1. AluminumTheory

    AluminumTheory Senior Member

    A while back I posted a thread about my personal journey in and out of the rabbit hole (link).

    In this thread, I am going to discuss the personal psychological factors that I believe led me down the rabbit hole.


    Rebelliousness and Rejection of Authority

    As anyone with experience with conspiracy theorists knows, this is probably by far the most common thread among them. It's also common among teenagers and young adults, but I think that me rebellious tendencies go a little further than the average persons and seem to persist to this day. I remember being in first grade (about age 6 or 7) and on a math test, I intentionally answered every question wrong just to see what would happen if I did. I remember that I would deliberately disobey rules and authority just for the sake of disobeying. Even if being disobedient served me no purpose.
    As an adult, I think that some of this still persists as I have noticed (others have as well) that I generally perform better under little to no supervision and I tend to perform horribly and have many conflicts with the people who like to micromanage or insist on having a hand in every detail. I am also very outspoken and at times to a fault. I don't hesitate to say something when I know something is wrong. I will admit that this has gotten me into trouble at times, but I'm sure that it has spared me from even more trouble in the long run.
    Rebelliousness is a common theme among many extremist moments, even if it's the rejection of the current authority only to replace it with another. For awhile, I dabbled into some Libertarian ideas, but I've become more skeptical about these ideas. Alexander Hamilton said "if men were angels, we wouldn't need government", and I agree. I personally have a hard time believing that in the absence of authority, everyone is just going to get together and "do the right thing". It actually sounds pretty naive.
    Unconventional Thinking (Thinking Outside the Box).

    This is another trait that others have commented on besides myself. I have a tendency to look at things in a different way than most people do. I understand that most of us have a narrow perspective in our views and opinions. It's a difficult thing to break away from because we have only lived one life and experience one conciseness and most of us will die in the same place we were born. On top of this most of us have been indoctrinated to learn one version of history and one side of the story that is presented to us by mainstream media. Originally, I felt that a narrow perspective is why so many reject conspiracy theories. I felt that people refuse to accept anything other than what they have been taught by school or mainstream news. People never having been given a chance to see things through another perspective means that the 'truth' can hide in plain sight because so many refuse to see it.
    But then as the seeds of doubt began to materialize, I began to see things differently. Going back to the 2012 election hoax discussion that Alex Jones had, I began to see how these people manipulate their audience by appealing to ignorance. Knowing that alot of people don't fully understand the election process and how exit polling works allows people like Alex Jones to spread bunk about so called stolen elections. These people know who their audience is and the majority of them are laymen who may not have a detailed understanding of subjects like history, science, politics, geopolitics, economics, etc.
    This was when I began to think that maybe having a narrow perspective is actually what leads people into believing in conspiracy theories in the first place. We are all laymen in some respect or another and so people end up believing in conspiracies because they lack perspective in these particular fields of study. Alot of people don't understand why the government has to spend it's way out of debt. It seems counter intuitive. But learn something about Keynesian economics, and you might have a different...... 'perspective' on the situation.
    Other things that I stem from a narrow perspective is the over analysis of photos videos and events to prove conspiracy. "They look like actors" "That's not what I would do in that situation" "Why is he holding that?" "Is that laser detonator?" "That's an amazing coincidence". It's all part of that monological belief system that we talk about and how people end up believing that everything is a conspiracy.


    Feeling of Hopelessness.

    This is something that was discussed in the psychological study of conspiracy theorists. Forum user: Stupid linked to the pdf (thanks). It might be somewhat flawed being that it is based on internet comments, but it still has some value. In a nutshell it describes how the hopelessness is a common thread among the conspracist community, and overall feeling is generated by the conspriacist pundits on a regular basis. Alex Jones has people believing that we really have space weapons, weather control, mind control, poisoned water among many other things. If you believed this stuff were real, how hopeless would you honestly feel? Jesse Ventura once said "If voting made a difference, it would be illegal" yet, voting made enough of a difference to elect him Governor. It seems that their whole objective is to make people believe that the whole world is against them and that the only way to fight the new world order to buy their stuff. What solution does Alex Jones offer that doesn't involve promoting his show or buying his advertisers products?
    As I said before, I began to feel a sense of hopelessness after voting for Obama. I voted for him to put an end to Bush's policies as he promised. Instead he's expanding them. I'm not sure if anyone truly knows what kind of an epoch 9/11 really was. In my view, the consequences have yet to be fully realized. It's undeniable that civil rights have been and are continuing to be curbed in the name of security, and it doesn't seem like there is much of an opposition to stop it. This was a factor that lead me into conpracist thinking. But now that I think about it. I in some ways fault the conspiracy community for allowing this to happen. Alex Jones and his lackeys have undoubtedly recruited many people who share these sentiments. As a result I think we have a significant chunk of the electorate chasing white rabbits and ready to gear up when we could actually be focused on creating solutions to these problems through the democratic process.


