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SKEPTIC RESEARCH CENTER REPORT (PCIS-006)

Conspiracy Theory Endorsement by Media Viewership

Sixth report in the Paranormal & Conspiratorial Ideation Study (PCIS)

Cable news media in the United States has been playing to partisan audiences since at least the 1990s (Hollander, 2008). If conspiratorial thinking is sometimes partisan — as it seems to be given our prior reports on this topic — it is worth investigating whether cable news media viewership is itself associated with conspiracy belief. To do so, we divided our sample into those who reported watching CNN only (a politically left-skewed cable news channel) and those who reported watching Fox News only (a politically right-skewed cable news channel) and then asked the question: “Does cable news viewership impact conspiracy belief?”

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EPISODE # 267

Louis Theroux on Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO Cults, and Scientology

Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism and why people believe • UFO cults, end-times sects, and cognitive dissonance • Scientology: religion or cult? • neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism • prisons, pornography, and prostitution • Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile • self-help movements and gurus • deception and self-deception • social proof and human conformity • are humans naturally rational, irrational, or both?

Louis Theroux is a genre-defining documentary filmmaker best known for his explorations of controversial and complex topics. Using a gentle questioning style and an informal approach, Louis has shone light on intriguing beliefs, behaviors, and institutions by getting to know the people at the heart of them — from the officers and inmates at San Quentin prison to the extreme believers of the Westboro Baptist Church; from male porn performers in California to young women with eating disorders in London.

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