­

How Can This Be?

But how does this happen? How does such a small group – according to most estimates just a few hundred thousand –  of people have such influence?  One reason is that a person holding an irrational belief is usually more interested in it than say a regular Christian is about transubstantiation. They will obsess about it constantly. Like former meth user Fergy Duhamel of the Black Eyed Peas says in an interview,

I had about 20 different conspiracy theories. I painted the windows in my apartment black so they couldn’t see in.

When a schizophrenic on the sidewalk rants about the government this doesn’t persuade anyone, but a more coherent and presentable schizotypal person can be appear much more convincing. And my guess is that a meth user online can probably do a pretty good job at selling his theories too – especially when other meth users are online on various forums saying similar things. While what they are saying may not make much sense it doesn’t have to. Just saying it repeatedly and with great conviction goes a long way. One thing social psychology (it’s not all bad) teaches us is that repetition is an effective way of persuasion, especially if you vary the way you say it a little – which is exactly what you get from an army of delusional meth addicts sitting up all night preaching their peculiar gospel.

But can they really sit still while on meth? It seems so. Because not all meth addicts are out partying or committing crimes. Some stay indoors cooked up in their houses or apartments. In an article in The Kernel, science writer Greg Stevens shares his experiences of some middle class meth addicts. One of them is “J”,

The window shades are drawn tight because J usually stays awake for 70 to 100 hours at a time. He knows that if the neighbours can see light coming from his house at all hours of the night, they will begin to suspect something. J has also placed a folding room divider covered with tinfoil in the hallway just inside the front door. This is to block any kind of infra-red or other types of electromagnetic spying equipment that the neighbours might be using.

It’s not hard to imagine how an intelligent, educated and hermit-like person like J combined with 20 conspiracy theories like Fergie would make an ideal person for spreading these ideas over the internet. If we guesstimate that there are 300K meth users in America and ten percent of them rant about conspiracies online, then that would be roughly twice as many as there are lobbyists in Washington. And they are no doubt much more persistent.

33 Responses to The Meth Hypothesis: Why Normal People Believe in Conspiracy Theories

  1. I’ve got a simpler hypothesis: the untermensch have procreated in too great of numbers.

    Occam’s Razor, I win. QED.

  2. JayMan says:

    Interesting, but, sadly, the data here doesn’t go over a long enough period of time nor does is the data on meth good enough to allow us to confidently assess its usage.

    Now, that said, in the U.S., meth has a serious regional slant. Specifically, it is a Greater Appalachian (and Left Coast) problem, so the key appears to be Scotch-Irish:

    Do you live near a meth lab? – CNNMoney

    Of course, these are the same people who are less likely to trust the gub’ment in the first place… 😉

    • Staffan says:

      It’s a preliminary finding. Got to start somewhere.

      You got a point about the Scotch-Irish. It would make sense for a clannish or tribal person to entertain conspiracy theories, especially about outgroups. But the map of Scotch-Irish ancestry on Wikipedia doesn’t fit the meth lab map.

      • JayMan says:

        Did you include “American” ancestry? Most of that, especially around Appalachia, is Scotch-Irish.

        Beyond that, in general, self-reported ancestry is generally quite unreliable.

        The true extent of Scotch-Irish ancestry is very close to Colin Woodard’s map of Greater Appalachia (and a far bit of the Far West and the Left Coast):

        Maps of the American Nations | JayMan’s Blog

  3. Staffan says:

    I might believe that if you can produce evidence that “untermensensch” likes conspiracies and that their numbers peaked in the early 2000s.

  4. Staffan says:

    That map looks like a better match. There is a lot of meth labs in SoCal too, perhaps Hispanics?

    I guess it’s another factor to consider. Stimulants and clannishness may both contribute. I read an article in the news here a while back in which a Somali woman complained that the Somali men were only chewing khat and talking about how rotten Swedes are all day long. Maybe they need some exstacy instead : )

    • JayMan says:

      Those in the West might be the “Okies” – Depression-era migrants who came from the western reaches of Greater Appalachia to California. Today, many of them make up the western biker gangs.

