Cuyamaca College Fallacies Short Journal


Hello, I have linked all the information. Please PLEASE follow his journal guidelines. I attached the guidelines to his journal as well as the articles u should use and the links to the videos needed for the journal questions.

After watching the video on five fallacies, tell me which fallacy you have encountered most in your life (either you using them, a friend using them, or encountering people in politics/media using them). Which fallacy was the least familiar to you? How can recognizing these fallacies help you become a better critical thinker?
In your own words, what is the concept of information literacy? How can the 5 steps covered in the video help you in your life beyond college?
In your own words, what were the overall findings in the “Maybe a Free Thinker..” reading? Why do you think they found a different outcome for the subjective measure of critical Thinking vs the objective measure?
Most people will say they are critical thinkers if you ask them, but most people do not actually use critical thinking techniques in their discourse or decision-making. What do you think causes this disconnect between belief and action? Give an example of actions that demonstrate that a person is actually using critical thinking in their lives (make sure to incorporate concepts from the readings)?
What suggestions are given in the reading “To Combat Conspiracy Theories…” to combat the spread of misinformation? Do you think these suggestions could succeed? Why or why not?
What do you think are the 3 biggest social problems facing your community right now? For each, on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is easy and 10 is impossible), how hard do you think it would be to solve each problem?

Journal  Examples  
Here are sample answers to journal questions from my past classes. I have
provided you examples of strong samples and some that were problematic.
Remember, I am looking for answers that 1) illustrate that you have done the
reading and understand it 2) that you are thinking about and addressing the
topics in the question rather than just trying to quickly find the paragraph in the
reading quickly answers the question. Let us look at a question and then 4
different responses from my Soc 327 course.
Question 1
Do you think that the rationality of officer’s decisions can be influenced (as
suggested in the reading) or do you think ultimately police officers are
going to do what they want in the context of their departmental rules? Back
up your answer with the reading.
Example #1
I would have to say that police officers are going to do what they want in context
of their department rules. For example, on pg 68, they talk about how there a
desire to avoid the costs is involved in traditional criminal justice processing and
that arrests practices vary by jurisdiction. I would have to say that most police
officers won’t go out of their way if they know their jurisdictions aren’t primarily
focused on a general crime rate. I think most likely they could call the problem in
to have it transferred over to a jurisdiction but if they know their decision may
have alternatives to it, I would think that a police officer would try to avoid that
himself. I think any cop can be easily influenced, but in this day and age, the
world is slowly falling apart where a lot of things don’t matter anymore and I think
being a police officer right now is so difficult because of that. I’m sure every
police officer is biased to certain situations and it’s one job to act on it or not but I
would say they are more likely to link themselves to crimes and decision making
based on their jurisdiction and department rules. I think that’s the main reason
why the law enforcement has so many different branches that deals with specific
crimes and arrests even though it would be a better idea to be working together
which would bring us back to our reading last week where we see problems
within different types of law enforcement.
Notice how in this example, this student has stated their opinion and then backed
it up with examples. The answer is good since it shows that the students has
done the reading and thought about/explored the question. It is not about just
hunting through the readings for the answer, the assumption is that you have
done the entire reading and thought about your answer.
Example #2
I believe that police officers rationality will influence their decesion [sic] to arrest
an individual. It stated in the chapter that who the suspect is and how he or she
reacts to the police influences arrest decisions and the officers characteristics
may strongly influence individual arrest, meaning if the cop is having a
craptacular day he or she is going to make yours just as peachy as theirs
This second example is something I would mark down. Overall, it seems a little
rushed and does not show that the student has done the reading or engaged the
question. Perhaps the student did the reading, but how would I know? The
response is very surface level and something I could conceivably receive if I
stopped anyone on the street that had never taken a criminology class.
Question 2
Could police tactics that disproportionately focus on poor/minority
neighborhoods and the increased gap between spending on crime and
education actually cause more long term harm on society and outweigh the
good that results from the arrests of drug dealers in the short term?
Example #1
Without a doubt in most people’s mind there is more of a negative effect by
focusing on the short term arrests than trying to solve the real problems that face
the country. The previous question regarding this shift of concentration is only
another example of how the media can focus the attention on a matter that is a
relevant issue however not the most important. An example of this type of media
scare would be the recent swine flu epidemic that caused a huge scare, this then
lead to thousands of people purchasing vaccines and other precautionary items.
