1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Debunking, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary
    “To expose the sham or falsehood of a subject” l.P.
    When you debunk an assertion, you are demonstrating that some of the reasoning, or the claimed facts, behind that assertion are false. You look and see what they are claiming, you identify which bits are true and which are not, then you explain this.

    Debunking is NOT about taking one side of an argument, and then using whatever means possible to convince someone that you are correct. A good debunker is a good scientist. If there’s information that contradicts your position, then don’t ignore it, instead you should alter your position.

    It’s not us vs. them. Invite everyone to point out errors in your facts, or in your reasoning. Focus especially on facts. Ideally you would be able to present enough verifiable facts that any reasonable person would come to the right conclusion.

    There are various kinds of audiences you should have in mind when writing a skeptical article.

    The easiest to write for is a community of like-minded skeptics. This is essentially preaching to the choir. It’s intellectually satisfying, but not terribly useful. These people are already immune to bunk, and at best this will be bolstering their immunity, maybe contributing somewhat to herd immunity. But really not a lot. The believers in bunk do not read Skeptic Magazine.

    Then consider writing a generally accessible article for those people who have not formed a strong opinion, but are familiar with the subject matter. The “what’s up with that mystery missile story” people. This is also fairly easy, as you can generally just lay out the facts. Providing you can communicate reasonably, then things should work out fine. They are healthy people with enquiring minds. They may not have all the facts, but if given all the facts, they should be able to come to a reasonable conclusion.

    Then there is writing for people who have no idea what the problem is in the first place. Like if you were asked to write a “chemtrail” article for USA Today, a popular American newspaper. Since the vast majority of people have not heard of chemtrails, you have to actually explain why people believe in them in the first place, and then explain what the problems with the theory are. This is analogous to inoculating them with a weak or dead form of the theory, and then letting their natural rationality take care of it, and hopefully build up some immunity to this and similar theories.

    Then you descend to the various levels of bunk infection. There are a few levels worth noting here.

    There’s the reasonable believer. They believe the theory, but they do so based on what they think are facts. They can be open to new facts, and can often be rescued. Be aware that they will have several infections of bunk, and you are not going to get rid of all of them. Don’t try to. Don’t even discuss the stronger bunk infections if possible. You can talk them out of chemtrails, and maybe the moon landing hoax, but 9/11 might be a bit too far. One step at a time.

    Then there’s the “true believer”. The True Believer has lost all immunity to a particular subject. Anything you say that contradicts their belief must be a lie, because it contradicts a true belief. You need to establish common ground somehow, and work from there. Frequently they will not see reason, but they can be useful as a source of memetic material to help inoculate others. They will frequently run through the entire set of “evidence” one piece at a time, oblivious to the fact that everything they bring up is easily explained. This is useful simply for you to get familiar with the arguments used.

    Then you have the extremists. People beyond the reach of reason, who don’t even have a good basis for their own beliefs. The lack of rationality in their arguments makes them both impossible to reason with, and basically useless for any part of debunking (except perhaps to illustrate how extreme the argument is - but that’s not a very good argument in itself, something of a fallacy). Best to ignore them, and hope they go away.

    Some Guidelines for effective debunking communication

    Tell the Truth

    Don’t lie. Lies are evil. Lies will come back to hurt you. Lies are wrong. Don’t lie.

    Don’t hide facts. If something conflicts with your theory, then change or expand the theory. If you hide a fact, it’s going to come up later. Be honest now, and you’ll be safe later.

    Be polite.


    Insulting people just polarizes them. Even perceived insults will have this effect. Telling someone they are “stupid”, “retarded”, or even that they “need to do more research”, is entirely unhelpful to progress. We are trying to get out the bunk, and if you insult people then they will just cling to their bunk tighter.

    Of course there will be people who reject your ideas, no matter how you present them, polite or not. But always remember you have a greater audience than the person you are ostensibly discussing with. Part of that greater audience might be convinced, even if the individual is not.