      I’m not sure how the Hispanic-White breakdown of meth usage works on the West coast, but some friends have told me Hispanics aren’t so much into meth.

      I guess it’s another factor to consider. Stimulants and clannishness may both contribute. I read an article in the news here a while back in which a Somali woman complained that the Somali men were only chewing khat and talking about how rotten Swedes are all day long. Maybe they need some exstacy instead : )

      Indeed. 🙂 But perhaps the factor here is general addictive susceptibility, which may have to do with adaptation to alcohol, for example?

      • Staffan says:

        Looking at the drug situation in Appalachia, it seems like more than just the social conditions and low intelligence. There is probably some other biological factor involved. I imagine pastoralists would be more sensation seeking.

  5. Jayman is right about people who list “American” as their ancestry. It is greatly British and of that, Scots-Irish more than other sections of GB. It’s not a lock, but it is a clear trend. I suppose if you have a very ethnic surname you hold the knowledge longer than if one is named Carter or Johnson.

    I would be curious how this compares with other places in the world. Reportedly, many Americans – and especially many blacks – believe that 9/11 was an inside job and especially that all the Jews were warned to stay home. (Quite a trick, that.) But the only people I have ever heard say that out loud were Europeans. I don’t know how Swedes are in paranoid thought, but Eastern Europeans would score quite high. With good reason, really.

    I also think you are going to find apples-to-apples measurement difficulties because people are not consistent in their odd beliefs, and modify them to suit their audience. Most people just don’t think about it that hard. They might believe in healing, but think it is rare, or similarly that there’s “something to that” WRT ghosts or UFO’s or conspiracies without putting a lot of energy into it. Some people believe almost any hidden knowledge, others disbelieve almost all concrete examples of the miraculous while considering the possibility real.

    As for those who do put in energy, I have commented before, from my work with paranoid schizophrenics (schizotypals not so much) that the paranoid cast of mind comes first, then goes in search of explanations, picking up whatever is in the air at the time. The Mafia was big among the newly paranoid in the 80’s. Now, it’s implanted chips. Poisonous chemicals have remained constant.

    Fun topic.

    • Staffan says:

      Swedes are pretty much the opposite of conspiracy theorists, perhaps in line with not being clannish as is more common in Eastern Europe. I’m beginning to think a slight inbreeding of the “smooth” kind, meaning everyone is slightly related but no one is alarmingly related, creates the greatest trust in a society.

      This may not always be a good thing though. While there is a term like “paranoid” there is no word to describe an extreme and debilitating gullibility.

      People are not very consistent, that is true, but I think it may even out in the statistics. I’m definitely going to track this to see what happens in the future. I suspect there may be an increase in meth use right now as people have figured out the shake-and-bake method that they can do themselves to a very low cost.

  6. Alice Finkel says:

    Funny, I had always thought that the it was the people who believed in anthropogenic carbon climate doom and apocalypse who were on meth. That would explain the delusion as well as anything.


    • Staffan says:

      You ended up in the spam filter for some reason, sorry about that.

      I don’t think believing that global warming is caused by humans is a delusion. Believing in the scientific consensus is probably a fairly rational thing to do, given the success of science. Not to say that the scientific community is unaffected by politics, far from it. But unless you have the time and capacity to look into everything yourself it’s probably a good strategy.

  7. Gottlieb says:

    ”28% of voters believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government”

    ”4% believe shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power. May not sound like much but that’s almost one in 20, so it’s very likely you know a person who is perhaps wondering whether you are one of the lizards.”

    Two immensely differents ”theories”, the second is clearly an delirium way.

    And you does not believe in it??
    So tell me about the ”Syria war”, tell me about the facts these War that you know…

    ”It may of course be that Americans have always been crazy but that the media is reporting more of it than before to satisfy the public’s pressing need for entertainment – it seems most news sites have a “weird” section these days. It’s hard to find any longitudinal data on conspiracy theories, but Gallup has data on odd beliefs, often held by the same individuals, from 1990 until 2005 and it suggests an increase. But why?”