This type of shift in attention from education onto crime is just another example of
this type of propaganda where a certain group profits from the scare. I could
type several papers on different scare tactics that the government has utilized in
order to maximize profits in different sectors, in this case the lack of funding for
education causes more minorities to be incarcerated for smaller offences that
normally would have gone unnoticed or not penalized as harshly. From a
business perspective less black and Hispanic drug dealers on the streets would
cause the prices in drugs to rise, leading to even more people attempting to sell
the drugs. In no way am I advocating for drug dealing to go unpunished.
This is an example of a question that is asking students to think about the
question and give an opinion. Since it is not tied to any specific reading (rather
ideas we have been covering) there is no real need to reference a reading.
However, notice how this student uses examples and ties their opinion back to
other ideas in the course. I can tell this student has read the question and
thought about the ideas contained within the question. This answer shows
thought and effort and not just a rushed answer to finish the assignment
Example #2
Honestly, I do believe that the cycle of focusing on these communities brings
more generations of minorities into these opticon type imprisonments. I do not
believe I need to go into detail with this, so it is simply put: If you spend more on
education for children when they are young and prevent them from having
nowhere to go (i.e. gangs/family) they will have a better chance at being a good
Compare this answer to the amount of thought in example #1. Think about if you
were grading these journals for effort.
Question 3
According to Willams and Murphy how did changes made in the reform era
different effect minorities?
Example #1
According to pg. 38 – 39, the hardships of the blacks and minorities were
drastically not noticed. There was not much help for centralization of control for
the minorities and that it would be even hard to connect the opportunities of the
racial barrier. Because there was resentment against the laws, this made it even
harder for blacks and minorities to have an equal level with whites. But with all of
these setbacks, the benefit of it was that the reform era provided a marked
improvement in the delivery of professional police services (pg. 40), but even
with that, they did not have the law as a stepping stone as much as they had
hoped for.
Example 2
According to Williams and Murphy changes made in the reform era didn’t really
effect different minorities in a positive light at all. Women and other minorities
were still not represented in policing and African Americans more than any other
minority were mistreated and not given the same services as everyone else
including other minorities.
Do not think from the other examples, I am simply looking for length of response.
While it is true that most of the posts that get poor grades tend to be shorter, it
does not mean that all short posts are bad. Both of these examples are close in
length. But you will notice that example #1 is more efficient. It is not simply about
throwing in random citations; even without those the first example is specific
while the second is vague.
See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at:
Maybe a Free Thinker but not a Critical One: High Conspiracy Belief is
Associated With low Critical Thinking Ability
Preprint · January 2021
DOI: 10.31234/
4 authors:
Anthony Lantian
Bagneux Virginie
University Paris Nanterre
Université de Caen Normandie
Sylvain Delouvée
Nicolas Gauvrit
Université de Rennes 2
University of Lille Nord de France
Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:
Critical thinking View project
Representaciones Sociales de la violencia en jóvenes. En el marco de una comparación franco-mexicana View project
All content following this page was uploaded by Anthony Lantian on 06 January 2021.
The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
Maybe a Free Thinker but not a Critical One: High Conspiracy Belief is Associated
With low Critical Thinking Ability
(6 January 2021)
Uncorrected proof version: Forthcoming in Applied Cognitive Psychology
Anthony Lantian1, Virginie Bagneux2, Sylvain Delouvée3, and Nicolas Gauvrit4
Département de Psychologie, Laboratoire Parisien de Psychologie Sociale, UPL, Univ Paris
Université de Caen-Normandie, UNICAEN, LPCN, 14000 Caen
Univ Rennes, LP3C (Laboratoire de Psychologie : Cognition, Comportement,
Communication) – EA 1285, F-35000 Rennes
Université de Lille, INSPE Lille-Haut-de-France
Author Note
Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Anthony Lantian,
Département de Psychologie, Laboratoire Parisien de Psychologie Sociale, UPL, Univ. Paris
Nanterre, 200 avenue de la République, F-92001 Nanterre, France. Email:
This work was partly funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) project
CONSPIRACY (ANR-17-CE39-0010-01). The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
Acknowledgments: We thank Lyne Beljacques, Chloe Sussan-Molson, and Claire
Malié for their assistance.