    Have a Thick Skin

    People will insult you. They will call you stupid, evil, ignorant, a shill. They might even threaten you. Do not let this get to you, and do not let it tempt you to respond in kind. Being perceived as angry will only provide a distraction from what you are saying.

    Don't be passive-aggressive

    And don't be sarcastic. It's all stuff that can be perceived as insults, and all stuff that can distract. Instead be simple, honest, direct, and polite. Take a deep breath. If you feel venom as you are typing, it will probably come though in what you say. Be polite. Be nice. Do it honestly.

    Don’t try to win

    Don’t compromise truth for the sake of "winning". It’s not a contest. You don’t win if you convince someone of your point of view, but lie to them or withhold evidence along the way. You don’t win by bullying them with facts until they run away. You want a mutual agreement, something where both of you have arrived at a commonly held understanding of the facts that is closer to the truth. This might even mean you yourself may change your opinions a little. But that’s why they are just opinions.

    Don’t be an expert

    It does not matter what your credentials are. Don’t assume that makes you right. Being an expert gives you easier access to information, and it provides mental tools to help process that information. But you can’t just then say “because I say so”. You still have to explain, to demonstrate, and to provide the means of verifying your point of view.

    Keep on target

    One thing at a time. It’s very important to not lose focus, as there are lots of topic out there that will suck the life out of any discussion. One can be having a perfectly reasonable discussion about why contrail cirrus can last for several hours, and then someone says “yeah, I suppose you believe that WTC7 fell down because of a little fire”, and all of a sudden it’s tangent city. Of course you could fully debunk any WTC7 myth they throw at you but don’t go there. It’s just a huge time sink. Don’t allow off-topic discussion if possible, and just ignore it if you can’t.

    Know Your Limits

    Don’t dive into a highly hostile forum that has deep and bunk-filled views of the world. If they all agree, then you are going to get nowhere. There has to be at least some discussion going on there already, or some air of reason, for you to do anything productive. There’s a range of conspiracy forums. They all contain the full spectrum of conspiracy theorists, but some forums tend more towards the extremes than others . Read before writing there. Above Top Secret is more sensible than Prison Planet. Prison Planet is more sensible than David Icke. David Icke is more sensible than some of the more specialized forums out there.

    Debunker or Skeptic?

    Both, of course. But beware of language. For some “skeptics” are evil minionions, for other it’s “debunkers”. They have somehow got the wrong definition of the word. I hesitated somewhat in using “bunk” at all in this blog. But then it’s for people who understand what true scientific skepticism is, and what true debunking is. But you might want to be careful in an initial encounter not to alienate people by saying you are a “debunker”, if you know they are going to take that the wrong way. If you do describe yourself as a debunker (which I prefer), then make sure you can take the time to explain what it means. Debunking is just removing bunk - what do they want, you to leave the bunk alone?

    Citation Needed

    Back up your assertions. Provide the source of your data. Don’t just say “Aluminum makes up 8% of the Earth’s Crust”, unless you can back it up. If you are writing an article, then cite as many authoritative sources as possible. If it’s a comment, or in a discussion, don’t claim something unless you can quickly provide evidence of it.

    Keep it simple

    It’s not simple. It’s complicated. It’s very easy to make the explanation complicated, and then you either lose them by using science beyond their ken, or you get bogged down in minutiae. Keep it simple. “It can’t be true because … [of this one thing]”. Use the simplest thing that you think they will understand.

    Quick example there - The Bard of Ely believed in chemtrails, and fought against all arguments. The breakthrough came when he realized that the solar halos could only be made by ice crystals, not powder. Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing that that was the one thing that would tip the balance.

    Let them debunk it for you

    Teach a man to fish and you won’t need to keep giving him fish. While it’s very temping to simply lay out the facts and prove that something is bunk, it’s much more productive for everyone to allow them to fill in a few steps for themselves. You need to gauge this carefully. Many people “want to believe”, so will resist doing anything that might harm their beliefs. But if you can get someone to look something up, perform a simple experiment, or fill in a logical step in an argument, then you win them over in a far more solid manner than if you did all the work for them.

