Conspiracy beliefs and TV licences: ‘Turning off’ engagement

BBCAs blogged about previously, conspiracy theories are influential and exposure to such theories can influence both beliefs and behavioural intentions in a variety of domains. However, a recent news story caught my attention, as it clearly demonstrated a sense of detachment with legal requirements due to a conspiracy belief.

This news story related to a man who refused to pay his TV licence because he believed the BBC covered up facts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He commented that he did not want to give money to an organisation ‘funding practice of terrorism’.  This is particularly interesting, as it shows how such a belief can prevent a legal requirement being followed. Rather, a further development to the story relates to him admitting owning a TV and watching it without a licence, as he wanted to keep an eye on what the BBC was showing.


There can be a variety of reasons for the development of this conspiracy belief, and these have been discussed previously on this blog relating to other types of conspiracy theories (e.g., the monological belief system). However, I wanted to highlight this real world example, as previous empirical research has suggested that conspiracy theory beliefs can affect the societal engagement in several domains. For example, focus groups have shown that parents are reluctant to immunize their children due to endorsing conspiracy theories. This indicates the detrimental effects that may be elicited by endorsing conspiracy beliefs, which has already been discussed in several previous blog posts (e.g., concerning HIV/AIDs conspiracies), and now shown here in this intriguing example.

There are a variety of ways a conspiracy belief can influence a person’s thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.  This example clearly demonstrates one way this can, arguably, negatively influence a person’s societal engagement. Whilst there is still room for empirical research to be carried out to further explore the consequences of conspiracy endorsement, real world examples like these suggest a compelling tale.

This entry was posted in 9/11, Social psychology, What's the harm and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Conspiracy beliefs and TV licences: ‘Turning off’ engagement

  1. Abandon TV says:

    Some basic questions inspired by your post…

    1. Throughout history has the media ever been used to spread lies and/ or promoting propaganda favourable to those in power?

    2. If someone suspected they had strong evidence that the BBC (or any media organisation) was guilty of promoting dangerous lies and covering up a horrific crime (either through incompetence or complicity) is it their moral obligation to speak out, or is it their moral obligation to say and do nothing?

    3. If someone objects to the BBC’s output so strongly (and on moral / lawful grounds) that they feel they must withhold their license fee are YOU prepared (in a moral sense) to personally go round their house and threaten them with kidnapping and being put inside a cage until they pay up? If not then you CANNOT honestly say you are in favour of them being forced to pay the license fee against their will.

    4. The BBC is not subject to ordinary market forces because it funds itself using intimidation and coercion (the initiation of force) against the British public. What is the difference between someone cancelling their subscription to a newspaper because they consider it to be pedalling dangerous and destructive lies and someone refusing to pay their license fee because they consider it to be pedalling dangerous and destructive lies? Surely the person is acting the same way in each case and so his actions cannot be regarded as acceptable on the one hand and yet unacceptable on the other? Surely it MUST be the BBC which is at fault here because they are the ones who are *initiating force* (threats, intimidation, violence) against another person to make them do things against their will?

    5. How would YOU suggest someone sends a clear message to the BBC (and to the public) that the BBC is involved in a criminal cover up – if not by speaking out and withholding their ‘license fee’? Is it not more important to focus on the issue itself (the allegations) rather than the method used to bring these to the public’s attention and the attention of the courts? After all, he has caused no damage and threatened nobody. He is acting in a civilised manner, is he not?

    6. Do you understand the *legal basis* for the man’s withholding of his funding? (you fail to mention it in your post). The man is basically saying that under current anti terrorism laws it would be a CRIME for him to knowingly fund a terrorist (promoting) organisation. Obviously the man believes he has evidence that the BBC has been helping to cover up 9/11. That is a serious allegation, as I’m sure you will agree, and as such it deserves to be taken seriously – wouldn’t you say?

    By dismissing it as ‘conspiracy belief’ you are asserting yourself to have the authority of investigator, judge and jury. Why? Do you seriously believe you are qualified (or have the right) to pass judgement on these allegations? Surely that should be the task of a proper criminal investigation? (not an internet blogger!)

    Suppose it was a woman who was withholding her funding saying she had evidence that the BBC had covered up key evidence relating to a rape case involving her daughter. Would you automatically dismiss her with this dismissive term ‘conspiracy beliefs’? Would you insist she be FORCED to just shut up and carry on funding the BBC?

    Surely ALL allegations of extreme criminal behaviour deserve to be treated with equally seriousness? Or do you disagree?

  2. ihatenexus2013 says:

    Nexus magazine is published by New Era Publications, a Church of Scientology-owned company.
    New Era Publications publishes Dianetics and other Scientologist propaganda.
    Duncan Roads is a Scientologist who is married to a Scientologist.
    Duncan Roads is a propaganda puppet for Scientology.
    Duncan Roads is a fraud, a liar and a traitor.

    • hybridrogue1 says:

      Maybe … but Duncan Roads is not a traitor to Scientology. Now is he? No but perhaps to the donuts that found no java to be dunked into forthwith as per gallon. And because lower than behold!!! Tahdah …. Dunky wuz ondah road!!!
      Har har har … ya know whut I mean??? Get yerself a gawldern burberry handbag to carry your fresh donuts next time – and stop yer bitchin’!

  3. can thank Ron Case, the athletic director, and Brian Rowan enough for giving me a shot

    • hybridrogue1 says:

      Hmm..??? What caliber of weapon does it take to penetrate a burberry handbag?? Does it really take just one shot to put one down? Have you ever tasted a raw burberry? Have you ever tasted Ron? Or rowed Brian’s boat?
      Come clean here and you get a certificate of sound mental health!

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