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Conspiracy theory prevention

Old 05-18-20, 04:49 PM
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RubeRad
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Conspiracy theory prevention

This is a good (and not too long) article from The Atlantic about how to talk to people who are at risk of coronavirus-based conpiracy theories:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/a...piracy/611464/

You might also try, when having conversations with other friends and family members, to preempt any curiosity they may have about Plandemicor its ilk by warning them about the existence of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. “People need to be prepared to resist harmful persuasion,” Banas said, “just like our bodies need to be prepared to resist harmful viruses.”
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Old 05-18-20, 05:21 PM
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Probably the single most effective thing is to remind people that even if somehow the crazy idea proves to be true, it doesn't really get us anywhere in terms of overcoming the disease.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:53 PM
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To prevent conspiracy theories, stay off social media. Especially facebook.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:00 PM
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I'm too old to be as polite as they suggest. Fortunately, I don't have any friends promoting nonsense.
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Old 05-19-20, 03:19 AM
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
To prevent conspiracy theories, stay off social media. Especially facebook.
Conspiracy theories are everywhere...To prevent your mind getting confused or influenced by conspiracy theories you may as well stop going on internet including youtube and bikeforums...and don't forget news media who is notorious for posting misinformation.
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Old 05-19-20, 03:33 AM
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Or you could just apply very basic critical thinking skills.

One remarkably illuminating test is to just ask "under what conditions would the proponent accept that their theory is refuted by the facts?"

If there aren't any such conditions (meaning the theory can "explain" any set of contradictory explanations, and is therefore untestable), then you know you are dealing with a vacuous claim.
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Old 05-19-20, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Conspiracy theories are everywhere...To prevent your mind getting confused or influenced by conspiracy theories you may as well stop going on internet including youtube and bikeforums...and don't forget news media who is notorious for posting misinformation.
ok.
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Old 05-19-20, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Conspiracy theories are everywhere...To prevent your mind getting confused or influenced by conspiracy theories you may as well stop going on internet including youtube and bikeforums...and don't forget news media who is notorious for posting misinformation.
There have been a few on bikeforums, I agree, but other forums and other social media are worse.

We have access to almost all of human knowldedge in a few seconds from a little device we carry in our pockets, and the same little device promotes the most heinous and harmful misinformation and disinformation. It is presented in such a way that that it appeals to our emotions and spreads, well, like a virus, when it could be halted in its tracks by a little critical thinking.
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Old 05-19-20, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Or you could just apply very basic critical thinking skills.

One remarkably illuminating test is to just ask "under what conditions would the proponent accept that their theory is refuted by the facts?"

If there aren't any such conditions (meaning the theory can "explain" any set of contradictory explanations, and is therefore untestable), then you know you are dealing with a vacuous claim.
This. Have a working BS meter, and take advantage of the internet to find legitimate sources of information to investigate for yourself.
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Old 05-19-20, 10:01 AM
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I think there are some very good points in the article though; defeating conspiracy theories is much less about attacking with logic, than drawing out with empathy. An attack only drives someone further into their bunker.

That and, the hardcore are just not persuadable. The same point is made by the great little book Conspiracy Theories by Qassim Cassam. (He has an article-length version of basically that same stuff out there somewhere too)

You have to cut your losses with the already-persuaded, and target the curious or considering.
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Old 05-19-20, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I think there are some very good points in the article though; defeating conspiracy theories is much less about attacking with logic, than drawing out with empathy. An attack only drives someone further into their bunker.

That and, the hardcore are just not persuadable. The same point is made by the great little book Conspiracy Theories by Qassim Cassam. (He has an article-length version of basically that same stuff out there somewhere too)


...good book. A conspiracy theory is just a mass movement in search of a populist orator.
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Old 05-19-20, 10:38 AM
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Yes, my son read that book, and I read the first 10-20 pages before he gave it back to who loaned it to him. What I read was remarkably insightful
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Old 05-19-20, 10:44 AM
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The article never even defines what it considers “a conspiracy theory”. Nor does anyone this thread. Are people supposed to just automatically know something fits that description?

Reading between the lines, I assume (the article) probably means, “facts that go against the current prevailing mass media version of events, as it’s being presented right now, not a year or 2 months ago. What we said just a minute ago.”

If that’s the definition, I have news for you, the big media outlets are wrong all the time, about almost everything. I wouldn’t trust them with my health, not in a million years! Especially with something that’s been so politicized.
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Old 05-19-20, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
The article never even defines what it considers “a conspiracy theory”. Nor does anyone this thread.
...the following is an excellent example of a conspiracy theory. Of course there are many others. I like them, and have a personal collection.

Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Reading between the lines, I assume (the article) probably means, “facts that go against the current prevailing mass media version of events, as it’s being presented right now, not a year or 2 months ago. What we said just a minute ago.”

If that’s the definition, I have news for you, the big media outlets are wrong all the time, about almost everything. I wouldn’t trust them with my health, not in a million years! Especially with something that’s been so politicized.
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Old 05-19-20, 11:46 AM
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The Qassim Cassam book I cited above has a useful definition of Conspiracy Theory. I will look it up and post it.
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Old 05-19-20, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post


...good book. A conspiracy theory is just a mass movement in search of a populist orator.
I read that book. Hoffer knows his mass movements. Good book, especially right now.
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Old 05-19-20, 08:02 PM
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In the long run conspiracy theories can be defeated with sterilization
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Old 05-19-20, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
The article never even defines what it considers “a conspiracy theory”. Nor does anyone this thread. Are people supposed to just automatically know something fits that description?

Reading between the lines, I assume (the article) probably means, “facts that go against the current prevailing mass media version of events, as it’s being presented right now, not a year or 2 months ago. What we said just a minute ago.”

