Alex Jones and the “Monological Belief System”


In the recent weeks following the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting, we have seen many different viewpoints expressed regarding the fiercely debated issue of US gun control. In particular, one of the most controversial and volatile interviews came from CNN’s Piers Morgan, who invited conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to discuss gun control, and a petition to get Morgan deported from the US for attacking the 2nd Amendment.

The interview revealed some interesting insight into the types of conspiracy that Jones propagates. As one of the (self-proclaimed) founders of the 9/11 truth movement, Jones broadcasts a radio show syndicated to over 100 stations across the US, and boasts over a million and a half listeners. In his show and associated website, infowars.com, he discusses a vast array of theories ranging from governments tracking citizens with microchips and raw milk controversies, to Bin Laden’s faked assassination and more traditional 9/11 conspiracies.

Watching the interview, it demonstrated how often political and conspiracy ideology overlap, and it could be argued that conspiratorial ideas are a form of political process, especially from those who consider themselves alienated or deserted by the traditional political methods. Consider the ‘Birther’ movement that suggests Barack Obama was not born in the US and thus cannot legally assume the position of President. People unhappy with the original political outcome (the election) could feel exposed or betrayed, and thus turn to alternatives. This also helps to explain why a substantial amount of conspiracies have government at their heart, with their participation (or inaction) key to many of the world’s injustices.

In the fifteen minutes Jones has on air with Morgan, we see a perfect example of what psychologists have termed a ‘monological belief system’. This is the where an individual can build and maintain a view of the world that is ruled by conspiracies, they are seen everywhere and anywhere, and explain many of the surprising, uncontrollable, or deadly events that happen. As this system develops, people become closed-off and reluctant to believe in alternative explanations, spotting conspiracies in increasing amounts of events and situations.

This system has been demonstrated by research that suggests that belief in one particular conspiracy theory strongly predicts belief in others, even unrelated or contradictory ones. These views are not driven necessarily by theories supporting each other, but instead a general overarching belief that supports conspiracy in general.

With this belief, it is not necessarily the specifics of a conspiracy that are important (often in sensitive cases such as mass shootings conspiracists “just ask questions”), but the fact that the perpetrators are lying, covering up, or misleading the public. This motivation to uncover deception leads to performances such as Jones’, who in his interview mentions between 8 and 12 distinct conspiracies, not all overlapping. These include:

a.    Megabanks either control the world already or are about to seize control in order to enact global tyranny
b.    Loose theories around large media groups controlling what is revealed to the public, including the Bloomberg group /AP/Reuters
c.     US Government plans to oppress the people once guns are removed
d.    Prozac and other ‘Mass murder/suicide pills’ responsible for mass shootings
e.    The UK as a police state
f.     Morgan (and others at CNN) are ‘Hatchet men’ of the NWO
g.    First person shooter style video games responsible for mass shootings
h.    Most of the recent mass shootings are false flag events setup by  government to control the population
i.      More specific conspiracies surrounding Building 7 (WTC attacks)
j.      “Criminal elements of the military-industry complex” responsible for 9/11
k.    Other general false flag conspiracies through history including Gulf of Tonkin, Operation Gladio and the Reichstag fire.

American politics in particular suffers from a underlying amount of paranoia, and Mike in his recent article discussed how any mass shooting is politicised by default because of the thorny issue of gun control. The leap, however, in taking a set of tragic shocking circumstances, and maintaining that it was orchestrated for a more sinister purpose, is difficult for some to comprehend.

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About Christopher Thresher-Andrews

Christopher is a PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer for the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, studying conspiracy belief and persecutory delusions. The aim of his research is to explore possible psychopathological links to conspiracy belief, and also to place conspiracy theories into a wider political and social context. He is ThresherX on Twitter.
This entry was posted in Social psychology, World events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Alex Jones and the “Monological Belief System”

  1. shawn poland says:

    its been proven that the majority of these violent incidents in america today are perpetrated by people on big pharma mind screw drugs! i can cite several personal examples, people i know in person, whos lives were ruined by zoloft alone! your obviously just a tool of the system! banks did fund both sides of hitlers war. granddaddy bush and others were totally involved in it. all you serve to do is make your profession look more foolish than it already is! what IS always wins over what FEELS!

    • Linus says:

      Maybe they were on drugs because they were ill? You sound like a sheep Shawn. A person who regurgitates all that you hear and read online which confirms what you already believe.

