A Guide to Practical Debunking

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.
 
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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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
 
U

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.
 

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. :)
 

tryblinking

Senior 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:

The argument that “they’ll just say we called them stupid anyway” even when all we have done is reasonable is bogus. Yes, they will make that claim. But if we don’t actually call them stupid, we can actually tell them, “No, we didn’t call you stupid, we explained why you made errors. It’s common to make errors based on ignorance and cognitive bias and as influenced by longstanding cultural and intellectual traditions. But, nonetheless, they are errors. Here are our reasons. Please address them or admit we won the argument.” But if we actually called them stupid, we then legitimately gave them the morally defensible excuse to say, “you’re abusive bigots, we refuse to listen”.

But “they should listen to our arguments even if we pepper them with gratuitous insults”, you say? No, not really. If I punch you in the face and then say, “Now that I have your attention, here is my rational disquisition on why you are wrong and deserved to be punched”, I’d say you have every right to ignore me, I waved my right to be heard. You’re not just a whiner when “all you focus on” later is the fact that I punched you and tried to bully you. You’re right to say, I don’t talk to bullies. That’s not you being prissy about tone. It’s about you refusing to sink the discourse into the sewer with people who resort to emotional appeals instead of targeted rational appeals.

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

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.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
Mick;2996 said:
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.

Mick, What a great site. Glad I found it.
 
U

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.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/03/28/daniel-dennett-rapoport-rules-criticism/

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us Dennett on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes — he offers what he calls “the best antidote [for the] tendency to caricature one’s opponent”: a list of rules formulated decades ago by the legendary social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport, best-known for originating the famous tit-of-tat strategy of game theory. Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

....
Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion.
Content from External Source
 

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.
 

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.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
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

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.
 

MikeG

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.

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.

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/de...ms-that-uv-is-off-the-charts.2097/#post-58179

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.


Cheers
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
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'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.
 

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.

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/lab-tests-2/

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.
 

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.
 
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Lisa P

Active Member
At this point, I am out of ideas. Any suggestions are welcome, although I am frankly not optimistic.

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
 
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NoParty

Senior Member.
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.
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)
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Just gently patiently keep presenting facts.

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.


@junksciencemyle I'm really not sure what you are referring to. Can you give an example?

@junksciencemyle And there's quite a few different types of efficiency (not to mention "systems"). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency#In_physics

@junksciencemyle What does that have to do with efficiency? It only needed about 5% of its kinetic energy to do that.

@junksciencemyle There's a detailed analysis of the energy transfers here: http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf

@junksciencemyle And a practical demonstration of the principles here:
… and


@junksciencemyle like this:


@junksciencemyle The paper you read explains how much energy was used up. What would that look like as a deceleration of the tail, and why?

@junksciencemyle exactly as was shown in the video. What bit of the video do you think is wrong?

@junksciencemyle Simply newtonian physics does not apply to complex deformable systems. The physics all works out, it's just not obvioius.

@junksciencemyle Take it one thing at a time. Look it up. Consider that your evidence might be wrong.

@junksciencemyle But I'm not going to run though the list on twitter. You can look them up, or discuss with focus and depth on MB. gnight

@junksciencemyle Yeah, but physics is actually quite complicated. There's the problem.

@junksciencemyle because it's not simple. If you get shot in the hand, does your body move backwards as one object? Does the bullet bounce?

@junksciencemyle Bullet vs. body is a closer analogy than two bowling balls.

@junksciencemyle Did you know that Newtons laws of motion only really apply to point masses?

@junksciencemyle I understand perfectly. You are oversimplifying things. The collision look physically accurate for that scale.

@junksciencemyle The problem is you have nothing to compare it against, it was very unusual. So it looks odd to you. Big and fast.

@junksciencemyle Why don't you do the math, and explain how much the tail should have slowed.

@junksciencemyle No, it only needed about 5% of the KE of the plane to break the beams at the splaces, any deceleration would be negligable

@junksciencemyle No, they were adequate for carrying static load and wind. Just the plane had a lot of energy. You read the paper, right?

@junksciencemyle http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf[Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/0hQc0lmFZE

@junksciencemyle You are not perplexed. You are ignoring the explanations.

@junksciencemyle If you ignore them, how do you know they are wrong. Why are you ignoring this paper? http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf

@junksciencemyle Their assumptions are all right there in the paper. http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf

@junksciencemyle Nothing is hidden in this paper. http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf … It explains why the plane did not seem to slow down.