    Madness, it exist??
    You now does look like the typical psychiatric discourse about ”normality and abnormality”??
    You of the psychology live on a strange world, with moments to accept neurodiversity and others change completely to pathologize all ” differents beliefs’
    There a name to your text today

    You to judge people that ”believe” in a ”conspiracy theories”, join all ”conspiracy” types like idiot reptylians with very possible ”global elite plans”.
    I’m a person that believe completely in some ‘conspiracy theories, because they look very possible and congruent with the reality of geographic and historic patterns and, i like to concentrate in some details about the attitudes that many people despise. Never was medicated and i’m very normal here, in a tropical sanatory of ”diweirdsity”.
    Unfortunatelly many poor people tend to believe in conspiracy theories but it depend to context. For example, in Spain the most educated people are more ”anti-semitic” than less educated people.

    ”Swedes are pretty much the opposite of conspiracy theorists, perhaps in line with not being clannish as is more common in Eastern Europe.”

    Will fun to see the blonde aryan swede faces when your beautiful country turn a banana republic with all amazing things of the ”diversity”. Ooooow, sorry, it already happen but many swedes continue rationally thinking that ”conspiracy theories” wasn’t the targeted name to pathologize the people who thinking out-liberal-box.

    • Staffan says:

      I use the word “crazy” in a non-psychiatric way, meaning an unfounded and peculiar belief. I’ll go with the evidence even if it leads to secret lizards – which you called “delirium”. Could it be that you want respect for you conspiracy while laughing at others? Seeing patterns is often just a way of projecting your own ideas to the outer world.

      Sadly, we don’t turn into a banana republic but into Eurabia, which is much worse. But it’s out of my hands. So, yes we could have benefitted from being a little more suspicious but that fact is little proof for any of the theories mentioned above. Although a lot of this situation is just wishful thinking that things will turn out fine rather than failing to see the problem. Polls consistently show that voters here think the anti-immigration party is the best on the immigration issue. They just don’t see it as a big problem compared to things like healthcare and education.

      • Gottlieb says:

        Yes, sure. But many ”peculiar through” aren’t based on unfounded beliefs. You is clearly generalize all of it and create a pseudo-correlactions and biological hbdchick theory explanations about it.
        ”Off cours”, the fact of american people are more predisposed to belief in ”conspiracy” than ultra rational norses could be because only their bio-predispositions. I agree with it, but is incomplete and should be get the environment, historical and social explanations for this behavior. Obvious, many people with schyzo- predisposition also are predispose to developed paranoia, but generally more like as an debilitating and rationally inconsistent way.
        Therefore, when you restrict your explanations to biological principles like ”tribalistic” environment and avoid thinking also on historical and social explanations could easily patho-apologize but my one turn again, is very inconsistent with neurodiversity thinking, that i’m an great intusiastic. I’m not say where you live, but for many middle and working class people, the life turn very complicated with mass imigration and culture of self hate, think in their kids bullined in public schools, your insecure way of life. It is practically their death sentences, all things that they conquest being pulled them. Normal life???
        I see many ”normal, extroverted and rationally thinking way” and to say, these people don’t know about anything, they live their stupid non-intelectual lives, accept all television liers, don’t worry if 100 mil people die in Syria, don’t worry why stupid Wars like that continue to happen… Perfect mental slaves.
        I’m not fault with respect with ”lizard theory” but, for me, it was created exactly by discredit other labelled ”reality theories”.
        When you is more like an out lier and introverted tend to be also more connected with details that majority of the ‘normal’ people aren’t. In USA,like i said, by many explanations, the most educated people are more predisposed to believe in liberal thinking than conservative or other thinking. But, it could be change in near future.
        No, i’m not ”build” my patterns to fit to ”my theory”. I’m simply follow all political and social events. I see the two sides and see that one of the twos, are clearly lie about the reality, specially when i connected them with leftism totalitarianism, my unique theory is a statistical and logical neutral patterns.
        I’m just to conclude that many things that leftist to say make sense and could be availed much probably. I’m not ideologically rightist oriented, sorry.
        The anti-immigration party in Sweden could be more like the Sarkozy anti-immigration party in France, they to say to you that are anti-immigration but maintained the same leftist narrative and worst in many things, now in Sweden probably, this party that you site, should be clame to an better ”integration of immigrants communities” but the majority of integrable immigrants already integrate themselves.
        But, you also not respond my question about Syria news & facts.