    Being Gullible

    As much as I hate to admit this, I have to come to terms with it. I've reached a conclusion that it is human nature to be gullible, and that we are all inclined to believe what we are told by people we trust. And sometimes you don't have a choice. We are all laymen in some form or another and we are often dependent on experts or professionals to tell us what is going on. Skepticism on the other hand is something that we have to learn. He have to learn to apply logic and think rationally, and unfortunately, not everybody is going to learn this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013
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  2. Soulfly

    Soulfly Banned Banned

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  3. Clock

    Clock Active Member

    Interesting, aluminum. I do personally think that conspiracy activism are based on fear, or to scare you, and most of the time it works.
     
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think once people start believing that stuff, they reach a certain level of acceptance. It's like crossing over into another world. It does not always manifest as hopelessness though. Sometimes people just angrier the more they "know", and sometimes it makes surprising little difference.

    It constantly amazes me that people can believe that 9/11 was controlled demolition, and yet still act like normal people. But then I suppose people just adapt. If aliens were to invade and enslave us, then that would swiftly become the "new normal".

    But I think this acceptance really skews the thinking of some people. Things that should be recognized as incredible and earth shattering are just par for the course. This manifests as not making a lot of effort to prove your case. I'm think here particularly of the chemtrail folk. They do lots of tests, but thy only take them so far and then feel satisfied - because to them it's obvious, as it's "normal". Really what they claim the tests are showing is so mind blowing that it really would be worth vastly more of their time to actually make sure they are right, and to publicise them.
     
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  5. AluminumTheory

    AluminumTheory Senior Member

    I've been thinking more and more about 9/11 recently and how much it has changed the world we live in.
    As it stands right now, 9/11 is the cornerstone of conspiracy culture is is probably inadvertently responsible for the widespread conspiracy culture that we're seeing today. Before 9/11, JFK was the king of all conspiracies but it's not something that could be harped on forever as it descends further into history, and thus becoming less relevant. And like JFK, 9/11 is a vastly complex subject that has and will continue to have tomes written about it from every imaginable perspective. There are numerous theories as to why and how it occurred. And if you can suspend your disbelief, I suppose it's very easy to see why so many still think that 9/11 was an inside job. 9/11 resulted in two major wars, loss of civil rights, torture, paranoia, and massive debt which in turn lead to rising inflation which was a major factor causing the great recession. And I'm sure there are many more repercussions from this chain reaction that have yet to be fully realized. I was in my teens when 9/11 occurred so I didn't have much of a grasp in regards to politics, so I really wonder how many people (if anyone at all) had fathomed the importance of that event. Certainly 9/11 seems to have created a dystopia when compared to the prosperous period that preceded it. And I suppose that if you can believe that a government would orchestrate an attack to kill 3,000 people to manifest this horrible world, then there probably isn't much else that you wouldn't put past the powers that be. This in turn shifts the burden of proof in alot of people's minds to the point that conspiracies now must be proven false, for otherwise they will remain true.
     
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  6. Cairenn

    Cairenn Senior Member

    I think that when one is younger, it is easier to believe conspiracy theories. I was in grade school for the Cuban Missile crisis and when JFK was shot. I remember the the duck and cover drills and all the conspiracy around JFK's death. It was local and personal to folks here. I was in high school when MLK was shot---I remember the fear that many folks had about rioting. Then was Nam and the student protests---I was in college, but I was busy with a kennel of show Irish setters, so I heard and observed.

    I remember the oil embargo and gas lines and rationing

    I was active in local Republican politics at the time when the Reganites took over the party---I was not impressed and I started looking around. The Libertarians looked good, at first glace, and then I decided that the ones that were not loons, spent most of their time in a fantasy world.

    I had friends called to serve in the Gulf war, I remember the dire predictions about the oil well fires (from 'a year without a summer' to it would take a decade to put them out--less than 9 months).