    You can extend this by actually teaching them how to debunk - or at least giving them little skills, like how to effectively use Google, or perhaps some little bit of math, or a reference they can use.

    Know the Language

    Believers often have a very specific usage or misunderstanding of specific terms. They frequently take any mention of some term (e.g. “aerosol”) to be related to their specific theory. Understand this when discussing the subject with them, and attempt to either explain what the term means, or use more neutral terms (dust, water vapor). Sometimes they will pick on an unusual phrase and simply misinterpret it, like “radiative forcing”. Here you’ve got to explain the term to them. You’ll have to do it again and again. You might want to consider putting up a little glossary of frequently misunderstood terms for your domain.

    Don’t trust their eyes

    Quite often you get statements like “I know what I saw”. When what they saw was something fairly boring, but it looks like something, and then they fit that into their world view. These types of things can be neatly described by:
    A) Looks like: (something suspicious)
    B) Hence: (How that fits into their world view)
    C) But: (What it actually is)
    A good example being the “Fema Coffins”:
    A) Looks like: thousands of over-sized coffins stored in a field
    B) Hence: FEMA must be planning to kill thousands of people
    C) But: It’s actually just coffin liners
    The cognitive dissonance occurs because for the believer it’s a lot simpler to go with A and B than to incorporate some new information C. They already “know” that there’s this huge population reduction conspiracy going on, so A and B fit that perfectly. C is new information that works against the conspiracy, so must be false.

    Keep it Understandable

    The most irrefutable debunk in the world is useless if nobody reads it. It needs to be written in an accessible manner. Give the simplest and easiest to check facts first. Make it entertaining. Politeness is a factor here again, as you can turn people off. Be polite, and more people will read it.

    Use simple language. Use short sentences. Encapsulate single concepts in single paragraphs. Don’t include confusing things unless needed. Leave those to a sidebar/appendix/footnote. Keep it along the lines of “Because A, then B”.

    Learn from History

    Where did this conspiracy come from? What is the context? The fluoride conspiracy makes more sense in the context of the communist fear period of McCarthy in the 1950s. So what are the Zeitgeistical roots of this conspiracy? Chemtrails come from health scares on talk radio. UFO’s come from the Roswell incident and the Red Menace. The Federal Reserve conspiracies perhaps from anti-semitism.

    Avoid repeating yourself

    Think twice, write once. Make your explanations well worded, and in a form that can be re-used. It’s better to put some effort into writing a blog post, because then whenever someone raises the same point again, you can just point them at the post (I really should write a post explaining Radiative Forcing). If new information comes along, you can just update the post.

    Avoid Repeating Others

    Unless you are debunking a niche theory, then it’s likely that other people will have addressed any given point before, and often very well. If there’s a better explanation, then just link to it. If there are multiple explanations, then link to them. If you find you have to write additional material, then you might need to synthesize the various other articles into something new. But make sure that you are adding something. Make a copy of whatever you link to, in case it vanishes.

    Don’t debunk where there is no evidence

    A very common problem in bunk circles is when they raise the issue “you can’t prove that it isn’t”. Do not rise to this bait. The key point is that they have no evidence that it is. There are an infinite number of things that you can’t prove are not so (see: Russels Teapot), so for them to require you to debunk something, they first have to provide evidence that it IS so. Then your first step it to nullify that evidence by explaining it with conventional theories (long lasting trails in the sky = contrails). One their evidence is nullified, you don’t need to provided extra evidence against their theory, as they now still have no evidence for it. You are a debunker. The bunk here is the evidence and the reasoning they use. Remove that bunk and all you have is a random theory.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2015
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  2. Bunkerbuster

    Bunkerbuster (AKA iondetox)

    I wish people would follow this advice. Many comments by debunkers are very rude and they NEVER admit when someone else proves a point. This takes away from your credibility and is harassment. I think you should remove people from your site who violate your basic philosophy of being rude.