  8. Staffan says:

    This isn’t about whether these theories are right or wrong. It’s about their character and origin.

    I agree that there can be more than one factor; I just pointed out that methamphetamine use creates this kid of thinking and the level of use seems to follow the number of people who believe in similar odd things, like witches.

    As for people who are predisposed, we don’t know for a fact that they are any more delusional than the general population.

    The war in Syria is a matter of the West blessing the world with democracy, assuming it will be the universal remedy to all societal problems. I don’t see a conspiracy at work, but even there was one I will remind you of what I began this comment with: I’m not discussing whether these ideas are right or wrong but their origin.

    • Gottlieb says:

      The population in general are delirious, they believe in any thing. Tell to them that eat faeces make better to health and have certain that they will it. Destroy your individuality to fit with norms is dont normal something.
      To really understand the Syria War you should to see it

      I don’t to say that it consistently is true, but why not?
      If paranoid traits was non advantageous so don’t can have persist at now.

      • Staffan says:

        You’ll find this sort of ambitions among some individuals in practically every ethnic group on the planet. Also,

        “More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel.”

        Israel did in fact leave Gaza years ago – which was then used as a launching pad for rockets into Israel. They really suck at making the Greater Israel.

        And I think hbd* chick has a much better explanation for why the Arab world is sectarian – clannishness.

        Some Jews can be tricky – a combination of high IQ and clannishness will have that effect. (Although some Jews are the salt of the Earth – like Henry Spira.) That is what Jung calls the hook of projection, that little piece of evidence that appears valid. But if you honestly look at all the evidence I’m sure you would find that the pattern will dissolve in front of your eyes.

        You seem like a high energy guy. Invest that energy where it pays off. Don’t waste it on a dead end. Conspiracy theorists are not great writers, artists, scientists or anything really. Because all their energy is wasted.

  9. Craig Nelsen says:

    Couldn’t the attacks of 9/11 explain the (remarkably slight, all things considered) uptick in 2001 of the percentage of Americans who give credence to conspiracy theories?

    • Staffan says:

      It’s possible. The truthers did get a lot of media attention. It would depend on what the years between 2001 and 2005 look like. It was late in 2001 so you’d expect at least 2002 to be on roughly the same level if not an actual peak.

      I don’t think there is much data for that period though. Most likely I will look at more recent years to complement this article with.

    • Sam says:

      This is true. I didn’t believe in conspiracy theories until after 9-11. I was told by another person that 9-11 was a conspiracy theory and so I set out to prove him wrong. I could not. One of the major reasons is building #7, which was not hit by a plane, fell for 108 feet at the same speed as a bowling ball dropped in mid air. This is impossible. Even if some how we magically suspended the floors of building #7 in the air, placed marshmallows in between the floors and then dropped the floors the building still would have fallen slower than it did. You’re going to have to do some fairly fancy verbal footwork to convince me that buildings can fall in a synchronized manner at the same speed that rocks drop in mid air. To make it even worse all the inner columns of the building first vaporized then within seconds the outer columns vaporized such that all of the columns let go at precisely the same time. The building remains remarkably level as it falls into a nice neat pile. Let’s be even more precise. All of these columns MUST be vaporized otherwise they would have some kind of resistance. They ALL must do so at almost the exact same time. Now please explain how office fires did this. There was damage to the back of the building but did the damage cause the building to fall? NIST says “no”. If you look on the current NIST FAQ they removed it that statement,

      but through the magic of the internet (they must hate this) internet archive has the old one.

      quote,”…Did debris from the collapse of WTC 1 cause damage to WTC 7’s structure in a way that contributed to the building’s collapse?