Critical thinking is of paramount importance in our society. People regularly assume that critical
thinking is a way to reduce conspiracy belief, although the relationship between critical thinking
and conspiracy belief has never been tested. We conducted two studies (Study 1, N = 86; Study
2, N = 252), in which we found that critical thinking ability—measured by an open-ended test
emphasizing several areas of critical thinking ability in the context of argumentation—is
negatively associated with belief in conspiracy theories. Additionally, we did not find a
significant relationship between self-reported (subjective) critical thinking ability and
conspiracy belief. Our results support the idea that conspiracy believers have less developed
critical thinking ability and stimulate discussion about the possibility of reducing conspiracy
beliefs via the development of critical thinking.
Keywords: critical thinking, conspiracy belief, reasoning ability, argumentation
Maybe a Free Thinker but not a Critical One: High Conspiracy Belief is Associated
With Low Critical Thinking Ability
In the last few years, a number of training courses and tools specifically designed to
enhance critical thinking have been developed. Whereas these initiatives seem premature in
view of the current state of knowledge on this topic (Bronner et al., 2016), these resources are
assumed to be an effective way of reducing the spread of conspiracy theories and conspiracy
beliefs (Éduscol, 2019; Université de Paix asbl, 2017). An ethnographic fieldwork study
suggests that people from the Dutch conspiracy milieu depict themselves as “critical
freethinkers” (Harambam & Aupers, 2017). This finding may reflect the rhetoric of believers
in conspiracy theories glorifying the so-called critical thinking of individuals who subscribe to
these narratives (Konda, 2019, p. 7; Nairn, 2017, p. 20). Interestingly, this “rational
conspiracist hypothesis” (van Prooijen, 2019)—commonly attributed to conspiracy
believers—does not seem to be in line with reality. Indeed, when it comes to objective rather
than subjective critical thinking, a variety of indirect evidence suggests that conspiracy
believers are less likely to rely on a rational mindset (called “gullible conspiracist
hypothesis”, van Prooijen, 2019). Surprisingly, the link between critical thinking and belief in
conspiracy theories has never been directly tested.
Conspiracy theories refer to attempts to explain the ultimate cause of an important
event (social, political, climatic, etc.), by accusing a hidden coalition of perceived malicious
and powerful people or organizations of having secretly planned and implemented these
events (Butter & Knight, 2020; Douglas & Sutton, 2008; Keeley, 1999). In recent years, a
great deal of studies have examined the psychological underpinnings of belief in conspiracy
theories (Douglas & Sutton, 2018; Douglas et al., 2017, 2019), such as personality and
individual differences (Lantian et al., 2020), motivations and emotions (Douglas et al., 2020),
group processes (Biddlestone et al., 2020), diffusion (Bangerter et al., 2020), and socialcognitive processes (van Prooijen et al., 2020).
Among the cognitive skills potentially associated with conspiracy belief, results point
to the compatibility of certain forms of cognitive style with conspiratorial thinking. In
accordance with the gullible conspiracist hypothesis, several studies (Adam-Troian et al.,
2019; Barron et al., 2018; Georgiou et al., 2019; Ståhl & van Prooijen, 2018; Stojanov &
Halberstadt, 2019; Swami et al., 2014; van der Wal et al., 2018; van Prooijen, 2017; WagnerEgger et al., 2019) have pointed out that people who strongly believe in conspiracy theories
show a low level of analytic thinking (characterized as being slow, controlled, and resourcedemanding; Franssens & De Neys, 2009). Taking this further, eliciting analytic thinking
through different procedures causally decreases conspiracy beliefs (Studies 2-4, Swami et al.,
2014). Van Prooijen (2017) argues that analytical thinking could be an information processing
mechanism that mediates the negative association between educational level and belief in
conspiracy theories. The latter link has been established many times, although only in a
correlational way (e.g., Federico et al., 2018; Freeman & Bentall, 2017; Georgiou et al., 2019;
Mancosu et al., 2017; Oliver & Wood, 2014; Ståhl & van Prooijen, 2018; Uscinski & Parent,
2014; van Prooijen, 2017).