@junksciencemyle See now you are ignoring the explanation of the plane not slowing down by changing the subject.

@junksciencemyle If it only lost 5% of its kinetic energy, why would it look like it was slowing down? Do the math.

@junksciencemyle Why would there be, if it only lost 5% of it's kinetic energy?

@junksciencemyle Of course there was resistance, it used up 5% of the kinetic energy of the plane. See 5.1 here: http://web.mit.edu/civenv/wtc/PDFfiles/Chapter IV Aircraft Impact.pdf

@junksciencemyle Why? A 100% drop in KE is barely noticeable as a deceleration here.


@junksciencemyle Not zero, it's just 5% of the KE of the plane, and the plane is highly deformable, not rigid. e.g.


@junksciencemyle It deformed as this plane did, just less, as the walls were weaker.


@junksciencemyle Once the wall is broken, it offers no resistance. Before that point it's crushing the front of the plane.

@junksciencemyle yes, about 5% of the energy was lost. But compare to a 100% loss.

@junksciencemyle Just like the jet plane. So it's exactly what you'd expect.

@junksciencemyle Just think planes bounce off the ground when they hit? See 9:40 here:

@junksciencemyle No, they show exactly what you would expect, the plane breaks the walls with 5% loss in energy.

@junksciencemyle No, why would it? 5% KE reduction is only a 2.5% speed reduction, and then only for a rigid body.

@junksciencemyle Where is your video analysis?

@junksciencemyle How noticeable is it here: … ?

@junksciencemyle Pretty much like this then? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZjhxuhTmGk

@junksciencemyle What about when it's only 5% crushed? How much has the end slowed then?

@junksciencemyle I can see you are perplexed. Would you like to understand this? Or are you convinced it's impossible?

@junksciencemyle And yet neither does the F4, which loses 100% of it's energy.

@junksciencemyle If the F4 uses 100% of its velocity, and you can barely tell, then why would you be able to tell with about 2%?

@junksciencemyle Explain why you could tell with 2% when you can barely tell with 100%.

@junksciencemyle Didn't you see the F4 crash test? No deformation. [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/DDbMne9BLN

@junksciencemyle How much does the F4 slow down during the first 5% of the impact?

@junksciencemyle Here's a better video. Do the analysis on the first 5%, and get back to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ8uvQk1H9I

@junksciencemyle Same as with the F4. Is that impossible?

@junksciencemyle What about during the first 5% of the impact with the F4? Any slowdown there?

@junksciencemyle Here's a higher quality video of the F4. https://www.metabunk.org/sk/F-4_Phantom_Jet_Aircraft_Crash_Test_HD.mp4

@junksciencemyle No, it's a BETTER analogy for your "it' should have slowed down" argument. Since it didn't during the first 5%

@junksciencemyle I'm sorry, but this clip demonstrates that zero (visible) speed is lost during the first 5% of the impact. Agreed?

@junksciencemyle It shows that you would not see any decrease. Why would you, if there's none visible in the F4 video?

@junksciencemyle Which should slow more, a jet hitting some beams, or a jet hitting solid concrete?

@junksciencemyle Where is the slowdown? Is this breaking the laws of physics? [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/ysxKYHGyHu

@junksciencemyle Why does the F4 not slow down?

@junksciencemyle No, it does not. Look at this. There is no visible slowdown. And this is super high speed footage. [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/lAH5GTjSMO

@junksciencemyle Why wold you expect any when the F4 also shows no slowdown?

@junksciencemyle Does the F4 slow down?

@junksciencemyle Did you see the F4 footage? That's how. 5% into that impact, the beams are broken, then it flies in the hole.

@junksciencemyle We are discussing physics. Plane makes hole, and goes though hole. [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/pkLhTaaoWU

@junksciencemyle Because physics. [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/yEGjsNASBP

@junksciencemyle Do you think the F4 crash was real?

@junksciencemyle Why would the F4 not slow down? Is it breaking the laws of physics?

@junksciencemyle So you don't think there's a "lack of physics" in the F4 video?

@junksciencemyle So you think it should slow down about 2% as much as the F4 did?

@junksciencemyle But it did not slow down. So what makes the WTC 767 slow down. What is different to the F4 situation?

@junksciencemyle Exactly like with the F4, which lost 100% of its energy, but still does not slow down. Riddle me that.