      The debris caused structural damage to the southwest region of the building-severing seven exterior columns-but this structural damage did not initiate the collapse…”

      So only seven exterior columns were damaged and it caused the simultaneous collapse of ALL the building columns.

      How can any reasoning person believe such a stupid thing?

      Here’s a video of Geraldo interviewing an engineering architect about building #7.

      9/11: WTC Building 7 collapse video compilation

      You asked,”…Is America losing it?…”. I suggest you explain this miraculous falling building before you go much farther down the American meth crazy path.

      • Staffan says:

        I’m describing a pattern so unless you have some credible evidence regarding reptilians, fluoride poisoning etc we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      • Sam says:

        “…credible evidence regarding reptilians, fluoride poisoning…”

        So the only credible evidence for a pattern of conspiracy is reptiles or fluoride?

        I was addressing one of your points namely,”…28% of voters believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government…”

        9-11 would fall under that category far more that reptile shape shifters. The Kennedy assassination primed people to understand that things were not as they were told. 9-11 upped the evidence confirming the “pattern”.

        As a nice aside wouldn’t using the term “reptile” be another word for psychopaths? A reptilian group if there was ever one. With no capacity for empathy they’re a stripped down version of human. Only capable of lust for power and domination. Like really smart snakes.

      • Staffan says:

        9/11 is more widely held theory/belief, true. I’m just saying there seems to be an overall pattern here for all sorts of conspiracy and weird beliefs. This is not to say that some of it can’t be true.

        Psychopaths are often compared to reptiles (or androids) for the reason you mention. Psychologist Robert Hare for instance wrote a book on successful psychopaths called “Snakes in Suits.”

  10. Gottlieb says:

    I’m not a hater of ashkenazim, to be sincere,i consider mylsef near to them than other people. I exhibit many similar psychological traits and think extremely interesting how they conquest (it is a fact) the modern civilization, change the american culture even being only 14 million people, fault, less than 10 millons. It is admirable.
    I’m intense intelectual and love knowledge, but also be worry about the future of western world. I want develop many areas in the future, at least in this region, but and when Brazzel stay uninhabitable??
    At least i know swim, first left hand, second right, first left hand, second…
    Some conspiracy theories will continue sense to me, sorry.

  11. Sisyphean says:

    Growing up I often thought of conspiracy theories as heroin for smart people because so many members of my family on both sides who were engineers, doctors, scientists, professionals, all seemed to have odd beliefs. The government was watching them (ha! this has turned out to be true but not in the sense they meant, i.e. watching them, personally), aliens were really abducting people and there was a government conspiracy about it, MLM schemes were a good idea to get into, etc. tons of crazy beliefs.

    Now, I was a huge fan of bigfoot and aliens too when I was young but that fascination went away as I got older. I’m not going to say that I discovered the scientific method and it ‘saved me’, more that I began to put ideas in boxes, to decide that I wasn’t going to believe anything fully unless I had a reason to. There are simply too many things to believe in, many of them contradictory and so one has to be circumspect about lending out credence. if there’s anything odd about me in this respect it’s that I am willing to seriously entertain any idea, no matter how outlandish, but I won’t just decide it’s true without lengthy consideration and lots of evidence. This may be why so many people feel safe talking to me about the weird things they secretly believe.