    I had knee surgery the day of 9/11--how about having that on in the recovery room.

    Over and over and over, I have heard the predictions of doom, of conspiracies and intrigue and while some like Watergate and Iran -Contra were true, the doom never came. Nixon left, George W didn't postpone the election (a popular forecast in many left wing circles). He came back to Texas.

    After a while you start to realize that folks make predictions that further their views, their beliefs, their agendas. For the most part not evil, sometimes they are misinformed and refuse to accept the truth.
     
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  7. Efftup

    Efftup Senior Member

    Definitely a lot of conspiracy peddlers are promoting their own belief systems on others, but there is also that search for answers that I think people find one theory that seems to make sense the way it is explained to them (with Lawyers' arguments and confirmation bias, "Surely if this then THAT must be true")and that starts them off on the whole thing. Then it just gets easier to accept anything else that comes along.
    Chemtrailers like to point out that NASA cloud charts are wrong cos we already KNOW NASA lies because we never went to the moon etc. so we pick on NASA charts rather than meteorological society charts.
    But I also find it interesting the hoplessness angle cos they like to try and convert new believers, but don't really seem to DO anything about it.
    I know someone who believes in Chemtrails thinking we are being poisoned, but she and her kids are not walking round in breathing masks,or trying to actively stop this happening. so it makes you wonder if they REALLY believe, or just like feeling clever about themselves cos THEY have "woken up" to the truth.

    This is another aspect that seems to appeal to CT'ers. It's that mystical secret knowledge that only THEY have found out.

    If Crowley had just announced he had some new ideas, no-one would have listened. But cos he said an Angel came to him in a dream and told him all the mystical knowledge of the ancients, people went for it.
     
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  8. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I come from a long line of conspiracy believers . . . so I get it naturally . . . my grand parents who were born in the late 1800s lived through the Spanish American war, the coal union riots of Kentucky, the Russian Revolution, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, Cold War and the beginning of the Korean War . . my grandfather was a State Representative and Teacher who was well educated for his era . . . and in the 1940s and early 50s . . . he warned my mother and her siblings of his belief of the dangers of the Federal Reserve and the existence in his opinion of a powerful group which was behind the creation of the League of Nations and then later the United Nations . . .

    So a belief in a world wide conspiracy comes easy to me . . . it is my heritage . . . I never feared it . . . it was the state of the world . . . with this belief most of my relatives served in WWII including both of my parents as my Grandfather served in the Spanish American War and I served in the military for 30 years myself . . . my life experiences have not limited or reduced my belief of a powerful secretive group of manipulators . . . it has reinforced it . . .
     
  9. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    This is along the lines of what I was thinking. I think (I'm not a Jungian, but if I remember correctly he went on about this in Man and his Symbols) man has an inherent need for mystery. People balk against a "god" concept because 'it cant be definitively proven', 'there's no real proof'. CTs perhaps replace this need for "the unsolvable riddle" with things like 9/11 etc. You can't debunk God to a believer, you can't debunk Ghosts to a believer and you can't debunk CTheories to a CT. Because life would be way to dull and pointless without the Unsolvable Mysteries.

    I wonder if CTs believe in God or are they just replacing the 'all powerful' God with Government because God is so out of fashion these days.
     
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  10. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I don't think God is out of fashion . . . I think the concept of God has evolved to include a more diverse concept including simply the intelligence or consciousness that creates order and maintains life to more people . . . traditional religions may have taken some hits for their abuses and intolerance . . . I do agree that mankind has a need for a belief . . . the almost universal existence of religious or spiritual beliefs in all known cultures around the world tells us that . . . P.S. the belief in conspiracies has always been a major characteristic of human nature . . . the internet just makes it more efficient and sustainable . . .
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
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  11. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    yea, like Government
     
  12. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    Lol!!!! I guess you could say so . . . but not what I had in mind. . . ;)
     
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  13. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    The Rabbit Hole for many people is simply their education, rearing and life experiences . . . who doesn't believe in some significant conspiracy at some level for example: organized crime, the Military Industrial Complex, the Federal Reserve, Free Masonry, the Communist Conspiracy, etc ?? The question to me is how far from conventional wisdom is the belief and is there objective, verifiable evidence to support the beliefs ??
     