    Your approach sounds good on the surface, but the message sent to everyone is not the same. I'm all about science and hypothesis, but when someone is just interfering with a logical conversation and ignoring fact in light of overwhelming evidence, I'm all for blocking and ignoring the childish noise.
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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I try to steer people towards discussing the facts, rather than personalities. Banning someone is a last resort. I will edit their posts to remove insults, and I'll give them warnings.
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  4. Bunkerbuster

    Bunkerbuster (AKA iondetox)

    I guess that is a more.. step by step approach.. because really everyone has a right to their opinion even if we don't agree.
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  5. Ross Marsden

    Ross Marsden Senior Member

    Everyone is entitled to hold an opinion and to express it.
    However, most chemtrail believers express their opinions in such a way that they are presented as facts. Now, when those apparent facts are challenged, say by a debunker, the response is often personal attack, incredulity, ridicule or a re-statement of the (false) fact in a different way, or the presentation of a new opinion in the guise of a fact.
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  6. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Chemtrails is a hoax only cuz there are no airplanes dumping chemicals on us. Instead, there are holograms of what looks like like airplanes somehow making lines in the sky. I don't know WHAT they are... or how or who... but I am positive they aren't airplanes! Airplanes can't make 90 degree turns, there is not enough money to operate such a budget (paying for massive amts of chemicals and pilots...), the things up there are almost completely silent.... They are transparent... crazy stuff you guys. Look up and notice what's really going on.
  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Holograms can't make lines either, as they have no mass. So it seems we are at something of an impasse. :)
  8. tryblinking

    tryblinking Member

    I read this amazing article on Daniel Ficke's excellent Atheist philosophy blog Camels with Hammers, and figured [with the 'politeness' sticky locked] that this was probably the next best place to post it.

    It talks about politeness as the best policy in argument, and seems to exhaustively explore the reasons and consequences with admirable clarity. It is obviously written concerning discussions of Atheism, but the same reasoning can be easily applied across debunking as a whole, especially sections like these:

    If you have the time, it's well worth a few readings.
  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    That is an excellent article. It address what is a fundamental problem in the skeptical and debunking communities.

    Mocking people is counterproductive.
  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  11. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Mick, What a great site. Glad I found it.
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  12. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    This is a very general and summary comment. Debunking was very big 75 years ago; then the academics came up with the word "deconstructing." That's what I do. For several years I've been writing almost exclusively about education. And I just want to sum up the entire field by saying it's very much like a crime scene. Figuring out what went on there is a full-time job. The people at the top almost never tell the truth. They are all brilliant sophists. If they use a phrase such as a "life-long learners," you can be pretty sure their students don't know anything and will never know anything. I could not write anything for this site without breaking half of your rules. The Education Establishment is huge and massively funded; they are also shameless. To fight them, I find I'm becoming an Alinsky on the right. I am sarcastic. I am trying to win. I want to be as much an expert as possible. Did you know this country has 50 million functional illiterates? Few can explain this. I can. Ditto through all the bogus theories and methods that our elite educators love so dearly. I say all this on the off-chance that a few visitors will be interested in the esoterica of education. I invite them to visit http://Improve-Education.org where I try to deconstruct some of the cleverest sophistries loose in the land.
    Bruce Deitrick Price
    PS I have hundreds of articles on the internet. If you want to use one of them to start a brawl, please do.
  13. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Deconstructing is not the same as debunking.
  14. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

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  15. Lisa P

    Lisa P Active Member

    Wow, love this. Something I should have read earlier! It is very easy to slip into us vs them. Have copied & pasted to read at my leisure.
  16. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    I am a new arrival to Metabunk. I just wanted to note how much I appreciate the overall approach. Looking forward to joining in at some point.
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  17. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    There is a very handy little journalistic trick that is of use here. It's called 'the 5W-H rule' (or that's what my lecturer at college called it) Its one of the first things they teach you on any media or journalism course worth it's salt.