    I’m not sure I buy meth as a driver for the growth of aberrant beliefs. Meth use has grown, true but I’ve also see this kind of thinking growing among non meth users. The rise of the internet in the past ten years though, that makes me wonder. In the past if I wanted to believe in UFO abductions I had to read books and possibly go to conventions, but today you can go to internet forums and facebook groups and find thousands of other nuts exactly like you who can reinforce your aberrant thinking on a daily basis. I have a first cousin (diagnosed hystrionic) who is an ‘activist’ in many groups on facebook where the members bathe each other in constant positive feedback for the most insane statements/behaviors. As a (relatively) level headed relative, I can’t complete with 20-30 other people saying how right my cousin is for doing something, I can only watch as things inevitably spiral into chaos, only to calm down again for a while before another cycle of chaos, all in the span of a day.


    • Staffan says:

      It’s good to be open-minded but reserve a certain skepsis. I have some odd beliefs but I don’t take anything for granted.

      The internet is no doubt part of this, as a catalyst, but the growth of odd beliefs goes back to at least 1990 – five years before internet. And the number of users grow at a fairly constant rate, not peaking in 2005. (More data is clearly needed.)

      Not that every conspiracy theorist is on meth. Some probably have a naturally higher level of dopamine, a schizotypal personality. They can appear very normal and are often of high intelligence.

  12. I don’t think Americans are the only people who believe in the weird things. And sometimes weird things are true. I had an experience once where I was with another person and we both saw and heard the same thing (a supernatural event) happen at the same time. This other person considers himself an atheist or agnostic so he does not believe in anything really, but we both experienced the same thing. The supernatural and other weird things really do exist, but not all people are able to gain access to them. I worked in the psych field too and almost everyone in my facility saw and heard “weird things” at night in the place we worked at. Most of these people were educated and not ignorant or crazy.

  13. Staffan says:

    I agree that sane people experience things that appear to be out of this world that in no way fit the explanations typically given by skeptics. Other species can see other colors than we so what’s to say that some people can see that which other can’t?

    But the thing with meth users is that they don’t just say, “that was something out of this world” but “that was a subterranean reptilian overlord in secret liasion with the government.” They don’t even need to have an anomalous experience. They can say that about the mailman.

    Weird things can be true. Telepathy is now becoming reality through EEG devices. In light of that it seems pretty silly to think there couldn’t possibly exist a person who could do it without a device. The giant squid was once a creature of folklore until it wasn’t. And so on. So let’s keep an open mind – unlike the meth users.

  14. I’ll offer another hypothesis. I have been in and around the conspiracy theories for years. Sometimes I have been sucked in for a while on what seems to be an interesting case. But ultimately, in all but a few cases you eventually spot an area of flawed logic, or blatant logical leaps. There are conspiracies, eventually they do come to light but on the whole these few true cases tend to be mundane, very very few (eg Watergate) are worthy of note. However, their mere existence is enough to send people off joining dots everywhere else.

    We now live in an increasingly information rich age. the more data there is the more that people who have not honed their reasoning skills will join dots in haphazard ways and quickly reach the catastrophic conclusion that they need a tin foil hat.

    People who have barely read newspapers before, and never had the chance to learn to read between the lines of stories, are being exposed to all kinds of information. Many are those with the desire for social justice and other ant-authoritarian chips on their shoulders. I know because I am one. I mix with many people like this. As soon as they begin to wake up to the very complex and nuanced world around them in governance and law and commerce they leap to join the dots.

    There is a different class who feed on this for other reasons: Those who write the theories that make them authorities. Deep down they have joined the dots in haphazard ways too but their main trait is to need to have others following them.

    Most people who ‘wake up’ when exposed to the internet are latent authoritarian followers who in attempting to escape for their earlier enslavement to ‘the system’ are all too ready to jump back into bed with the authoritarian leaders among them, and the cycle of mass hierarchy is reborn. Only this time the only thing we really see is a mass of fruitcakes. For every Alex Jones there are 100 hanging on his every word.

    But lets not worry too much. The more you join the dots eventually you come full circle and realise that you were just grasping for a simple comforting reality in a complex ambiguous world. Eventually people who have joined enough dots do get a cogent grip on the world and its ambiguities, they take responsibility for it, and they become better citizens.

