Web edition: August 13, 2009
Print edition: August 29, 2009; Vol.176 #5 (p. 31)
After achieving two degrees in psychology, I concluded that the field is largely bereft of genuine insight and simple common sense, and that it masquerades as a science, with notable exceptions here and there. Articles such as “Tracing the inner world of suspicion,” (SN: 6/20/09, p. 11) confirm and underline psychology’s essential mindlessness. For one thing, the investigators cited in the article contrived a spurious category: that there is a personality given to forming conspiracy theories, and they can be identified by certain traits (none of which, as it turns out, have anything to do with the reliability or the lack thereof of the sources of their information). Secondly, the investigators proceeded on the bogus assumption, unstated but implied, that our sources of information via the mainstream media are accurate and completely truthful. Ergo, conspiracy-theory thinking is somehow an affliction of some sort — what’s wrong with those people that they could think like this? This is but one small step from the use of psychology in Stalinist Russia to send dissidents to Siberia, declaring them insane. Sadly, the field of psychology is replete with this sort of ill-conceived claptrap.
David J. Zaido, Webster, Mass.
I found the article “Tracing the inner world of suspicion” uncomfortably close to politics. A scientific article illuminating a particular conspiracy theory, such as 9/11, is very appropriate for Science News. However, this article was aimed at conspiracy theorists in general and, by extension, all conspiracy theories. History is nothing more than the story of conspiracies, from the conspiracy to kill Caesar to Hitler’s takeover of Germany, to name a few.
Jacques Middlecoff, Boulder, Colo.
After reading Tom Siegfried’s wonderful article (“Infinity,” SN: 6/6/09, p. 26) on multiple universes and inflation theory, I was watching the carbonated bubbles appear in my beverage and wondered if the “entities” living in the film of those bubbles would have any understanding of the carbonation causing their universe to expand until it bursts or merges with another universe. Is our universe nothing more than a bubble in some cosmic beer mug?
Larry D. Rex, Santa Clara, Calif.