Conspiracy Theories

When researchers trolled Facebook conspiracy nuts with random false info, they bought it every time

According to a February, 2015 study, conspiracy theorists are so gullible, they completely lack the ability to know when they’re being purposefully duped.

Looking at the social media habits of people who subscribe to chemtrails, 9/11 trutherism, reptilians and the Illuminati, a team of Italian and American researchers found that these people rarely engage with social media pages that challenge their views, encapsulating themselves in a self-affirming bubble of misinformation.

Social media proved to be the flashpoint of this phenomenon, since it perpetuates misinformation and allows it to be shared and amplified at a rate not seen before the rise of the Internet.

After examining the social media habits of 1.2 million Facebook users, the researchers found that almost 92 percent of those who engage with Italian conspiracy theory pages get their information primarily from these pages, with almost zero counterbalance from more mainstream, fact-based sources.

The study also found that posts from conspiracy pages get unusually high engagement rates on Facebook, such as likes and shares.

The researchers then tested the strength of the conspiracy theorists’ biases by posting “troll information” (sarcastic comments parodying anti-science views) on Facebook.

The farcical posts the researchers used were blatantly obvious, “like the undisclosed news that infinite energy has been finally discovered,” or that a “new lamp made of actinides (e.g. plutonium and uranium) might solve problems of energy gathering with less impact on the environment,” or that “chemical analysis” has revealed that “chemtrails contain sildenafil citratum (the active ingredient of Viagra).”

Related links: This guy fooled millions of chemtrail conspiracy theorists, now they want his head

A whopping 78 percent of those who “liked” the 4,709 troll posts were people who were regular followers of conspiracy Facebook pages and outlets, Additionally, 81 percent of those who commented on the troll posts had similar social media habits.

The researchers also made sure to point out that “cognitive resources” were wasted when people who reject conspiracy theories took time to engage in disputing the unscientific “troll” claims.”

In other words, don’t waste your time arguing with conspiracy nuts — which is sound advice I routinely ignore.

[Raw Story/Plos One] This post was first published in May of 2015 and has since been updated

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Al

    May 5, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Look at the facts of building 7 and the interviews of the engineers many of which were stricken from the investigation! How does a building that has not been struck by any other building lapse perfectly lime planned demolition?

  2. Jeff

    May 5, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    In an interview, following 9-11, Larry Silverstein (the owner of building 7), said that he gave the order to “pull” building 7-a jargon term used by controlled demolition experts, meaning: to collapse a building or structure by the use of explosives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jPzAakHPpk

  3. Paul Notgonnasay

    May 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    To argue with fools makes one a bigger fool.

  4. Sheri Weber

    May 6, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Regardless the WTC went down like a demolition and you can troll us and tell us it didn’t but we know it did and so do you.

  5. rynato

    September 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to prove, other than confirmation bias.

  6. cygkju

    September 12, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Not only did the WTC buildings go down, but If I remember right building 5 went down also and it was never even hit

  7. Rob

    September 13, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Caught fire. No water to put it out. Steel cantilever design, massive open atrium at the front of the building all hanging off a pre existing substation at the back of the building. A wonder of architectural design not built to withstand more than three hours of fire.

  8. BO

    September 15, 2015 at 1:37 am

    sounds like the “researchers” are conspiracy nuts themselves! This article is nonsense!

  9. Steve

    December 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Could we maybe troll conspiracy pages with ACCURATE and NEW science? Just a thought. Maybe when we start to fill these people’s heads with enough actual and impressive realities, they’ll “get better” over time.

  10. dthfgh fhdfh

    December 17, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    No we don’t Sheri. Let’s face it, you are idiots. Some people just shouldn’t have internet access.

  11. Brooklyn Culture Jammers

    December 19, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    the study cited seems to be of random individuals within the ‘truther’ community. There are credentialed people who disbelieve the official story, including the people who’ve signed on to the petitions from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth. These people are different from the fringe believers cited in the survey.
    disbelieving the ‘official’ story of 9/11 does not mean someone is a conspiracy nut. The men and women of AE9/11 truth are risking their personal reputation in order to bring attention to the scientific gaps in the Commission’s story.

  12. Slartibartfast

    December 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Controlled demolition experts use the term “pull” when talking about causing a building to fall sideways by attaching steel cables to “pull” it. On the other hand, Larry Silverstein (in context) was referring to “pulling” the firefighters out of the building or “pulling” [the plug] on the efforts to save the building.

    Implying that this is evidence of controlled demolition is either ignorant or dishonest. All three buildings on 9/11 were damaged, weakened by fires and then collapsed due to gravity. Neither invisible explosives nor magic thermite was needed.

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