    Before you write your story thing about the subject and ask yourself What happened, Where it happened, Why it happened, When it happened, Who was involved and How it happened. Then work all of these into your first one to three paragraphs. (The order is not that important.) Then use the rest of the story to expand on the details, but arrange your points in descending order of importance.

    This serves two purposes. 1) It means the reader can grab the gist of a story by skim reading the first few paragraphs and 2) an editor can easily cut your story down by just cutting out the bottom paragraphs and still keep the story complete.

    An example off the top of my head. We had a partial eclipse in the UK today, so I could write...

    "My girlfriend and I (who), observed a partial eclipse of the sun (what), earlier today (when). An eclipse, where the moon crosses the face of the sun, casting a shadow on the Earths surface and is an impressive natural spectacle (why), was visible across most of the UK. (where). We watched the event using special safety glasses (how)"

    That's the bones of the story, everything else you write; in this case exact time of day, a more detailed description of the event, how many other people were watching it, what we had for breakfast before we watched it etc, is just filler to expand the points laid out in the fist couple of sentences.
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  18. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    Thank you for the guidance. I am a teacher by professor and I know that conciseness is worth its weight in gold.

    I am highly interested in debunking chemtrails. A very good friend sends me a constant stream of internet links that never survive even the most basic scrutiny. Dane Wigington is a favorite of his.

    I’ll use your “5W-H Rule” as well as Metabunk guidelines to offer an example.

    Dane Wigington (Who) often uses the term “shredding the ozone” (What) when he speaks about the impact of chemtrails. For example, I heard it a few times during last year’s debate with Mick West. (When)

    To be honest, Wigington never really makes the motive (Why) for spraying chemtrails clear. His website constantly refers to a cover up. I am just not clear what is being covered up.

    Where Wigington’s claim really falls apart is over the mechanism (How) that is supposedly causing the ozone to “shred.” I am not a scientist, but some quick research on the altitude of the ozone layer and the altitude of the aircraft he claims are spraying quickly reveals an enormous disparity that can be measures in miles.

    The chemicals he claims are raining down on us are allegedly being sprayed miles below the ozone.

    Rather than start a new thread, I followed Metabunk guidelines and looked for this information.

    TWCobra made the point in an older post.


    All that said, the 5W-H Rule makes sense as do the website guidelines. I hope that I can make a constructive contribution in the future.

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  19. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I'd be interested in hearing more about your interaction and attempts to debunk Wigington's output for your friend. Dane is one of the main sources of chemtrail bunk. It would be good to know how it goes with showing your friend the holes in Dane's claims.
  20. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    Thank you for asking

    Ridiculing my friend’s ideas was never an option. I agree with your guidelines and general approach. A polite, patient attempt at discourse is the best approach.

    Knowing nothing about chemtrails, I decided to challenge one element of it. Instead of addressing contrails v. chemtrails, I decided to present basic information on aluminum. I forwarded old and new data on its prevalence in air, water, soil. etc. All of this information is very basic for the layperson.

    No luck. He seems to have bought the claim that aluminum does not exist in nature, which is just patently untrue.

    Next, I asked my friend to walk me through the “Lab Tests” listed on the geoengineeringwatch.org website.


    My goal here was to point out that much of the information listed doesn’t conform to a reasonable person’s definition of an actual test.

    Again, no luck.

    I have tried to engage my friend in some of the published material cited by Wigington with the intent of illustrating how often he cherry picks or misinterprets information. For example, I found Natalia Shakhova’s actual published research on Arctic methane (“Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf”)and asked my friend to see how heavily qualified its conclusions are in reality. They do not support Wigington’s doomsday scenarios in the least.

    Turns out, my friend is not much of a reader and ignored the article. This is a huge obstacle in that headlines and links to blogs seem to drive most of my friend's knowledge.

    Finally, I have questioned why someone might trust the intermediary (Wigington, in this case) who presents information. My friend does not trust the main stream media because he believes it lacks objectivity. Arguing from principle, I said that is true of anyone. More bias creeps in the more intermediaries are present. One of Dane Wigington's common devices is to cite some secret whistleblower who is never cited

    My point was pretty simple: hard evidence speaks for itself. Do what Dane always advises: look up there information for yourself.