@junksciencemyle Do you understand how this can happen without slowing down? [Broken External Image]:http://pic.twitter.com/YffplffkGQ

@junksciencemyle So if the F4 broke through the concrete block in the first 10% of the impact, would there be any visible slowdown?

@junksciencemyle The F4 video IS the explanation.

@junksciencemyle Why are you ignoring the explanation? The 767 did not slow down for the same reasons the F4 did not slow down.

@junksciencemyle It would? Show me a video still of the impact that illustrates a 2.5% speed decrease

@junksciencemyle But the F4 loses 100% of its energy, with no visible slowdown.

@junksciencemyle Show me a 2.5% slowdown of the 767 plane. How many pixels is it?

@junksciencemyle No they don't There only "needs" to be a change in a perfectly rigid collision.

@junksciencemyle "scaled"? What?

@junksciencemyle How much of a change? What would that change look like exactly? 5% of the F4 change?

@junksciencemyle It is directly related. It's a plane crashing into a wall and not seeming to slow down. How is that unrelated?

@junksciencemyle It's an accurate illustration of what happens. And what happens is the back of the plane keeps going at the same speed.

@junksciencemyle If you think the 767 should have slowed down, then you need to explain why the F4 did not, when it lost 20X as much energy

@junksciencemyle So the WTC footage is not at a high enough frame rate?

@junksciencemyle Just like the F4.

@junksciencemyle Same as the F4

@junksciencemyle And didn't you just say the WTC footage was too low an FPS to detect any change.

@junksciencemyle You think the F4 video was not at a high enough FPS to detect the slowdown?

@junksciencemyle What FPS do you think live TV is? What FPS do you think the F4 video is?

@junksciencemyle What are the frame rates you are talking about?

@junksciencemyle And what FPS do you think this F4 video is at? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ8uvQk1H9I

@junksciencemyle Why would the 767 slow down if the F4 did not? The F4 video is much higher frame rate.

@junksciencemyle Indeed, enough to take 5% of the KE of the plane. But then the F4 lost 100% of its energy, but did not slow down at all?

@junksciencemyle So if a 100% loss leads to no slowdown, why would a 5% loss lead to any?

@junksciencemyle I showed you a video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ8uvQk1H9I

@junksciencemyle But you have a video of the 767. It's the same thing.

@junksciencemyle Do you think the F4 crash was fake then?

@junksciencemyle Do you agree the F4 video is at a much higher frame rate than the 911 videos?

@junksciencemyle But no loss show up in the video. And the video is better than the 9/11 videos. And the energy loss is much higher.

@junksciencemyle Why, if it's not visible in the F4 video?

@junksciencemyle No, the F4 footage is much higher than 60 FPS, it's more like 1000 fps.

@junksciencemyle So why is it not at 1000fps and 100% energy loss?

@junksciencemyle Where is your analysis?

@junksciencemyle For the same reason it's not there in the F4 videos. Do you know why it's not there in the F4 videos?

@junksciencemyle Which is the best live shot you analyzed? This one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S44KAxoGUCA

@junksciencemyle So why is there no slowdown with the F4? Seems silly to expect one with the 767, but not the F4.

@junksciencemyle Just like the F4, yes, so this is just what you would expect.

@junksciencemyle Exactly like every other video in the world of planes flying into objects.

@junksciencemyle So clearly you must think the F4 video is a super high quality fake?

@junksciencemyle A) it does not apply to a deformable object. B) It's not big enough. C) the F4 video shows no slowdown

@junksciencemyle Which is the very best 9/11 shot of the WTC2 impact that shows this supposed lack of slowdown?

@junksciencemyle Which one did you use?

@junksciencemyle It has everything to do with it, as it is the answer to your question. The F4 does not slow down. So why would the 767?

@junksciencemyle Which live shot did you use for your analysis?

@junksciencemyle I've answered that already. Now you tell me which live show you used.

@junksciencemyle and the 2.5% slowdown calculation was only for a rigid object. As the F4 vid demonstrates, it does not apply here.

@junksciencemyle Which did you use? I'm starting to think you did not use any. Which one was it?

@junksciencemyle On which shot?

@junksciencemyle I stabilized the FOIA version of Fairbanks, and it actually does seem to show deceleration. https://pic.twitter.com/77uArVAYBb

@junksciencemyle I am thinking. However I think you are wrong. I've gone into great detail here.