Research has refined the conditions under which cognitive constructs are related to
beliefs in conspiracy theories. According to Ståhl and van Prooijen (2018), analytic thinking
alone is not sufficient to distance individuals from conspiracy theories. Valuing epistemic
rationality (i.e., the motivation to form beliefs on rational grounds) is also necessary in order
to observe the negative association between analytic thinking and conspiracy belief. In their
first study, they found that among people with a higher tendency to rely on analytic thinking
(operationalized via a measure of analytic cognitive style and specified as a tendency to apply
analytic processing), only those who valued epistemic rationality believed less in conspiracy
theories. In their second study, this tendency to rely on analytic processing has been
distinguished from cognitive skills to process analytically (Ståhl & van Prooijen, 2018). The
authors found that when these two predictors are simultaneously taken into account in
addition to the valuation of the epistemic rationality, it is only the interaction between the
valuation of the epistemic rationality and cognitive skills (and not tendency to rely on analytic
thinking) that remained related to conspiracy belief (despite the failure to reach the
conventional level of significance). Adam-Troian et al. (2019) took a step forward by
focusing on the causal effect of rationality on the negative association between general
cognitive skills (measured by combining the cognitive reflection test [for details, see Primi et
al., 2016] and the Numeracy subtest of the Cognitive Ability task [for details, see Schwartz et
al., 1997]) and conspiracy belief. The researchers have strengthened the link between these
two variables by merely asking participants to answer a question about rationality (i.e.,
priming the concept of rationality) before completing all the other measures.
By considering in more detail different underlying aspects of general cognitive ability,
Jastrzębski and Chuderski (2017) did not find evidence of a significant relationship between
fluid intelligence (“the ability to solve novel problems by means of abstract reasoning”,
Jastrzębski & Chuderski, 2017, p. 2290) and conspiracy belief. Beyond criticisms of
measurement choices (for details, see Jastrzębski & Chuderski, 2017), the role of general
cognitive ability and more especially, reasoning ability, in conspiracy belief can be considered
as a controversial issue. To go beyond the establishment of a set of independent (or partially
interdependent) cognitive skills associated with conspiracy belief, and to investigate a more
integrative framework about this phenomenon, it is relevant to focus on critical thinking. This
construct is considered as a high-level thinking skill encompassing rationality, cognitive
skills, and analytic thinking, and it could actually be a better psychological construct for
understanding belief in conspiracy theories.
Among various definitions, critical thinking is defined as “reasonable, reflective
thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do” (Ennis, 1985, p. 45) and as “the
intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying,
analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by,
observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and
action” (Scriven & Paul [1987] for the Foundation for Critical Thinking). In a consensus
about multidimensionality of critical thinking, most researchers share the conception that a
“critical thinker” refers to the self-identity (Celuch et al., 2009) of someone who masters two
complementary dimensions of critical thinking: dispositions and abilities (Black, 2008;
Boisvert, 2015; Ennis, 1985; Facione, 2015; Halpern, 1999; Norris, 1989). While the
dispositional dimension of critical thinking refers to a person’s consistent internal motivation
to use critical thinking (Facione, 2000), the ability dimension of critical thinking refers to a set
of specific cognitive skills (e.g., analyzing argument, inference, etc.; Ennis, 1985). To
illustrate the large number of cognitive skills investigated in the literature, critical thinking
ability has been assessed (aimed at different target groups) through various formats, such as
multiple-choice tests (e.g., the California Critical Thinking Skills Test; Facione, 1990; the
Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment; Halpern, 2016) with or without written justifications,
and open-ended tests (Ennis, 1993; Ku, 2009). In line with the aim to understand belief in
conspiracy theories, the latter type of test and particularly the Ennis-Weir Essay Test
(EWCTET; Ennis & Weir, 1985) could be relevant for measuring critical thinking because it
requires the use of critical thinking ability in the context of argumentation.
When it comes to conspiracy theories, the capacity to appraise an argument, to
formulate an argument in response—to use critical thinking ability in the context of
argumentation—seems to be crucial. Indeed, the spread of conspiracy theories usually
involves exposure to a narrative that relies on a series of fallacious arguments (e.g., ad
populum, ad hominem, appeal to ignorance, circular reasoning; Bangerter et al., 2020;
Oswald, 2016; Young et al., 1990). According to Bronner (2013, 2020), the rhetoric process
whereby a believer in conspiracy theories tries to convince people is particularly convincing
because it overwhelms its recipient through multi-layered stacks of (weak) arguments. Critical
thinking ability provides the capacity to analyze and identify inferential relations (real or
voluntary) and implicit information in arguments, descriptions, or other types of
representations, to judge their credibility and make decisions in practical domains (Black,
2008; Boisvert, 2015; Facione, 2015).