    This more abstract approach also failed. My friend seems most interested in Wigington’s “sincerity” than his data. Perhaps that is the root of the problem. Misguided intuition, rather than reason, is guiding my friend

    At this point, I am out of ideas. Any suggestions are welcome, although I am frankly not optimistic.
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  21. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I'd stop skipping around. Go right back to the aluminum thing. If he refuses to look at the nearly unlimited number of sources talking about the presence of aluminum in soil, it's a lost cause. Pin him down on exactly what the claims are. Is it really that aluminum simply does not exist in nature? You're not going to find an easier to debunk claim than that.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
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  22. Lisa P

    Lisa P Active Member

    From my experience please don't give up.

    I believed in chemtrails for approx. a year due to a retired Navy officer telling me about them. For the first year or 2 I didn't notice any even though I was regularly 'looking up'. In late 2013 I started to see these trails he spoke about and photographed them. In late 2013 I also met a retired commercial pilot (727) that said he believed them to be chemtrails even though all his old work colleagues disagreed with him. So I figured these guys must be right. It took me a year of investigating, debating online and observing to realise #1 contrails can persist and spread and #2 there is absolutely no direct evidence that there is a covert spraying operation. Unfortunately I thought it may be true when I was told the debunkers were govt disinfo agents however my one saving grace is I love a good debate. So I didn't trust the debunkers and some of them were a bit rude to me which made me trust them less. Eventually a fellow on facebook took the time to have a decent discussion with me which led me to Metabunk and I have never looked back. Keep patiently presenting facts and don't get emotionally involved, we are not responsible to 'save' people but uphold facts. Flightradar24 (free app version available) is good to use if he believes commercial jets don't leave trails. Every contrail I have checked on FR24 has been from a commercial jet at over 26000ft or so. The interesting thing is in 2015 we have had very different weather and hardly any persistent spreading contrails in my area compared to 2014 when there were a lot.

    Just gently patiently keep presenting facts.

    Edit - was to correct grammar
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
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  23. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    I truly admire your diligence and approach Mike...not sure I could be as patient.

    As far as the "not much of a reader" angle, I see a lot of that, and it kind of makes some sense to me:
    If I'm one of the elite few who "know what's really going on" why should I be motivated to invest
    a lot of time and effort reading dry science-y stuff...that might only make me lose my "specialness" ?

    (Obviously I don't endorse that mindset/approach...but I'm trying to understand it before I pull all my hair out in frustration)
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
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  24. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I agree, and I'd also say that repetition is helpful here. When you try to explain something they believe is wrong, they your explanation generally just bounces off, or goes in one ear and out the other. They reject your explanation, and instantly forget it.

    So a good step there is to get them to remember your explanation. Sometime really simple, like "soil is 8% aluminum" or "lots of old books on the weather say contrails can persist for hours". Once you have repeated it long enough for them to remember it it, then it becomes harder for them to ignore it - they actually are forced to address it in some other way that "but Dane seems so convinced!!!"

    When talking to true believers I try to focus on a single point for as long as possible. I recently did this as something of an experiment talking to a "no-planer" (someone who thinks that no planes hit the WTC on 9/11). Eventually he conceded my point (that the plane would not slow down visibly when flying into a building). Unfortunately his account has been suspended, so all this responses have been deleted, but here's my side of the discussion to show the degree of repetition. Notice especially how much I refer to the study on energy loss, and bring up the F4 video, even though he wants to avoid it.

    And at that point he agrees that the impact of the plane into the WTC was similar to the F4 video (so by implication it is realistic, although he does not actually concede this, as I remember). He then went on to some even sillier points, and I gave up. However "no-planers" are some of the more extreme conspiracy theorists out there, they are generally ultra convinced, and even getting them to concede a single point might be the first step of many out of the rabbit hole. But it can take a long time.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
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  25. WeedWhacker

    WeedWhacker Senior Member

    RE: Post # 24 above (and of course Post #1, the 'OP'). Most excellent examples of how to properly present an alternative to bunk.