@junksciencemyle Here's a PSD of the animation, with guides. https://www.metabunk.org/sk/Evan_Fairbanks-stab.psd

@junksciencemyle Let's resolve the acceleration issue first.

@junksciencemyle So you think you were wrong then, about the deceleration? You agree it's like the F4, would not be noticeable?

Content from External Source
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.
 
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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!
 

MikeG

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.


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:

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/chemtrail-follower.4985/#post-133092

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.”

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/the-american-empire-denial-delusion-and-deception/

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

http://chemtrailsplanet.net/2014/02...ails-climate-engineering-and-weather-warfare/

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

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

Cheers
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
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.

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).
 

Hama Neggs

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.

Right, but get him to directly admit that the original claim was wrong.
“We must all take the time to learn the facts so we can march in this battle with credibility and this confidence.”

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.
 
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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


Winning isn't everything, but it sure is nice. When you don't see eye to eye with someone, here are the best tricks for winning that argument.

Convince Them With Confidence


If you want to be the winner of the argument, act like you are. Speak confidently, be concise, and try not to repeat yourself. Give the appearance that you truly know what's right from the beginning, even if you don't have all of the facts. Having facts that can support your stance is helpful, sure, but being convincing matters more.

In fact, one study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found evidence that suggests a group of people will believe a confident speaker before they will believe someone more knowledgeable. Watch politicians when they debate. They probably have no idea what to say sometimes, but they speak with authority to come across as trustworthy. Just stating facts can also seem defensive if it isn't done right. Use facts if you have them, but keep the confidence cranked up to the max. The more you look like you know what you're talking about, the higher your chances you'll come out on top.

How to Prime Your BS Detection Skills Before the Presidential Debates
The presidential debates kick off tonight, and that means it's time to power up your BS…Read more

Avoid the Most Common Argument Fallacies

If you want to increase your odds of winning, keep your focus on "not losing" and sustaining your argument. Winning an argument often comes down to who can go the longest without contradicting themselves and keeping sound logic, not direct persuasion of the other party. A battle of attrition, as opposed to all out combat.

There are more ways to lose an argument than win one, so it's important to be aware of the many logical fallacies that can incriminate you. Here are some of the fallacies that will lose you the argument before it even starts:

  • Anecdotal Fallacy: Using a single personal experience as the foundation of your argument or your big piece of evidence. For example, your phone may have broken right after you bought it, but you can't use that to argue that those phones are not worth the purchase by others.
  • Confirmation Bias: Ignoring certain facts because of personally held beliefs. For example, you can't cherry pick evidence that supports your claim and deny the evidence that doesn't.
  • Correlation vs. Causation: Assuming something is caused by something else just because they happen to correlate. For example, the number of homeless people in an area might correlate to the crime rate for the same area, but crime doesn't necessarily cause homelessness and homelessness doesn't necessarily cause crime. For more examples, check out Tyler Vigen's Spurious Correlations to see how absurd these types of arguments can be.
  • Straw Man: Making up a scenario to make the opponent look bad. You're assuming because they think one thing they must think another. For example, if they don't like orange juice, they must think oranges are bad for people.
  • Omniscience: Using statements that imply "all" of something or "every" thing are a certain way. For example, saying something like "all dogs pee on fire hydrants." This would require you to be omniscient to make such claims, which is not possible.
There are a lot more logical fallacies to consider, but avoiding these three can help you keep your argument on solid ground in the beginning.

The 30 Most Common Ways You Can Lose an Argument
While it may be true that nobody actually "wins" an argument—especially certain…Read more

Find the Best Evidence You Can (When Possible)

Even if you are confident, knowledge truly is power in an argument. If you're arguing on the internet, you have the advantage of being able to research as you argue, but arguing in person is a whole different ball game. The best thing you can do is prepare ahead of time (say, if you know certain subjects will come up at that dinner party). That way, when an argument comes up, you're locked and loaded with answers to show your adversary that you know what's what. Don't leave finding information to be a reactionary step. You wouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight, so gather up plenty of knowledge on the topics you know you like to argue about so you're always packing.

How to Find Evidence to Support Any Argument
Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you want someone to rally to your cause,…Read more

If you really want to build your knowledge arsenal, you should:

  • Use Google Scholar to find studies and case law.
  • Talk to others who can provide accurate information.
  • Talk to others who disagree with you, but are willing to see your perspective.
  • Ditch the bad evidence you've been holding on to.
When you have good evidence, it makes it a lot easier to counter other people's points while supporting your own.

