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Why do mass shootings spawn conspiracy theories?

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By Michael Rocque and Stephanie Kelley-Romano

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Gotta say there's a lot of woolly logic in this article.

Pointing to some nefarious plan by a powerful group – such as the government – can be more comforting than the idea that the attack was the result of a disturbed or mentally ill individual who obtained a firearm legally.

Really? I'd be far more concerned - less comforted - if I thought that my government - you know, the people with power - was actually organizing attacks on its own citizens for some nefarious reason. Random attacks by mentally disturbed individuals are a far more comprehensible and known phenomenon.

If the shootings are staged, or the results of an enormous, unknowable or mysterious effort, then they at least becomes somewhat comprehensible.

How can something "unknowable" and "mysterious" be at the same time "somewhat comprehensible" and therefore more comforting?

These ideas may seem implausible to most, but they do what conspiracy theories are intended to do: provide people with a sense of knowing and control.

What "control" can we possibly imagine we have if we choose to believe that unseen forces are waging war against us?

It seems to me that the vast majority of conspiracy theories, whether engendered by mass shootings or otherwise, are not intended to "comfort" the believer. They're more a poisonous cocktail of paranoia, politics, self-interest, lack of education and delusional thinking whose effect is to alienate the believer from the rational majority and to give him/her a feeling of superiority over the rest of us. Maybe that's the "comfort", right there.

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The country needs better gun laws. Lives Before Guns.

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It seems to me that the vast majority of conspiracy theories, whether engendered by mass shootings or otherwise, are not intended to "comfort" the believer. They're more a poisonous cocktail of paranoia, politics, self-interest, lack of education and delusional thinking whose effect is to alienate the believer from the rational majority and to give him/her a feeling of superiority over the rest of us. Maybe that's the "comfort", right there.

Well put. I find the idea that conspiracy theorists are people desperately looking to be regarded as intelligent very compelling. One thing I find about them is an inability to take a joke about their beliefs or to self-deprecate.

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Mass shootings and conspiracy theories have a long history. As far back as the mid-1990s, amid a spate of school shootings, Cutting Edge Ministries, a Christian fundamentalist website, found a supposed connection between the attacks and then-President Bill Clinton. The group’s website claimed that when lines were drawn between groups of school-shooting locations across the U.S., they crossed in Hope, Arkansas, Clinton’s hometown. The Cutting Edge Ministries concluded from this map that the “shootings were planned events, with the purpose of convincing enough Americans that guns are an evil that needs to be dealt with severely, thus allowing the federal government to achieve its Illuminist goal of seizing all weapons.”

Conservative personality Alex Jones recently failed to persuade the Texas Supreme Court to dismiss defamation and injury lawsuits against him by parents of children who were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Jones has, for years, claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t happen, saying “the whole thing was fake,” and alleging it happened at the behest of gun-control groups and complicit media outlets.

Fine examples of all that is wrong in the USA today.

However, there seems to be some hope:

Explicit and clear evaluation of evidence and sources – in headlines and TV subtitles – have helped keep news consumers alert. And pop-up prompts from Twitter and Facebook encourage users to read articles before reposting. These steps can work, as shown by the substantial drop in misinformation on Twitter following former President Donald Trump’s removal from the platform.

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Because paranoid people with less information, less access to resources and less cognitive ability refuse to accept the facts presented as because they choose to believe that they have the ability to do what institutions with more information, greater access to resources and superior cognitive ability can't. Some things never change. Remember the "grassy knoll" that Oswald fired from?

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In America we have that greedy shtieking imecile Wayne :LaPierre with his rumors and lies, and the sheep who listen to him. Just saying.

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