    ("alternative to bunk" meaning, of course....to "debunk". To present facts, rather than rely upon inaccurate interpretations, etc). Not sure about the exact grammar, there.

    (Will leave that to English teachers)....I kid, of course!
  26. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    I agree with that advice. That is essentially why I started with aluminum in the first place.

    However, when the evidence offers a tangible answer, such as the overall percentage of aluminum present in nature, I noticed that my friend adapts his claims to avoid that answer. I think that it has been called "moving the goalposts" in other threads.

    We have moved from talking about the presence of aluminum oxide to "free aluminum," for example.

    The dichotomy I see here is between empirical thinkers and dogmatic thinkers

    The former questions their assumptions and attempt to assemble evidence that leads to a conclusion.

    The latter have no doubts about their conclusions and shape their evidence accordingly. At points, the conclusions are simply altered when reality makes then untenable.

    The end result of this dogmatism is the possession of “special knowledge” most others lack. A previous thread applies here:


    I think that is why someone like Dane Wigington can write on his website:

    “We must all take the time to learn the facts so we can march in this battle with credibility and this confidence.”


    Yet, at the same time repeatedly claim that his supposed facts “cannot de denied.”


    Apparently, we have not discovered the proper “process” to understand.

    Applying logic to this thought structure is, to be diplomatic, a problematic exercise.

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  27. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I agree. Stick to one point. There is no gain in letting them change to a new point over and over again. It just lets them avoid confronting or even remembering what you said about the first point. Seen it a hundred times (actually, probably 500 by now).
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  28. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    Right, but get him to directly admit that the original claim was wrong.
    Yep. Seen that before, years ago, with Nancy Lieder and her "Planet X". It SOUNDS like the listeners are being told to 'think for themselves' and 'look at the facts', but in truth, the leader is TELLING THEM what they WILL conclude if their thinking is "right". The followers don't care or aren't willing to actually take the time or make the effort, or don't really even know HOW to analyse data for themselves. So, they just take the word of the leader as to what the proper conclusion should be IF they had done any/all of that.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
  29. WeedWhacker

    WeedWhacker Senior Member

  30. Critical Thinker

    Critical Thinker Senior Member

    From one of my Facebook feeds, Lifehacker, some post-worthy advice that pretty much reflects the suggestions in this thread (IMHO).

    The Definitive Guide to Winning an Argument

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
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  31. tadaaa

    tadaaa Active Member

    the problem with debating various points with CT'ers is that it is like nailing jelly to a wall - although I do agree a useful tactic is to stick with a point - like a dog with a bone

    they will simply move on to something else, it is like debating with a Terminator devoid of all logic - they simply will not stop!!!

    recently during one discussion, I finally got someone to admit that Marvin Bush was categorically NOT head of security at the WTC (in reality not that difficult a claim to debunk) - but rather than question his sources of information, and ask himself what else are they telling me that is simply not true,

    he moved position and reverted to the "personall incredulity" tactic - saying nevertheless he thought it was "interesting/sinister!!!" that Marvin Bush was involved, on some level with the "Security" of the WTC

    and that is when you have to rock back in your chair and admit that they just won't succumb to logic/reason

    interesting eh!, interesting that Marvin Bush would make a career in "security", interesting that the son of an ex president and former director of the CIA would forge a career in the security business and land some high profile clients

    No in a word - I find it absolutely unremarkable, in fact I would go so far as to say pretty likely, and is entirely consistent with the level of nepotism and cronyism we see in the world

    Now if the person had come up with the fact that Marvin Bush went into landscape gardening, or maybe opened a homeopathic vegetarian bookshop, just south of sacramento

    I would find that interesting

    but that the son of an ex director of the CIA had a flirtation with the security business - not really

    and that's before you get to the tricky "logic" bit,

    if Bush planned it all, who is THE last person you would want associated with "security" in any shape or form around the WTC
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  32. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    Thanks to all for the advice.