Be Calm and Courteous—Even If You're Pretending

Your intent may be to prove the other person wrong, but you can at least pretend to be respectful of their point of view. Even if it's something that seems completely ludicrous or deeply against your own beliefs, losing your cool could lose you the bout.

Flying off the handle to attack someone on a personal level—also known as the fallacyargumentum ad hominem—is an easy way to send your credibility crashing down. Name calling, attacking a person's character, and using someone's beliefs or traits to call their argument into question are big no-nos. For example, you can't say that someone's argument about dogs being better than cats is weak because they are also a Republican. It offers no real support to your argument for cats being better and it makes it look like you can't think of anything better than poking at their personal beliefs.

Listen to what they have to say and take it in. Don't shake your head while they talk, cut them off mid-sentence, or look away like you don't care about what they're saying. It might be difficult to stay open-minded when you disagree, but psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne at Psychology Today suggests you at least make it seem like you have an open mind:

Don't let your opponent sense that you're digging into your position without being willing to consider alternatives. If you appear to be giving the other side's position a thoughtful review, then the solution you propose will seem to be far more sensible. Furthermore, your opponent may come to your side without your having to do anything other than listen. By letting your opponent speak, you may allow the situation to naturally resolve itself.

If the argument gets emotional—like a couple's quarrel, for example—you have to recognize that there are two issues to be addressed: both of your emotions and the situation at hand. Rein in the emotions first. Step away for a moment and let yourself cool down before you come back to the argument. If you can keep your cool and show the other person respect, at the very least you can come off as a reasonable person. You also give them a chance to make mistakes and possibly realize they're in the wrong.

Have Them Thoroughly Explain Their View First

When you can feel an argument brewing, ask your opponent to explain their point of view first. This is an important step to winning. They'll likely be more than willing to jump right in, which gives you three major advantages:

  1. You immediately come across as agreeable and willing to listen. This can disarm them and make it easier for you to persuade them later on.
  2. You get to listen to what they say and look for weaknesses in their argument.
  3. You give them a chance to mess up their argument.
Sometimes less is more. The more you talk, the bigger the chance you'll say something that can be used against you. So let them talk first to see if they can even support their own argument. They might find that they're not standing on ground that's as solid as they thought, or that the "how" of their idea isn't quite as strong as the "why." That's when you swoop in.


Win an Argument by Asking the Other Person to Outline a Plan
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If they do manage to explain their stance without fumbling, summarize it back to them to show that you understand it, then provide your counterpoints. When you show that you can clearly see their position, your counterpoints will come across more powerfully because you're not blowing off what they said. Instead, you're calling their bet and letting them know that you understand them, but you're not backing down.

Ask Them the Right Questions to Get Them Going

When you are asking someone to explain their point of view, the right questions can help you break their argument down logically. You might find a solution by understanding each other better without the need for persuasion (which is a different kind of win). Or you might get them to contradict themselves, strengthening your own argument. Word your argument in the form of open-ended questions that force them to address your points.

For example, if you believe everyone should tip 20% at a restaurant, and they believe that tips should only be 5%, you could say something like:

Why do you think servers are undeserving of 20% tips?

Now they have to explain their position whether they like it or not. If they refuse to answer, they lose the argument. If they can't explain their position, they lose the argument. If they do explain their stance, you can build on their explanation with more questions. Eventually, they'll either try to drop the argument in an "agree to disagree" fashion, or they'll stumble on their own reasoning and concede.

Stay on Topic (and Don't Blow Off Their Reasonable Points)

If the other person does say something that sounds reasonable to you, acknowledge it with caution instead of blowing it off. Again, you want to show that you understand them, that you're an agreeable person, and that you're not refuting every single word they say. If you denounce every point of theirs, you'll seem overly defensive and stubborn.

Remember, losing a battle doesn't mean losing the war. You can't steamroll people into changing their minds because then they'll want to resist it. If you give them a little victory here and there, you can slowly coerce them into seeing your perspective in a much better light. They'll see a little common ground and feel like they are being validated, and you'll move that carrot closer and closer to your side.