    If it were not for the internet fewer people would have educated themselves and grown. I believe that conspiracy theorising is a natural part of the process of exposing yourself to a complex world, making the effort to think and learn to think, and eventually becoming wiser. A few people get stuck there but my guess is that most move past the theories, learn to apply rational thought to arguments (and the slight of hand that others often use) and develop as better individuated souls.

    • Staffan says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      It may be as you say, that we have so much data to play with that we can connect dots and see patterns everywhere. But it seems to me that most people aren’t into that. So it may be a circumstance that aggravates the type of people who connects dots, making them more active while the majority just gossip more than before the internet. Just like meth would be another such aggravating factor.

  15. I would suggest the beleifs % of people are not all whako or ice addicts.
    Research with a blank mind some of these conspiracy theories.
    Beleif systems are very hard to identify and i certainly was amazed at how many i had atrached to my mind.

    Read thru all the bullshit, there is a very real story being told here amongst the conspiracy theorists.

    I have studied both sides, all angles, for many many months on certain theories.
    I began to unfold a definate truth within. Its been a wonderful journey and awakening from this little bubble i once lived in.
    Its silly to argue or opinionate i know everything but I would suggest after factualy based research and unbiased evaluations and my gut instinct quite a lot of conspiracy theories are very very real.

    There are a definite elite people running this world.
    Study all our history being suppressed, and i mean not only past but also present day right now. Study why our true history is manipulated.
    Study who writes your sons and daughters schooling carriculum.
    Study what companies own almost everything within different entities.
    All the food we eat, all the tv and media you watch.
    Study the meaning of words like banks, courts and judges. Principles, lords and ELites. Elections,
    Aboriginals and all different races
    Study why aboriginals are not called what they are ORIGINALS. Arent we just 1 race???human beings are 1 race…
    Why do we get taught different races exist but ridicule racism
    Why have all the great inventors and theorists of tbe world been silenced, ridiculed, shamed even jailed and research destroyed.
    Research all the cures for disease that have been stolen from us.. reaseach who owns the big pharmacutical companies.
    Research oil isn’t a fossil fuel and is as
    rare as diamonds haha.

    Research the Holocaust. Now theres a belief system even i had trouble coming to terms with.
    We and i beleive anyone in power. We beleive everything we are taught to be true without question when by a scientist or school teacher etc etc….i expected my schooling to be truth.

    Study what they left out. Study your true origins, study ancient civilizations all over the world far more advanced than us, study evolution and all angles around it make it laughable.
    Study frequency and the power of 3, 6 and 9. Awaken your consciousness from the indoctrined agenda written systems we are living in.
    Study the only un man manipulated history we have . The sumarian clay tablets. Study every ancient civilisation that spoke of the same beings. From aborigines īto egyptions, to peruvians. They all speak and write about the gods who came down from the heavens and taught us great knowledge.

    The gods who created us in there own image???? Too many sources in too many places on earth to be coincidental..

    They speak of great giants, ancient bloodlines, the annunaki do.
    Study ancient new zealand stolen history. Study 60,000 giant skeletons being hushed up. Study Australia and new Zealand pyramids, stone henge rock formations, hieroglyphics and ancientknowledge of orion and planetary sysyems far more advanced than us.

    Study pyramids getting bulldozed in tin can bay by soldiers after ww2.
    He who wins the war rewrites history .

    Study why our true origins and history are being covered up.

    And i havnt even started on any conspiracy theories yet . These are all well studied facts.

    Facts that make real sense to me now..

    Everything you know is a lie!!!

    Question everything. you understand!!!

    I do not stand under you….

    • Staffan says:

      Thanks for your comment.
      To clarify: this is just a theory of how people may become prone to focus on such ideas to the extent that they become delusional. This is not to say conpiracies and unconventional beliefs are always false. I think there are plenty of evidence for that. So we should keep an open mind even if it sounds crazy. Hell, even if the messenger is a meth head, we should still let the evidence decide. That’s the only way.

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