    I think the best course is to stay with aluminum as a general topic and stay there.

    I am thinking about offering a few basic questions that we can both look at and research, for example, what is the normal amount of aluminum in nature. What is its prevalence in our home state, etc. We can then compare evidence and talk about its merits (or lack thereof).

    I like the analogy of nailing jelly to a wall. All too true in my experience.

    I also liken the arguments to watching a water bug glide along the surface of a pond. If it stops, it sinks. I have seen that pattern repeated endlessly when Dane Wigington speaks in almost every forum. He avoids introspection.

    Again, thank you for the perspectives.
  33. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    That and the "contrails don't persist" claim are really the Achilles heels of their theory.

    PS: I just had a guy try to tell me that prop engines don't make contrails and that the story about them existing in WW2 are "fake". If they are willing to go that far to keep their story alive, you can just give up. Lost cause.
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  34. tadaaa

    tadaaa Active Member

    Maybe the simple truth is - they don't want to be convinced / change their position

    They like where they are

    In the same way smokers know all the same facts as non smokers regarding the dangers - but until they actually "want" to stop, most dialogue is pointless

    The trick is knowing when that time comes
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  35. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    or understanding, diversity is the spice of life. not everyone wants to be saved.
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  36. tadaaa

    tadaaa Active Member

    sure - it is easy to get overly "preachy" in either direction / side of the argument

    we have all experienced the militant ex smoker!!!!!

    and it all essentially comes back to the purpose of this excellent forum - to remove bunk

    the rest is a personal choice
  37. Critical Thinker

    Critical Thinker Senior Member

    Much of these forums are dedicated to examining individual claims of evidence, based on the premise that by pointing out that there is no credible evidence supporting a given conspiracy theory, that a rational person would dismiss the conspiracy theory. The operative term being "rational person", which may not be the case when someone has fallen down that rabbit hole. Often, in spite of all evidence that seemed to support a conspiracy theory having been debunked, the CTer will persist in their beliefs. There can be a number of reasons for that, which vary based on the individual and why they persist to believe something that is not supported by the evidence. At this point I would like to suggest looking at how experts 'deprogram' individuals who have become cult members.... to be clear, I am only advocating these steps that some experts in deprogramming Cult members have cited, and not the more extreme measure that have been employed that are mentioned further down in the article:

    1 & 2. Throughout Metabunk there are a ton of instances where we have shown that most of the leaders who promote Conspiracy theories have discredited and contradicted themselves.

    That is half the task of deprogramming someone whose belief in Conspiracy Theories is based on faith/trust in some leaders confidence/veracity/expertise. Once they see and agree that this figure has shown themselves to be untrustworthy, I would suggest introducing them to the how to be a Critical Thinker and how to recognize Logical Fallacies, as well as how to distinguish Reputable Sources and Evidence from BS. (I realize that not everyone has the discipline to retrain themselves to, think about how they think, and to to be willing to examine why they hold their opinions/beliefs.)

    There are a number of members here who have returned from the rabbit hole and have offered their experiences and insights and they might be our best advocates to reach out to those who are just starting to return to reality because the stories from these former believers might be more relate-able to them.
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  38. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    Just been sent this on FB and thought it was pertinent
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  39. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I wish people understood what the phrase "begs the question" really means. EVERYBODY now thinks it means "suggests the question", as in being something one wants answered.
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  40. Critical Thinker

    Critical Thinker Senior Member

    I think that it is important that people understand the difference between Inductive Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning and Abdictive Reasoning and why Metabunk relies mostly on Deductive Abductive Reasoning in examining claims.

    In a thread in site feedback & news a new member said

    Deductive Reasoning (Wikipedia)

    Inductive Reasoning (Wikipedia)

    Inductive vs. Deductive reasoning

    Abductive Reasoning (Wikipedia) Which is basically Occam's Razor

    And from Live Science

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
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