1. Marine0811

    Marine0811 Member

    I think conspiracy theories are a good thinking tool to some extent which is useful. It conditions to doubt information that may have once been assumed fact, and can teach skepticism which is the basis of scientific thinking imo. Many debunkable ideas are not accepted bc they are just opinion and not based on provable facts.
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  2. Inti

    Inti Active Member

    I don't agree. Conspiracy theories are popular precisely because they act as a defence mechanism against disconfirming evidence. They allow the believer to selectively ignore or dismiss inconvenient observations or facts. That is a common human tendency, and one of the reasons we need to have a systematic set of methods to prevent it. which is what we all scientific scepticism.
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  3. Mendel

    Mendel Member

    Your "usefulness" is entirely negative.

    "conditions to doubt" just means you reject useful information.
    But a conspiracy theory does not teach what we should do to gain trust in information.
    if anything, the information that CTists hold true is even more doubtful than the information they reject.
    This is because the "conditioning" has taught them to accept any doubt as true without investigation.
    It re-inforces the doubt and raises it to unquestionable truth.
    But it does not teach how that doubt itself should be questioned, and trust arrived at.

    The dismissal "it's just an opinion" cuts you off from helpful information as well.
    It helps CTists cling to debunkable ideas because any demonstrations to debunk them are met with doubt.
    But the core that makes up the CT is never doubted.

    CTs cut their members off from authorities and accepted knowledge.
    At its core lie a doubt of authority and science.
    The CT psychologically isolates its believers from outside sources of information.
    No matter what they hear from the outside, their belief in the CT is unshakeable.

    This is not the scepticism that underlies scientific thinking.
    Scientific thinking only rejects an idea when it has been thoroughly falsified.
    For that, it needs to be understood.
    But conspiracy theories do not teach understanding.

    Conspiracy theories take a belief (an "opinion") and support it with a huge amount of selected facts.
    This is what I would do in class when we had to interpret a story:
    I would select an interpretation that wasn't "mainstream".
    Then I would pick some lines from the story that supported my interpretation.
    It was based on "provable facts".
    And then the teacher would select some other lines that directly contradicted my idea.
    My idea was useless because I did not understand the story as a whole.

    I learned that you have to investigate the whole story.
    I learned to be open to everything that was in it, and how it connected.
    I learned that it is not enough to have some "proveable facts".
    I learned that with understanding, everything in the story is connected and falls into place.
    You can demonstrate that understanding with lines from the story.
    Usually, you pick lines that show this most clearly.
    But this is the difference to picking lines that support a wrong idea:
    I can place every line of the story within my true understanding.
    I don't have to do it, but I can.

    The difference between the true understanding and the wrong understanding:
    It was not in the lines I picked.
    These were the same lines that my teacher used.
    The difference was in the lines I did not pick.
    The wrong understanding sounded good and in line with the story.
    But it really left many parts of the story unexplained.
    The wrong understanding supported my own view of the story.
    But I had not really understood the author's view.

    I could have learned from conspiracy theory.
    I could have learned to question the lines that did not support me.
    I could have clung to my wrong understanding.
    I would know to doubt anything that contradicted it.
    I would simply have rejected anything that did not fit my view.
    I would not have learned to understand.

    Understanding means encoutering someone or something with an open mind.
    It means filling your mind with the whole of that something.
    It means walking ten miles in another mans shoes.
    It means being able to explain it to someone else.

    You can reject something you have understood.
    In fact, critical thinking is an important part of the understanding process.
    Questions are a tool to separate that which we have understood from that which we have not yet understood.
    They guide our process of understanding.
    They tell us what we have not yet understood.

    Sometimes, the answers tell us that someone's idea is wrong.
    Sometimes, the answers tell us that our own idea is wrong.
    Sometimes, the answers lead us to new understanding.
    Sometimes, we understand our old understanding better.
    The world is never wrong.
    The world just is.

    Questions can be used to raise doubt.
    Questions can be used to further understanding.
    These are often the same questions.
    How they are used reveals the goal of the inquirer.
    Is it inquiry or inquisition?
    Question the inquirers.
    Understand their goals.
    Do they lead you towards doubt?
    Do they lead you away from knowledge?
    Or do they lead you to greater understanding?

    Conspiracy theories are not thinking tools.
    They lead away from science.
    They promote doubt and not inquiry.
    They promote dismissal and not understanding.

    The difference is not in the questions they ask.
    The difference is in the answers they don't hear.
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  4. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    I knew what you meant. And if i'm right about what you meant, then i agree.

    Also, I remember reading that some Flat Earthers were really just using Flat Earth as a thought exercise.
  5. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    That might be more the "online conspiracy culture". But several people who have escaped the rabbit hole, have talked about learning to think more efficiently/logically and about their biases, about what constitutes evidence vs opinion or emotional clickbait etc.