If they manage to throw you off with a really good point, try to stay on topic as best you can. Going off topic—or succumbing to the "Red Herring" fallacy—can destroy your credibility, look defensive, and start new arguments. Stay focused on the current subject and keep your emotions out of it. On the same note, if you notice your opponent changing the topic, you know you've struck a nerve. If you're dead set on winning the argument, you can keep pushing to make them upset and their argument will likely fall apart in anger.

Look for Consensus to Back You Up

If you're arguing around others, like at a party or with a group of friends, getting to support your perspective can be swaying. If enough people agree to something it sort of becomes true in a social setting. It may not be 100% factual, but with a little supporting evidence, your buddies can be a better backup than any fact out there.

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This can go both ways, though. If they have the power of consensus behind them it can be tough to recover. At that point you can explain that you feel ganged up on and that you we're only interested in casual debate, but it might be best not to avoid an argument to begin with if you know they have more backup than you. You should note, however, that it's best to avoid the fallacies of bandwagoning and appealing to authority. If you don't have any evidence to support your claim at all, you and your group of supporters are just bullying people into admitting they're wrong. Support is good, but you still want to keep your argument sound without them.

Change What Winning Means to You

You may not change the other person's mind, but there are other ways to win. If you change what winning means to you, the possibilities are endless. Winning can be resolving the conflict peacefully, getting them to admit they're wrong about one thing and not the whole topic, or intentionally giving in because you care about them.

In the video above, philosopher Daniel H. Cohen suggests you stop looking at arguments as war. Nobody wins in a war, and what little changes are made are usually due to submission. Being right isn't that important most of the time, and it's usually just to feed our own egos.

Logically, arguments are very rarely black and white. If an argument gets too tense, diffuse it and you'll both win in the long run. There are always alternate conclusions to consider. Remember the words of the great Sun Tzu: "The greatest victory is that which requires no battle."
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tadaaa

Senior 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
 
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MikeG

Senior 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

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.
 

Hama Neggs

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

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.
 

tadaaa

Senior 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
 

tadaaa

Senior 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
 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member.
Debunking, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary
“To expose the sham or falsehood of a subject” l.P.

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:

Sylvia Buford, an associate of Ted Patrick who has assisted him on many deprogrammings, described five stages of deprogramming:[21]
  1. Discredit the figure of authority: the cult leader
  2. Present contradictions (ideology versus reality): "How can he preach love when he exploits people?" is an example.
  3. The breaking point: When a subject begins to listen to the deprogrammer; when reality begins to take precedence over ideology.
  4. Self-expression: When the subject begins to open up and voice gripes against the cult.
  5. Identification and transference: when the subject begins to identify with the deprogrammers, starts to think of him- or herself as an opponent of the cult rather than a member of it.
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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.
 

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.
 

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

Of course I agreed to rigged rules that favor deductive arguments and or right Eliminate damn near all attempts for inductive reasoning even when proper evidence is held.
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Deductive Reasoning (Wikipedia)


Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, logical deduction is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logically certain conclusion.[1] It differs from inductive reasoning and abductive reasoning.

Deductive reasoning links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true.

Deductive reasoning (top-down logic) contrasts with inductive reasoning (bottom-up logic) in the following way: In deductive reasoning, a conclusion is reached reductively by applying general rules that hold over the entirety of a closed domain of discourse, narrowing the range under consideration until only the conclusion(s) is left. In inductive reasoning, the conclusion is reached by generalizing or extrapolating from specific cases to general rules, i.e., there is epistemic uncertainty. However, the inductive reasoning mentioned here is not the same as induction used in mathematical proofs – mathematical induction is actually a form of deductive reasoning.
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Inductive Reasoning (Wikipedia)


Inductive reasoning (as opposed to deductive reasoning or abductive reasoning) is reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument is probable, based upon the evidence given.[1]

Many dictionaries define inductive reasoning as the derivation of general principles from specific observations, though some sources disagree with this usage.[2]

The philosophical definition of inductive reasoning is more nuanced than simple progression from particular/individual instances to broader generalizations. Rather, the premises of an inductive logical argument indicate some degree of support (inductive probability) for the conclusion but do not entail it; that is, they suggest truth but do not ensure it. In this manner, there is the possibility of moving from general statements to individual instances (for example, statistical syllogisms, discussed below).
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Inductive vs. Deductive reasoning


Unlike deductive arguments, inductive reasoning allows for the possibility that the conclusion is false, even if all of the premises are true.[4] Instead of being valid or invalid, inductive arguments are either strong or weak, which describes how probable it is that the conclusion is true.[5] Another crucial difference is that deductive certainty is impossible in non-axiomatic systems, such as reality, leaving inductive reasoning as the primary route to (probabilistic) knowledge of such systems.[6]

Given that "if A is true then that would cause B, C, and D to be true", an example of deduction would be "A is true therefore we can deduce that B, C, and D are true". An example of induction would be "B, C, and D are observed to be true therefore A might be true". A is a reasonable explanation for B, C, and D being true.