    • “its been proven that the majority of these violent incidents in america today are perpetrated by people on big pharma mind screw drugs!”

      No it has not. Since evidence would require medical records and all blood reports to be made available of each individual. Medical records are private and you don’t have access to those kind of matters. Plus how can you prove that because someone is prescribed medical drugs that they are taking them ? The very act of them not taking the drugs could have been the trigger to their actions. How can you prove otherwise ?

      ” i can cite several personal examples, people i know in person, whos lives were ruined by zoloft alone! ”

      It is sad you know people whose lives have been ruined, but in all honesty your anecdotal evidence does nothing to convince anyone.

      • G says:

        Also useful when replying to people such as Shawn: The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

        Much of the willingness to believe in CT consists of an emotion of persecution and an unusually high level of “personification.” One potential test for personification is to provide a set of random stimuli similar to inkblots, and count the number of “I see a person” reports compared to “I see (something other than a person)” reports. Hypothesis: CTers will show a significantly larger quantity of “seeing persons in random stimuli” than non-CTers. Count ’em up, take the mean, the SD, and apply one-tailed T-test. (I’m an unabashed statistical frequentist;-)

        For extra fun, run the same test after exposure to a) emotionally neutral to positive stimuli such as beautiful pictures of nature, and b) emotionally loaded to negative stimuli such as scary (but not graphically violent, that would be a confound) pictures of terrorist attack aftermath.

      • heurist says:

        Your effort at debunking the planned demolition of WTC7 is a big fail.

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  4. heurist says:

    Reblogged this on Heurist.me (Carey G. Butler) and commented:
    In dominance holarchies the elitism actually causes the rest of the
    population to evolve beyond them into a new holarchy where their ‘weakness’ is known, accepted and put in its place (goes into a slumber). Then the whole process begins a new rung in the spiral dynamic of evolution.

  5. heurist says:

    Your article is unfortunately very naive on many points: from your subscription to the psychology of monology to an absolute ignorance of the situation humanity find itself in. I urge you to begin to reexamine the philosophy and the philosophers themselves upon whose theories you base your world views. In short: you need a wakeup call.

  6. Wow, fun comments on this piece 🙂

    Amusingly there are a lot of conspiracy theorists who seem to believe that Alex Jones is a CIA disinformation agent. See http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread915857/pg1 & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqNKUvCQFok for instance.

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  10. G says:

    To play devil’s advocate here: that list of beliefs (a) through (k) includes some items that are testable and some that are not. I’m inclined to believe that untestable / unfalsifiable beliefs are more likely to be CT and less likely to be “opinion” or even “ideology-speak.”

    For example all the “coming global tyranny” stuff is untestable since it concerns an event that would occur in the future, for which there is no test in the present. But the association between video games and violence is testable in the same manner as hypotheses about violent media and aggressive behavior in general. And language such as “megabanks” and “criminal elements” is found in non-CT opinion across the range of mainstream media sources, so it can be dismissed as ideology-speak.

    In order to qualify as CT, we have to operationalize it in a manner that doesn’t generate false positives. (I would say it’s better to generate false negatives, to ensure that the positives you get are definitive.) By definition, a conspiracy involves a group of people acting in a highly organized manner to achieve a shared goal that entails harm to others as a direct or indirect effect. This obviously includes conventional criminal conspiracies such as “members of the XYZ gang conspired to smuggle cocaine into the country.” It becomes CT when it’s unfalsifiable and when it’s accompanied by obvious signs of feelings of persecution, paranoia, or hatred of identified demographic groups; all the more so when it involves explanatory mechanisms that contradict known data (e.g. “there were hidden explosives planted throughout the WTC buildings”).

    And the reason why belief in any given CT correlates with belief in more than one CT, is that all of them have the same emotional substrate. When a person is under the influence of an emotion, it affects all of their cognition until it wears off. For CT, the paranoia becomes self-reinforcing, and then generalizes from one event to the next, and the comfort offered by the “explanation” also generalizes from one event to the next. Thus, the progression from “feel scared” to “believe in a CT” to “feel better” becomes a learned response that the individual applies to new events.

    • hybridrogue1 says:

      “For example all the “coming global tyranny” stuff is untestable since it concerns an event that would occur in the future…”~G

      Well then how about the present global tyranny of Full Spectrum Dominance by the so-called “American Empire”?
      What about the arc of probabilities due to momentum?