If that’s the definition, I have news for you, the big media outlets are wrong all the time, about almost everything. I wouldn’t trust them with my health, not in a million years! Especially with something that’s been so politicized.
An alternative explanation of reality that involves a small cadre of elites conspiring to pull the wool over the public's eyes for nefarious reasons, and only a small ingroup that knows about it.

Kind of like how you and I know the lamestream media always says the opposite of what's true.

Generally (but not always) if a few dozen people are involved in the conspiracy, it's probably not true. Groups of people aren't very good at keeping secrets.
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Old 05-20-20, 07:16 AM
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How the ‘Plandemic’ Movie and Its Falsehoods Spread Widely Online

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Old 05-20-20, 09:06 AM
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With regard to post #18 about the definition of a conspiracy theory. I described the media conspiracy to bury the truth about hydroxychloroquine in exactly those terms on the local hiking forum, and brought the word nefarious back into style.
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Old 05-20-20, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
The Qassim Cassam book I cited above has a useful definition of Conspiracy Theory. I will look it up and post it.
From p29, the characteristics of Conspiracy Theories are "speculative, contrarian, esoteric, amateurish, and premodern"

A little unpacking of some of those:

"esoteric" p22 "The fact that the Conspiracy Theories reject the obvious explanation of events such as 9/11 and are so keen on the idea of a mismatch between appearance and reality gives their theories an esoteric feel. ... There is almost no explanation that isn't too bizarre for the Conspiracy Theorist's taste -- apart, that is, from the obvious ones"

"amateurish" p25 "C.T. who are quick to denounce mainstream academia for rejecting their theories nevertheless crave academic respectability. They set up pseudo-academic journals for the study of this or that alleged conspiracy and trumpet their PhDs, whatever the subject. They have a particular fondness for footnotes."

"premodern": p26 they "embody a thoroughly outdated worldview and a perspective on the meaning of life that was more appropriate in the last century...the view that complex events are capable of being controlled by a small number of people acting in secret, and this is what gives these events a deeper meaning. From this perspective, things always happen for a reason...From a modern (as distinct from premodern) perspective, all we can really say is '**** happens'"
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Old 05-20-20, 09:11 AM
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Here's the original article, which Cassam expanded to become the little book.
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Old 05-23-20, 05:07 PM
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One common thread in a lot of conspiracy theories seems to be the need to posit the idea that most things would tend to be good, or ok, or disease-free, if only decent non-conspiratorial people were in charge. They tend to presuppose that bad stuff can't just happen, like the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassinations, the 9/11 attacks, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. There has to be this layer of subterfuge, and a cabal of participants. Each example is different in detail, but the idea that it couldn't have gone down the way it was presented is always an underlying assumption. These conspiracies always put an extraordinary emphasis on the personalities involved, and de-emphasize institutions functioning normally, make a large number of ad hoc assumptions, and de-emphasize the principle of parsimony (the idea that simplest explanation is usually the best -- Occam's Razor). Conspiracy Theories tend to be popular amongst the politically disenfranchised, and (not coincidently) tend to be favored by those promoting fascism, typically blaming things on a convenient scapegoat.
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Old 05-24-20, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
One common thread in a lot of conspiracy theories seems to be the need to posit the idea that most things would tend to be good, or ok, or disease-free, if only decent non-conspiratorial people were in charge. They tend to presuppose that bad stuff can't just happen, like the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassinations, the 9/11 attacks, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. There has to be this layer of subterfuge, and a cabal of participants. Each example is different in detail, but the idea that it couldn't have gone down the way it was presented is always an underlying assumption. These conspiracies always put an extraordinary emphasis on the personalities involved, and de-emphasize institutions functioning normally, make a large number of ad hoc assumptions, and de-emphasize the principle of parsimony (the idea that simplest explanation is usually the best -- Occam's Razor). Conspiracy Theories tend to be popular amongst the politically disenfranchised, and (not coincidently) tend to be favored by those promoting fascism, typically blaming things on a convenient scapegoat.
And a surprising number of those folks who blame various non-existent conspiracies cite as evidence their own pet conspiracy provocateur, QAnon.

Some of these folks seem otherwise intelligent, but that only makes them easier to deceive. Smart people believe their intelligence confers immunity to deception. The only thing they get from that intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns and coincidences, believing those breadcrumbs must lead somewhere... but they lack the education and training to make logical connections, or they're so desperate that they ignore their training in logic.

They grossly underestimate skilled con artists. I've seen it in my own family. Many had genius level intelligence, with advanced educations from respected universities, and professional accomplishments. But they still fell for cults and scams like Scientology, EST, various similar scams and schemes of the 1970s-'90s, and, now, QAnon.

I'm betting QAnon is the greatest troll pulled by the denizens of Anonymous who evolved, or devolved, from the early days of trolling Scientology while wearing Guy Fawkes masks. QAnons are probably wetting themselves with glee over the rubes and suckers they've drawn into this scam.
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Old 05-24-20, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
"premodern": p26 they "embody a thoroughly outdated worldview and a perspective on the meaning of life that was more appropriate in the last century...the view that complex events are capable of being controlled by a small number of people acting in secret, and this is what gives these events a deeper meaning. From this perspective, things always happen for a reason...From a modern (as distinct from premodern) perspective, all we can really say is '**** happens'"
There are a few people acting in secret, well as secret as shell companies and tax havens can make it, to encourage some conspiracy theories as a way to destabilse government control. There is a fair bit of evidence that certain right wing families in the USA are bank rolling the current anti-covid-19 restrictions thingo. There is definitely plenty of evidence that the same families are behind climate denialism and the conspiracy theories that back that up. I suppose you could say this is not a conspiracy, however, but a fact...
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