Considering these different cognitive skills, critical thinking ability should
theoretically help individuals to distance themselves from suspect epistemological beliefs
such as conspiracy theories, via an accurate judgment of reliability and credibility of sources
(Kennedy et al., 1991). Blair (2012) illustrates the theoretical negative link between critical
thinking ability and conspiracy theories with a concrete case: the “Keegstra affair”. This affair
refers to a scandal in which a high-school teacher in Canada disseminated various antiSemitic conspiracy theories. According to Blair (2012), in principle, the exercise of students’
critical thinking ability (in this case, appropriate use of authorities and evidence, testing
hypotheses and considering alternative hypotheses, etc.) should lead them to the rejection of
these conspiracy theories. Overall, before attempting to reduce conspiracy beliefs through
critical thinking, it would first seem necessary to test the existence of the relationship between
critical thinking ability—measured by a test in a context or argumentation—and belief in
conspiracy theories. In line with the gullible conspiracist hypothesis, it leads us to formulate
the hypothesis of a negative association between conspiracy belief and critical thinking
Study 1
We preregistered our hypotheses, planned sample size, exclusion rules, and general
analytic strategy on Aspredicted ( We planned to
recruit 90 participants. This sample size allows us to detect an existing correlation of r = .29,
with power = .80 and α set to .05. The materials of this study, as well as the data and the
corresponding statistical code are publicly available and can be found at
In this study, “we report how we determined our sample size, all data
exclusions (if any), all manipulations, and all measures in the study” (Simmons et al., 2012, p.
Human Studies and Subjects
Despite the absence of legal requirements for going through an ethics committee for
non-interventional research outside of biological and medical development in France, we used
the ethical standards set by the Psychology Department that follows the American
Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA,
2017) for the ethical treatment of human participants in all our studies. Regarding participant
consent, for this study, participants gave their informed consent at the beginning of the
semester by enrolling in a course consisting of participating in a certain number of studies in
exchange for course credits.
We recruited 89 undergraduate psychology students from a French University (Mage =
18.82, SDage = 2.67, 86 females, 1 male, 1 unspecified) who participated in exchange for
course credits. Three participants were removed from the final sample because of too many
We discovered an unfortunate mistake in the formulation of our main hypothesis in our pre-registration
document. Instead of “We expect a positive relationship between belief in conspiracy theories and critical
thinking,” one should read: “We expect a negative relationship between belief in conspiracy theories and critical
missing answers on one of the two main measures (n = 2)2 or loss of the response sheet by
one of the judges (n = 1). The final sample was composed of 86 participants (Mage = 18.82,
SDage = 2.70, 84 females, 1 male, 1 unspecified).
Materials and Procedure
Participants were organized in groups of 20 in a classroom borrowed for this study
that was presented as a study on information processing and worldview. Participants were
instructed to complete a booklet containing our two main measures (i.e., belief in conspiracy
theories and critical thinking ability) in a counterbalanced order, followed by secondary
Conspiracy Belief Scale. We assessed belief in conspiracy theories with the Generic
Conspiracist Beliefs scale (GCB; Brotherton et al., 2013) validated in French (Lantian et al.,
2016). This is a 15-item scale (from 1 = Definitely not true to 5 = Definitely true) measuring
the general tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. This scale was deliberately constructed
in such a way as to avoid referring to known examples of conspiracy theories but only very
general ideas (e.g., “Certain significant events have been the result of the activity of a small
group who secretly manipulate world events”). Following the recommendations of several
researchers who express concerns about the lack of information on the psychometric qualities
of measures of belief in conspiracy theories (Atari et al., 2019; Goreis & Voracek, 2019;
Swami et al., 2017), exploratory and confirmatory factorial analyses were performed on this
scale. The presumed unidimensional nature of the scale was not empirically supported, but for
the sake of simplicity and given the common practice in this research field, in this section, we
report the results based only on the mean of all the items present in the GCB, as originally
intended (see the Appendix A for the main results reported by each sub-factor of conspiracy
Keeping these participants in the sample does not change the conclusions of this study.
belief). We averaged all the items to form a unique score, with a higher score corresponding
to higher conspiracy beliefs (α = .86).