  14. Cello

    Cello New Member

    I'm curious, has anyone looked into this as an addiction? I see a lot of similarities in former believers testimonies to addiction testimonies. The factors that led them to the addiction such as depression, becoming reclusive and letting their personal lives crumble while they constantly search for that next hit. Addicts know deep down what they are doing isn't right, but they act in denial because they can't stop seeking that high. In my relationships with addicts, when they are sober and lucid everything is fine but then there's a trigger and their personalities change. They will become toxic to anyone around them who isn't involved in their activities. All addicts once they have taken steps to their sobriety are deeply ashamed of their actions. For the "Believers" a simple answer to their suspicions is always disregarded because that answer would end their high so they have to keep searching for something that backs up their thoughts and the high keeps going.

    I ask these questions for a deeper understanding of the situation and to have a more sensitive approach when dealing with someone I care about.
     
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  15. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    I think if you are seeking answers to help a specific individual you need to take care not to fall into the "generalization" trap. Lots of factors can affect people's belief systems, age, health, etc.

    If you want to have a more sensitive approach, then just be more sensitive. It's not like being sensitive and nice can hurt the situation.
     
  16. Cello

    Cello New Member

    Perhaps I worded that incorrectly. I was never insensitive or cruel in dealing with this person. I was just stunned when what seemed like a normal conversation suddenly went into this New World order run by Jews who worship Lucifer - coming from a Jew. My first response, not in anger but just in genuine shock was "Do you really believe that?" I've heard of many of these theories in passing but never really paid attention and until now had never engaged in full conversations with a "believer". Our last conversation ended badly when I brought up a thought that didn't fit their agenda. This person who's company I've always enjoyed suddenly became toxic. I kindly cut ties later but am still trying to make sense of what happened.
     
  17. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    What happened was they had a firmly held false belief. There are a variety of reasons why this might happen and it's a mistake to generalize.
     
  18. OnAMission

    OnAMission New Member

    Interesting to read these self appraisals. I believe many or all of these factors come into play depending on the individual. In the case of the friend I’m trying to help it’s a matter of thinking creatively, a tendency towards caution, long term stress and life long depression and anxiety that has magnified due to the huge financial stress he’s under. Gullibility, but misplaced. Screwed too many times but trusts the wrong people. He trusts me so I feel I have a shot. Add to this a tendency to mistrust government ( who doesn’t). Lastly the tendency to mistrust mainstream sources. The whole world became a conspiracy.

    The factor I’d like to add is specifically those who pretty much stick to YouTube as their primary media source and how their algorithm contributes to some falling further and further into the Rabbit Hole. In my friend's case it started out watching Zeitgeist. Then watching videos on YouTube about ancient aliens and Illuminati. The video suggestions YouTube presents are other conspiracy theories. 9/11 was next, then chemtrails. Progressed to moon landing hoax and what I thought was last. Flat earth.

    What I noticed was as the depression and anxiety worsened so did the obsession with these theories leading to a paranoia that everyone had malicious motives. Also because of the financial situation cable tv was cut and youtube is what he entertains himself with. Rarely anything else streaming. I pretty much was willing to humor the earlier conspiracies, flat earth was a tough one as my family is very much into the space program and travel. One son is a pilot one is a chemical engineer and the other a physicist.

    It’s the latest iteration of conspiracy theory that troubles me and is ever I feel the need to step in. White genocide conspiracy. A person who always had been color blind and accepting of everyone, modeled that. Now sometimes sounds like a white supremacist while denying that. He’s been watching a YouTube channel called Redicetv. Was a YouTube suggestion and hexes intrigued conceptually by their lure in Of why is it ok to say black pride but not white pride. Intellectually good question but most of us understand why. Anyway I watched a couple of their videos and it’s terrifying.

    They promote themselves as preservers of Europe’s culture and present arguments as to why they aren’t racist. Then they have all this stuff on “ they want you dead white man” and other sexist propaganda playing to the fears of disillusioned men, and to their supposed decline in masculinity. I feel like WTH happened? It’s like he was brainwashed by a cult. Anyway I’ve taken many of the ideas presented in the book and he’s listening.

    I’m sorry this is so long, but I feel this is a new lower step into the Rabbit Hole and a dangerous one at that. Much is discussed about websites conspiracists use as well as videos, but some are solely researching conspiracies on YouTube which I feel is an interesting twist given the algorithms used. This man essentially brainwashed himself via that route claiming that’s the majority of info. Interestingly I get the same kind of search results on YouTube as well.

