The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones:
"Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist."
Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility:
"The research… showed that people who favored the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals."
"For people who think 9/11 was a government conspiracy, the focus is not on promoting a specific rival theory, but in trying to debunk the official account."
Additionally, the study found that so-called conspiracists discuss historical context (such as viewing the JFK assassination as a precedent for 9/11) more than anti-conspiracists.
Both of these findings are amplified in the new book Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, published earlier this year by the University of Texas Press.
"The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time."
DeHaven-Smith also explains why those who doubt official explanations of high crimes are eager to discuss historical context. He points out that a very large number of conspiracy claims have turned out to be true, and that there appear to be strong relationships between many as-yet-unsolved "state crimes against democracy."
Psychologist Laurie Manwell of the University of Guelph agrees that the CIA-designed "conspiracy theory" label impedes cognitive function.
In the same issue of ABS, University of Buffalo professor Steven Hoffman adds that anti-conspiracy people are typically prey to strong "confirmation bias" - that is, they seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, while using irrational mechanisms (such as the "conspiracy theory" label) to avoid conflicting information.
The extreme irrationality of those who attack "conspiracy theories" has been ably exposed by Communications professors Ginna Husting and Martin Orr of Boise State University.
"If I call you a conspiracy theorist, it matters little whether you have actually claimed that a conspiracy exists or whether you have simply raised an issue that I would rather avoid…By labeling you, I strategically exclude you from the sphere where public speech, debate, and conflict occur."
No wonder the anti-conspiracy people are sounding more and more like a bunch of hostile, paranoid cranks.