Critical thinking Ability Test. We measured critical thinking ability with a French
version of the Ennis-Weir Critical thinking Essay Test (Ennis & Weir, 1985), edited
specifically for the study. The test consists of reading a letter to the editor of a fictional
newspaper. The writer of the letter argues in eight paragraphs in defense of the idea that
overnight parking should be prohibited in a specific area. The participants were asked to reply
to each paragraph by assessing and explaining the relevance (or not) of the arguments and for
the 9th paragraph, they reported their overall evaluation of the letter as a whole. They were
asked to write their responses in the format of a letter to the editor (in reply to the letter they
had to review). The test was scheduled to last a maximum of 40 minutes. Later, three judges
independently assessed the arguments provided by the participants, following the
recommendations of the test manual (for details, see Ennis & Weir, 1985). Briefly, the scoring
system emphasizes a list of critical thinking competence, such as getting the point, identifying
good arguments or assumptions, seeing other possibilities or explanations, avoiding
overgeneralization, irrelevance, equivocation, circular reasoning, and so on. Independent
judges applied specific criteria leading to the addition or subtraction of points for errors or
unspecified insights with the following scoring: participants justified adequately (+3),
justified semi-adequately (+2), judged correctly without justification (+1), made no response
(0), showed bad judgment in justifying or made incorrect judgment (-1). For example, in the
first paragraph of the letter, participants had to recognize an equivocation or shift in meaning
in the use of the word “garage” in the argument to obtain all the points (+3). To assess rater
reliability, we used Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC; Koo & Li, 2016; Shrout & Fleiss,
1979) with multiple-measurements (mean rating of 8 measurements), consistency-agreement,
2-way random-effects model. The ICC3 obtained between the three judges was 0.728, 95% CI
= [0.611, 0.814], indicating a moderate to good interrater reliability. Then, we averaged the
mean assessment score of the three judges to form a single score of critical thinking ability,
with a higher score meaning higher critical thinking ability (α = .73).
After completing the two measures, participants were asked if they believed that there
may be a link between belief in conspiracy theories and critical thinking ability (yes/no
answer), and if it was the case, to make a guess about the direction of this association. Finally,
we collected demographic information and participants could leave a free comment.
Participants were debriefed and thanked.
Confirmatory Analysis
As predicted by the gullible conspiracist hypothesis (see Figure 1), the higher people
scored on the critical thinking test (M = 3.61, SD = 4.54), the less they believed in conspiracy
theories (M = 2.77, SD = 0.69). This relationship approached significance, r(84) = -.20, p =
.064, 95% CI = [-.40, .01]. See the Appendix A for additional analyses, including a test of the
presence of an order effect.
In line with our prediction inspired by the gullible conspiracist hypothesis, results
showed a marginal negative association between critical thinking ability and conspiracy
beliefs. Although this result is encouraging, it needs to be replicated.
Returning to the rational conspiracist hypothesis, as previously stated, this hypothesis
could come more from a self-reported (subjective) critical thinking ability rather than a
measured (objective) critical thinking ability (assuming a lack of perfect relationship between
these two constructs). In any event, we still do not know whether these allegations of a high
This value was obtained by using the ‘irr’ package (v. 0.84.1; Gamer et al., 2012) in R (v. 3.6.1).
level of critical thinking based on reported speeches of a visible sub-population of conspiracy
believers (Harambam & Aupers, 2017; Konda, 2019; Nairn, 2017; Voogt, 2017) could be
generalized to a larger population of conspiracy believers. We will focus on this secondary
question in Study 2, with an additional measure of subjective critical thinking ability.
Figure 1
Relationship Between Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Critical Thinking Ability.
Note. Gray area around the regression slope corresponds to the 95% confidence interval.
Study 2
The two aims of Study 2 were to confirm the negative association between critical
thinking ability and the belief in conspiracy theories and to aim not to restrict this association
to students from one university and on the same academic level. To this end, we recruited a
larger sample of participants from two different universities. Our main expectation concerned
the negative link between conspiracy beliefs and critical thinking ability. Additionally, as we
relied on two sources of data collection (i.e., two universities), we planned to examine this
link while taking into account the university location.