      The biggest problem here is that so many people are under the influence of the mainstream Public Relations Regime and do not see the actual situation of the present.
      What is not tyrannical about the Homeland Security State that has effectively cancelled the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the US?
      {You may be at a disadvantage if you are not an Amerikan and do not understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights intimately as I happen to..}
      Is recognizing such fact a “conspiracy theory”? How do you define a ‘police state’ if the current events in the US are honestly considered?
      Executive Privilege and Executive War Powers are the key to grasping that the Constitution is null and void in modern Amerika {this is why the use of the ‘K’ supplanting the ‘C’}. It is simply no theory that the sitting syndicate in DC is constitutionally ultra vires.
      It is no theory that the US is a militarized garrison state bent on world conquest. One really does have to be asleep not to grasp this.

      Those here who would rather twiddle their thumbs playing at psychological theorizing while having a small grasp on history and even current events are far from qualified to slur critical thinkers who pay close attention to such matters and details.

      “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”~Santayana
      \\][//

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  13. cj says:

    Im just curious, what if I want “they” “them” to take over the world, by all accounts “they” seem alot smarter than us, and has no one read the stuff on agentic mind frames (agency), such as the now well known mental illness that is the belief in an “overwhelming power, supernatural or man made, that directly controls all aspects of ones life” i have read that CT belief is in fact this very mental illness, same is but not limited to (aliens populate or control our planet, gods devils demons angels and ghosts, overpowering human entities “megabanks”, pseudoscience, cryptozoology, karma, feng shui, telepathy. etc.) I have read that these belief systems are necessary for early child development, as a child doesn’t need to know “why” only that mom says so (child MUST believe that parents control them for a positive parent child relationship). However as we grow up we realize that we cant just “pray, hope” for an apple to fall out of the sky when we are hungry because then of course these agentic beliefs in reality would hinder our survival in the natural world, therefore most early adults would need to shake off this agentic belief, that higher powers controlled their every activity, or they would simply die, not being able to adapt to their environment.

    Understandably so, the rain dance does not bring rain on demand.

    I have read that 99% of all successful “scientists” are atheist, which would make sense on the grounds that, how could one use the scientific theorem if one had to always account for some variable being “the hand of god” or “government cover up”. Point is you really cant be objective, or open minded (term used by both sides of argument) if you are always “seeing” evidence in places that it might not really be.

    A discussion I had recently with a friend who does believe in CT broke down into a heated argument, stating that all the evidence I produced to support non CT belief was in fact “faked, false, fabricated” specifically for people like me (the sheep).

    I realized that you cannot offer the agentic mind frame ANY evidence to its own falsehood, as the mind will simply turn that very evidence of non CT, into concrete CT proof. Now i am not saying that all CT believers cant have their beliefs changed simply with words, its just that to me, this all sounds remarkably akin to trying to explain to a Schizophrenia patient that the sounds they are hearing are not real. To the patient with the mental illness, what they experience is real, to them.

    I would also like to mention that ignorance can very easily be seen as an agentic mind frame, but also being ignorant alone cannot contribute to the acquisition of the agentic belief. Example of this would be a poor third world farmer. Said farmer may very well believe in god due to his ignorance, however, this same farmer would understand also that praying to god alone does not bring good crops, one still must tend his fields. So he in essence dose not have a mental illness, because his belief in god does no negatively impact his ability to raise crops.

    mental illness is a slippery slope these days, we have come to realize that mental illness is much more prevalent in our societies then we knew, and also that the degree and severity of a mental illness can drastically differ. Given that we are human beings and that we strive to give our selves every possible advantage, it is not only possible, but obvious, that mentally ill people can function in our society with out any evidence to their illness. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that not all mental illness, looks like mental illness.

    Ironically, the possibility of actual CT is relevant. Social engineering is a normal and accepted part of government (tax breaks for non smokers, parents, and career workers) to encourage the growth of a particular “type” of tax payer. Should we be on guard for the possibility of an “evil social engineering project”? The answer is yes, but that is in fact what many people around the world work towards every day.

    In closing I would like to say that we need more work on the understanding of mental illness, and continue as we already are towards a free, transparent operation of social issues. nothing is perfect, and yes we are surrounded by many lies, but i see a brighter future, just on the horizon.

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