    I apologize if some of this is redundant. I just joined here. Did a quick search and found no references for white genocide conspiracy. While my example is about a specific person, I am more interested in how this will affect the conspiracy theory community longer term, how conspiracy is attractive to the fearful, how it potentially leads to worsening paranoia, and how to stop it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2019
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  19. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    that one never made sense to me. Aren't the Illuminati elite primarily white?

    I do believe that eventually white people will be eradicated, but so will blacks. Eventually all of mankind will be tan with black hair. But it will take a long long time, and the idea the "elite" would be doing it on purpose makes no sense.
     
  20. OnAMission

    OnAMission New Member

    Agree with that. Something about the conspiracy mindset is related to the “us” VS “ them” mentality. When I heard the same person who has championed women and minorities in the workplace and was a love all people regardless of gender, race or creed and married to a Jewish woman, begin panicking “ they want us all dead!” I knew there’s a deeper thing going on. There are a few articles online that mention white genocide conspiracy. Mainly Wikipedia and a few news/ opinion articles but not much. This seems to be a new twist. Some minimal online research led me to some mention of the expansion of conspiracy theories in this direction.
     
  21. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    maybe related to the whole Trump thing, some of his associates and then Charlottesville. I think we have a thread here somewhere talking a bit about that .. white supremecy becoming more 'popular'.
     
  22. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think the conspiracy mostly holds that the "Illuminati" are Jewish and that Jewish people are not "white".
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_genocide_conspiracy_theory#Alt-right
     
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  23. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    ah i forgot they are neo-nazis. the press has used the term white supremicist so often lately. but it isnt about white supremecy, it's about white Christian supremacy. got it now.
     
  24. OnAMission

    OnAMission New Member

    This is the strangest part. He used to be lunch more left ( liberal). Never was a Trump supporter. Hated the “evil man”. While he’s no full blown supporter he’s starting to see “ positives”. What he’s akways been has been anti establishment.
    Got a bit further into Mick’s book. Reading now about the YouTube algorithm and tie in to politics. I’m glad he’s covring that angle. One thing he started doing after cutting cable was start watching RT as it was on “antenna “ tv. The cable cut was out of economic necessity which also coincided with a worsening of depression. A perfect storm of events.
     
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  25. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This reminds me of The Brainwashing of my Dad:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brainwashing_of_My_Dad
    If you are mostly exposed to one point of view then you will eventually accept that point of view. It's like being on a jury at a trial where only the prosecution gets to speak. To arrive at the correct conclusion you need to hear both sides fairly.
     
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  26. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    well yea, if he is afraid of a white genocide there would be positives to Trump. (other than the fact that his favorite person is Jewish, and Trump is very pro Jewish). I agree with many of Trump(ish) policies simply because i am a conservative, but i often wonder how much of his devotion by the die hards is simply because he is a petty, nasty man. The conservative platform he serves up really isnt that far off from any prior politics, he's not some conservative maverick.

    Sometimes it feels good to vent, if you are under extreme stress. Plain and simple.

    Trump is PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES and basically he throws almost daily temper tantrums. And that is what they are, no matter how you slice it,..i work in the temper tantrum field so i know them when i see them. And if the Pres of the US can act liek that, then maybe it's ok for 'us' to act like that because Trumps behavior seems socially acceptable to alot of people.

    I wonder if that whole "i just want to scream and complain and be nasty and vent because my life sucks" mentality is maybe factoring into your friends issues. Findign something outside your self to be mad about, deflects from your own personal stuff a bit. Maybe you can sign him up for a kick boxing class or buy him a punching bag.

    Just a thought. Exercise is always good for the soul (and the brain)


    ADD: and maybe tell him about other TV watching free channels. Most tv shows can be viewed free online if you go directly to those channels. HULU with some commercials is like 7$ a month and has decent content. some movies are available free on Roku channel, Vudu channel and Sony crackle. I got 2 months free trial of Amazon Prime which includes their Netflix type service. (the distraction technique :) )
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  27. OnAMission

    OnAMission New Member

    I think you’re spot on. He’s looking for a reason for his anger. But economically he’s akways been left of center and left on social issues. It’s this whole buy in to the war on men and the genocide thing. And ironically he just mentioned he’s gained 10 lbs since becoming unemployed. I just suggested starting working out like he used to. Helps with masculine image too. He’s a good soul and maybe I’ll never get him to debunk flat earth but if help stop the Rabbit Hole descent here. I’ll be happy.

    Ps ironically he told me about free streaming channels. His wife watches them.
     