One of our secondary hypotheses4 is in line with our question about the rational
conspiracist hypothesis. More explicitly, if the extracted sample from previously reported
statements (Harambam & Aupers, 2017; Konda, 2019; Nairn, 2017) are representative of
what conspiracy theorists actually think, then a positive linear relationship between beliefs in
conspiracy theories and self-reported (subjective) critical thinking ability can be observed. An
intriguing possibility is that people who strongly disbelieve in conspiracy theories, just as
those who believe in them, consider themselves to have better subjective critical thinking
ability than people with an average level of belief in conspiracy theories (forming a “mirror
effect”). For this reason, we intended to also test a curvilinear relationship between belief in
conspiracy theories and individuals’ self-reported (subjective) critical thinking ability.
We preregistered our hypotheses, planned sample size, exclusion rules, and general
analytic strategy on Aspredicted ( Based on the
effect size found in the previous study (r = .20), we aimed to recruit about 260 participants
(statistical power > .90, α = .05). As in Study 1, the materials, the data and the corresponding
Note that space limitations do not allow us to cover in this section other complementary hypotheses (relatively
less important at theoretical level) that we mentioned in the preregistration. These secondary analyses are
presented in the Appendix B.
statistical code are publicly available: Concerning the criteria of
exclusion set a priori, we decided to remove participants who had demonstrably spent an
unrealistically short time on the page on which the letter was displayed5.
For this study, 267 undergraduate psychology students from two French universities
(Mage = 21.74, SDage = 8.94, 222 women, 45 men, 1 unspecified) were recruited. According to
the criteria of exclusion set a priori, participants who spent too short a time on the reading of
the letter (n = 15) were removed from the sample. Although it was not anticipated in the
preregistration, we removed one participant because his/her answers were unrelated to the
task. The final sample was composed of 252 participants (Mage = 21.80, SDage = 9.18, 209
women, 42 men, 1 unspecified).
Materials and Procedure. The materials and procedure for Study 2 were the same as
Study 1 with three exceptions: (1) the task was presented on a computer rather than using
paper and pencil, (2) minor changes to the French version of the letter rectified certain
potential ambiguities, and (3) a measure of subjective critical thinking ability was added after
the measure of belief in conspiracy theories and critical thinking ability (presented in a
counterbalanced order).
As in Study 1, the internal reliabilities of both belief in conspiracy theories (α = .90,
see the Appendix B for more details on the psychometric properties of the scale) and critical
thinking ability (α = .93) were satisfactory. The ICC obtained between the four judges was
0.930, 95% CI = [0.915, 0.943], indicating excellent inter-rater reliability.
To measure participants’ self-reported (subjective) critical thinking ability, we created
three items (e.g., “I have good critical thinking ability”), including a reverse-coded item (from
1 = Strongly disagree to 7 = Totally agree). We averaged these three items to create a unique
The letter was 569 words long. Reading and understanding this letter in less than 46 s would mean reading
more than 700 words per minute.
score (α = .83), with a high score corresponding to a high subjective critical thinking ability.
As in Study 1, at the end of the procedure, we asked participants whether they believed that
there may be a link between conspiracy beliefs and critical thinking ability (yes/no answer),
and if this was the case, if they had any idea about the direction of this link. Finally,
participants were asked to provide their demographic information and they were free to leave
a comment in an open-ended section. Participants were debriefed and thanked.
Confirmatory Analyses
As expected (see Figure 2), we found a negative correlation between critical thinking
ability (M = 7.82, SD = 5.18) and belief in conspiracy theories (M = 2.71, SD = 0.81), r(250)
= -.18, p = .005, 95% CI = [-.05, -.29].
Following this test, we run a multiple regression analysis with belief in conspiracy
theories as the dependent variable and three predictors (critical thinking ability [meancentered], the university location [contrast-coded: -1/1], and the interaction between these two
variables)6. The university location did not significantly affect the negative relation between
our two key variables, t(248)
Purchase answer to see full

Order your essay today and save 15% with the discount code: VACCINE

Order a unique copy of this paper

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
Top Academic Writers Ready to Help
with Your Research Proposal