EXCLUSIVE: DOJ-Funded Study To Highlight Who Spews Violent Language Online, And It Isn’t Conspiracy Theorists


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A Department of Justice-funded (DOJ) study, currently being conducted by a professor at Youngstown State University (YSU), found little to no correlation between fans of fun “conspiracy theories” and “violent” language, despite some people’s ridiculous opinions.

When I first learned of the research being conducted by YSU professor Richard Lee Rogers, I went into panic mode. I was wrongly led to believe that the DOJ was funding research into people who like conspiracy theories like UFOs and Bigfoot in an attempt to brand them as “violent extremists” and possible “domestic terrorists.” But after speaking at length with Rogers, it turns out his data could prove that fans of so-called “fringe” ideas are far less threatening than many journalists and oligarchs of academia seem to believe.

Rogers has a general interest in the fun side of conspiracy theories, even if he is a mild skeptic (like me). He was looking for a new project focused on these interests when he came across a funding opportunity based on the “Research and Evaluation on Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism” by the DOJ. So he submitted a proposal, and the funding was awarded. 

Using existing public online forums, like websites, social media, and message boards, Rogers’ research aims to explore whether there is any correlation between the language used by “fringe communities” (i.e., people) who talk about “conspiracy theories” like Bigfoot, UFOs, etc, and the use of “violent language” online.

“I see no evidence so far that fringe communities breed violence in isolation of other factors,” Rogers told the Daily Caller, following one of the best conversations I’ve had with an academic in years. In layman’s terms: If you’re a fan of fun conspiracy theories and write about them online, then you’re probably not a violent, dangerous nutter who posts hate on message boards.

Rogers is still in the dawning process of untangling much of the terminology throughout his three-year project, so it’s important to clarify precisely what he means. Terms like “fringe” and “conspiracy” are probably used too loosely throughout the work thus far, he explained.

For example, he used terms like “pseudo-archaeology” to describe the work of people like Graham Hancock, while pointing out that Hancock has often been well ahead of the curve on many theories of our ancient past. “Just based on the preliminary stuff, I already know that Hancock’s forum will score below the mainstream benchmarks on violent language,” Rogers continued. (RELATED: ‘She Cheated Me’: Ex-Administrator Responds To Harvard President’s Alleged Plagiarism)

“Fringe” is also a blanket term Rogers used to describe the “pseudo-science” of flat-Earthers (a fair assessment) and paranormal investigations. “These appear to be harmless except in cases when viewing Giorgio Tsoukalos’ hair causes insanity,” he joked.

Most non-academics, or former academics who’ve never studied qualitative information, might find it hard to wrap their heads around the data and analysis of studies like this. Many people will see the words: “DOJ-funded,” “conspiracy theories,” “misinformation” and “domestic extremism” in a row and assume the worst.

And most academics are limited in their exploration of “conspiracy theories” and “fringe communities” because there aren’t many existing protocols or foundations to base their research upon. There’s Abbie Richard’s “Conspiracy Chart,” which provides a somewhat biased view of “harmless” and “non-harmless” ideas shared online.

Rogers is really redefining the field. And he’s testing to see where, if in any place, these things are linked.

He argues there’s a big difference between “fringe communities” and those spreading conspiracies more linked to what he currently calls “misinformation” within his research. “Conspiracy theories like antisemitism and New World Order conspiracy theories are more problematic and some of these use violent language,” Rogers continued.

I also asked Rogers about the World Economic Forum (WEF), and whether there’s a correlation between people who post about the organization and whether the same demographics use “violent language.” His answer might surprise you. (RELATED: Mystery Surrounds Sudden Firing Of Notable Archaeologist. What Was He Digging Up?)

“I don’t know if WEF discourse itself is violent — I’ve not checked and there’s nothing exclusively WEF in the study — but obviously Klaus Schwab promotes ideas that I define as extreme because they are outside of the boundaries of normal democratic political discourse, even if the language that Schwab uses does not code violent,” he replied. But it turns out that “some sympathetic ‘extreme left’ (bad choice of words?) channels do score high on violent language.”

With all of this data piling up, is there any real-world action that could stem from Rogers’ analysis? (RELATED: It’s Been Months And No One Can Disprove This Shocking Morgan Wallen Conspiracy Theory)

No, not unless a bad actor at the DOJ, some political organization, or an idiot with a “publish button,” manipulates the data to target specific demographics — which no one should be able to do since this article mitigates any potential future malarkey. And by malarkey, I mean censorship of ideas that fall outside the norm of academics.

Does it look bad that the DOJ seems like it’s funding research into this stuff? Sure, but only at face level. When you dig even slightly below the surface, not only do we find the data is (a) pretty much inconsequential as it applies to action that can be taken, but (b) vindicates those who like to learn stuff about the paranormal and “fringe” sciences and talk about it with their friends online.