Home Concepts Decison Making & Problem Solving The Crises of Expertise and Belief: Sample Chapter

The Crises of Expertise and Belief: Sample Chapter

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Perhaps, it is a matter of words being said rather than beliefs held or even actions taken. In many small ways, the antisemite or believer in conspiracies who is educated and has some power will make decisions and enact policies that do real damage. Words might not harm those who are in the minority; however, they are often victims of various forms of “micro-aggressions.” This might be ignoring someone’s opinion in a meeting or simply failing to remember their name but remembering their skin color. These micro-aggressions can do real accumulative harm–as can “macro-aggressions” (such as facing housing or job discrimination).

Conspiracy belief and pathology

Van Prooijen believes that it is a mistake to dismiss belief in conspiracy theories as “pathological.” However, recent research suggests the opposite. Research conducted by Enders and his associates (Enders, et. al., 2022), suggests a link between conspiracy theory believers and anti-social personality disorder:

The public endorsement of conspiracy theories and misinformation by prominent trusted leaders may connect anti-social, conflictual people to those ideas, subsequently motivating them to act… Some conspiracy theories appeal to people who have anti-social and nonnormative traits and who exhibit anti-social behaviors. This might explain why it is so difficult to ‘correct’ some people’s conspiracy theory beliefs: those people are not open to correction or negotiation.

This is an important finding in the sense that the estimated number of people afflicted with anti-social personality disorder range from over 3% of the US population to over 70% of certain subgroups (for example, males with alcohol use disorders and substance abusers). Symptoms of this disorder are quite serious. As noted by the Mayo Clinic (2022) this disorder is to be found among people who tend to manifest the following:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violations of rules

Clearly, these are potentially troubled and dangerous people who require help. However, leaders and experts with nefarious intent can more readily influence individuals with conspiracy-leaning traits. These disturbed men and women not only believe conspiracy fabrications, they also tend to take actions that injure others and ultimately themselves. Put together, pathology and conspiracy beliefs make for a “perfect storm.”

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