For example:

A large enough asteroid impact would create a very large crater and cause a severe impact winter that could drive the non-avian dinosaurs to extinction.
We observe that there is a very large crater in the Gulf of Mexico dating to very near the time of the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs
Therefore it is possible that this impact could explain why the non-avian dinosaurs became extinct.
Note however that this is not necessarily the case. Other events also coincide with the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. For example, the Deccan Traps in India.

A classical example of an incorrect inductive argument was presented by John Vickers:

All of the swans we have seen are white.
Therefore, all swans are white. (Or more precisely, "We expect that all swans are white")
The definition of inductive reasoning described in this article excludes mathematical induction, which is a form of deductive reasoning that is used to strictly prove properties of recursively defined sets.[7]
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Abductive Reasoning (Wikipedia) Which is basically Occam's Razor

Abductive reasoning (also called abduction,[1] abductive inference[2] or retroduction[3]) is a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as "inference to the best explanation".[4]
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And from Live Science


During the scientific process, deductive reasoning is used to reach a logical true conclusion. Another type of reasoning, inductive, is also used. Often, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning are confused. It is important to learn the meaning of each type of reasoning so that proper logic can be identified.

Deductive reasoning
Deductive reasoning is a basic form of valid reasoning. Deductive reasoning, or deduction, starts out with a general statement, or hypothesis, and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion, according to the University of California. The scientific method uses deduction to test hypotheses and theories. "In deductive inference, we hold a theory and based on it we make a prediction of its consequences. That is, we predict what the observations should be if the theory were correct. We go from the general — the theory — to the specific — the observations," said Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, a researcher and professor emerita at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

In deductive reasoning, if something is true of a class of things in general, it is also true for all members of that class. For example, "All men are mortal. Harold is a man. Therefore, Harold is mortal." For deductive reasoning to be sound, the hypothesis must be correct. It is assumed that the premises, "All men are mortal" and "Harold is a man" are true. Therefore, the conclusion is logical and true.

According to the University of California, deductive inference conclusions are certain provided the premises are true. It's possible to come to a logical conclusion even if the generalization is not true. If the generalization is wrong, the conclusion may be logical, but it may also be untrue. For example, the argument, "All bald men are grandfathers. Harold is bald. Therefore, Harold is a grandfather," is valid logically but it is untrue because the original statement is false.

A common form of deductive reasoning is the syllogism, in which two statements — a major premise and a minor premise — reach a logical conclusion. For example, the premise "Every A is B" could be followed by another premise, "This C is A." Those statements would lead to the conclusion "This C is B." Syllogisms are considered a good way to test deductive reasoning to make sure the argument is valid.

Inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning makes broad generalizations from specific observations. "In inductive inference, we go from the specific to the general. We make many observations, discern a pattern, make a generalization, and infer an explanation or a theory," Wassertheil-Smoller told Live Science. "In science there is a constant interplay between inductive inference (based on observations) and deductive inference (based on theory), until we get closer and closer to the 'truth,' which we can only approach but not ascertain with complete certainty."

Even if all of the premises are true in a statement, inductive reasoning allows for the conclusion to be false. Here’s an example: "Harold is a grandfather. Harold is bald. Therefore, all grandfathers are bald." The conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.

Inductive reasoning has its place in the scientific method. Scientists use it to form hypotheses and theories. Deductive reasoning allows them to apply the theories to specific situations.

Abductive reasoning
Another form of scientific reasoning that doesn't fit in with inductive or deductive reasoning is abductive. Abductive reasoning usually starts with an incomplete set of observations and proceeds to the likeliest possible explanation for the group of observations, according to Butte College. It is based on making and testing hypotheses using the best information available. It often entails making an educated guess after observing a phenomenon for which there is no clear explanation.

Abductive reasoning is useful for forming hypotheses to be tested. Abductive reasoning is often used by doctors who make a diagnosis based on test results and by jurors who make decisions based on the evidence presented to them.
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