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  28. OnAMission

    OnAMission New Member

    Thanks. I’ll check that out. Just finished your book. I may try and get him to read it at some point. Wonderful info and a great validation for and gave a name to my own suspicions. I’m actuslly thinking if he can get out of the hole he might be perfect to help others escape. Perhaps giving a sense of purpose.
     
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  29. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    If you do, I'd be really interested to hear what happens.
     
  30. Franky

    Franky New Member

    I came across this thread a few days ago and I thought it was really interesting to see what everyone thought about why people like conspiracy theories. It got me thinking about, what if a big factor is that we encourage kids to think outside of the box and to question things? I'm an elementary education major and for one of my classes I had to interview my dad about how he experienced school growing up in the 60s. He was talking about how teachers would tell the students what to think without allowing them to think for themselves. However, now we are teaching teachers to encourage kids to not believe everything they hear opposed to really thinking for themselves and developing their own ideas or really questioning things. I feel that this way of teaching has really changed how people look at conspiracies. People don’t automatically assume that the conspiracy theory has no real evidence, they might actually go in and research the topic, really give it some thought, and think about the “what ifs”. I would like to hear your guys thoughts on it.
     
  31. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    well i'm not sure that is actually happening in the classrooms in reality, but if it were that would include Movies, "documentaries", shows on the "History" channel, Facebook memes and Youtube videos.

    ex: "what if that FE Youtube channel is lying to you to make money? what if the guy running that 'Jewish bankers taking over the world' is just a paranoid schizophrenic or is just clinically depressed because his girlfriend dumped him; and his mind, not wanting to think about his real life, is making up some outside angst he can focus on instead?

    basically, if you do your job right, you don't have to worry about teaching kids to question and think.
     
  32. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

     
  33. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Hey now, when RT says "Question More", they don't mean question RT more, anything but that.
     
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  34. Inti

    Inti Active Member

    I understand your point. I have taught school students in history and humanities, and have tried to encourage them to think critically. But if that message ends up just being "question everything" it could indeed be damaging. At worst, it could encourage a cynical and automatic rejection of all established ideas, which ends up being the mirror image of naive acceptance.

    Real critical thinking is much more than "question everything". It means knowing how to think about difficult and challenging topics, how to evaluate and analyse evidence, how to test your own ideas and assumptions - even many self-proclaimed critical thinkers want to learn how to crituce other people's ideas, but are much more forgiving of their own.

    Kevin LaPlante is well known for teaching critical thinking talked about critical thinkingvs dirty secret, that you can't teach it! At least, not as an isolated set of skills, packaged in a standalone course.

    http://criticalthinkeracademy.com/courses/what-is-critical-thinking/lectures/51616

    And that background knowledge is more than just facts. It's also the know-how to think about factual knowledge effectively.

    So if science is taught as a series of given facts, without making students understand how sciences actually work, how science is systematically sceptical; or history is just a chronicle of officially sanctioned facts, with no consideration of how historians use evidence and draw conclusions, or how historical controversies work, then that undermines any efforts to encourage constructive critical thinking. And that does leave the door open for pseudo-sceptics like the conspiracy theory promoters.


    By the way, there's an interesting discussion here; https://www.metabunk.org/critical-thinking-explained.t460/
     
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  35. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    I don't think so, I went to school in the 60's and 70's and was always encouraged to 'do my own (extra) research' where appropriate, in subjects like history etc, I've never fallen down the lundreds of rabbit holes I've enountered over the years. Thats because I was taught how to check sources and how to use concepts lke occasm razor etc. This holds true for most people at least in the UK (dunno about the US, dunno how their curiculm is constructed).

    What I feel however is in an age of mass social media its far easier for conspiratory theorists to 'spread the word' so to speak, share ideas ad generally mouth off about the latest false flag, NWO / zionist / reptilain / evil liberal / evil alt-right / whatever 'plot'.

    Take Davd Icke for example. He head dived down the rabbit hole in the early 80's, and apart from selling his self published books in fringe bookshops, mailing out xeroxed news letters and his lecture tours he was very much a fringe figure; his only real mass exposure being the odd time when he did make the odd TV chat show where he would be proclaim himself 'Son of God', predict disasters that never happend and get laughed at.

    However now we live in an age where the world and it's cat has potential access to the ears of the world, Mr Icke has a far louder voice, he and his fringe group of CTers find it far easier to raise their profile, connect with other CT lovers and at least give the apperence of a growing movement even if in reality the impact of his ideas are still very much fringe and seen as laughable as the majority of people.
     
  36. Mendel

    Mendel Member

    Richard Feynman, "What is science?", 1966:
    The vital part about questioning is not the doubting. The vital part is asking good questions, paying attention to the right observations, so you arrive at answers. Doubt has no value if it doesn't arrive at answers that can withstand this doubt.

    If you teach "question everything", you are teaching too little:you need to teach "check everything", because that includes seeking an answer to your question. And if you re-read my quote (or find the whole talk), that's what Feynman is really about. Answers are useless without questions. You need to question first of all. But then you need to work on answering the question, and then decide what the best answer is.

    And that is where the conspiracy theorists go wrong: they get stuck at doubt. My field is flat Earth, you can find an amazing number of bad "proofs" that the Earth is not a globe, that there's something wrong with science, that NASA may have not sent live footage that one time when they said they did. That's doubt. But that's not answering the question. The question is, how to explain everything that happens from the new point of view, which few people do. Flat Earthers are strangely unconcerned about what their world looks like and how it works, and they rarely question the explanations they are being offered by the flat Earth propagandists at the forefront. They have learned to withdraw trust, but they have not learned to question, to reflect on themselves critically, to seek answers.

    You can only teach children to seek answers if you first teach them to question. The problem with Conspiracy Theorists isn't that someone showed them how to question. The problem is that nobody taught them how to work towards finding answers. If you can teach *that* at an early age, your children will never grow up to be conspiracy theorists (or so I hope).
     
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  37. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Isn't that the latest Creationist tactic, to question the Theory of Evolution under the guise of "critical thinking" and "academic freedom," subverting academic standards? Similar to "health care freedom" subverting the "standard of care."
     
  38. Mendel

    Mendel Member

    It occurs to me that there is a follow-up problem: if you have learned to question and seek answers, you can often recognize other people doing the same; and you can often recognize other people NOT doing it. But what if you haven't?

    And that's a problem for Flat Earthers: they admit to having been "indoctrinated" or "brainwashed" into science, they admit to not having learned to investigate for themselves. That's not necessarily the fault of the education system: someone who always copies their homework from others (or wikipedia) instead of doing it themselves deprives themselves of the experience of thinking for themselves, while deceiving "the system" into assuming they did.

    So maybe conspiracy theorists have not learned to inquire; maybe their concept of sceptical inquiry is to present alternate opinions with no more than an intuitive evaluation of its "truthiness" (how true it feels). They simply cannot tell trustworthy arguments from untrustworthy propaganda.

    Is it even possible to teach them that if they don't want to learn it? How? By leading by example and hope it rubs off?
     
  39. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    Many opposed to conspiracy theories are many of the same ones that accept news stories or science claims without testing the information to know whether it's true or not. So a lot of it comes down to bias. The conspiracy theorists are biased against the mainstream and the mainstream are biased against conspiracy theories. Both stances are psychological flaws , it's biased to say only conspiracy theorists have mental disorders while mainstream believers are intelligent thinkers.
     
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  40. Mendel

    Mendel Member

    "mental disorders" -- that's an escalation I wasn't prepared for

    I was talking about something else entirely. To give you a simple example, imagine someone has no idea about music: it's all noise to them. They can't tell if a musician is any good because they don't know anything about it. But if you do, you can hear who plays correctly and who doesn't, even if you don't know the score: the irregular rhythm and off-key notes will tell you.

    So, if you have never learned how to question in a way that leads to answers, you cannot tell one "skeptic" from another. But if you have, you can see more easily who knows how it's done, and who only pretends.

    This is not a matter of CT vs. Mainstream. I'm aware that CTheorists were mainstreamers once. You can definitely hold mainstream ideas and not be able to tell a competent thinker from a less competent one. The bias results from observing who thinks the way you've learned leads to correct/useful results, and who doesn't. (For example, despite Flat Earth claiming they are the better scientists, there is no scientific achievement of the past 150 years that was credited to a Flat Earther. Conspiracies don't get exposed by conspiracy theorists.)

    And that results in a bias against existing conspiracy theories, because they generally do not lead towards anything useful. But the bias is not caused by the CT being off mainstream, it is caused by the CTheorists being bad at thinking and clinging to very debunkable ideas (which causes them to be off mainstream in the first place).
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019