Is it less rational to believe in several conspiracy theories than only one?

Thomas B

Active Member
Here's something that Benthamitemetric brought up on another thread. It seems worth a thread of its own for those who are interested.

There are likely very, very few people who believe 911 truth without believing in several other conspiracy theories.

Here's my view: If you think about it, this is actually a rational position. If 9/11 was an inside job it would be strange if it were also the only time in history that such a conspiracy has been organized. I suspect that these days 9/11 Truth is one of the first conspiracy theories anyone is likely to take seriously. Since it implies a "deep state" cabal that is capable of such things, however, other events would be needed to confirm its existence. Why build a sinister multi-generational organization to pull off only one job? So the new truther looks at things like OKC and is reminded of JFK. Then Tonkin and Pearl Harbor come up. In each case they decide that there are enough questions (and connections) there too. In order to explain why the insurance companies didn't refuse to pay out the WTC claims, they get into the whole IRS/FED/Bank of England "scam" (and notice that this also helps to explain events after 9/11, like the financial crisis).

In other words, they try to fit this new idea into a rational theory of history and find that it's at least possible. Now they're committed to a long-term project: to relearn history. They've run into what Norman Mailer called "a hitch in historiography". (It's worth reading his essay, "A Harlot High and Low," if you want to understand the psychology and epistemology of a conspiracy theorist. And, of course, his "novel of the CIA," Harlot's Ghost, to see that it is indeed possible to imagine history subtended by various and sundry schemes.) My point isn't that this makes anyone right (or wrong) about any particular theory. I'm just saying that the willingness to believe in other conspiracy theories shouldn't be held against them. It's just a sign that they're able to think systematically about history. They realize that their views about 9/11 commits them to a more general view about how the world works. Maybe they shouldn't be so "scientific" about history, but at least they're thinking rationally.

The reason to let this count in their favor, rather than having it discredit them "by association", is that it gives us more ways to have a rational discussion. It also forces us to appreciate the difficulty (and perhaps the futility) of debunking factoids one at a time. Everyone organizes their facts in a larger framework. The framework can stand even if individual facts are shown to be false. Indeed, the framework can be largely correct even if some of the details are wrong. This goes on all sides.

Maybe a related point: is it more rational to believe in no conspiracy theories than a select few? Shouldn't a debunker (someone who thinks the individual facts matter) acknowledge that some standing (but not confirmed) conspiracy theories are ("on the available evidence") more likely true than false. Otherwise, don't they risk seeming irrationally committed to a view that there's never any behind-the-scenes chicanery in historical events? Or any successful coverup of their true causes?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Otherwise, don't they risk seeming irrationally committed to a view that there's never any behind-the-scenes chicanery in historical events? Or any successful coverup of their true causes?

ive never in my life met anyone who thinks that.

and who cares if they did? you either have actual evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, or you don't. You either have actual evidence that Bigfoot exists/existed, or you don't. Based on the criteria you seem to be suggesting- Bigfoot is "more likely true" than not, simply because new species have been discovered to be true in the past like the Tasmanian tiger and that some people seem to think there is a lot of evidence Bigfoot exists.

yea its fun to think Bigfoot might be real. but that in no way means it is "more likely true".

Theories and opinions are built on individual facts. If all your facts are wrong (or misidentified) then you have no theory, just a wishful dream or an agenda you personally want to push for various reasons.
The world's problems can't be solved if the majority of humanity is living in a dream world they built on emotions, wrong facts, spin and misidentification. I pray real debunkers stick to analyzing specific claims of evidence, because they are a dying breed. We have enough philosophers and pseudo-psychologists in this world who get an ego boost from trying to "save people from themselves".. we don't need more.
The first step to recovery is admitting (to yourself) you have a problem. and i think this happens when people realize they have no actual facts or evidence to hold up their fantasies. I think people are capable of saving themselves, and debunkers should stick to giving them the real facts and modeling the tools they need to do that. That is the underlying reason, in my opinion, that hardcore conspiracy theorists are conspiracy theorists.. they just never learned how to analyze evidence honestly and often don't even understand what constitutes evidence.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
People can build a logically consistent world view with foundational false beliefs. You could perhaps laud their intellectual consistency, but they are still wrong.

My point isn't that this makes anyone right (or wrong) about any particular theory. I'm just saying that the willingness to believe in other conspiracy theories shouldn't be held against them. It's just a sign that they're able to think systematically about history. They realize that their views about 9/11 commits them to a more general view about how the world works. Maybe they shouldn't be so "scientific" about history, but at least they're thinking rationally.

At least the Mud Flooders are studying history and architecture. It depends on what the "conspiracy theories" are. Heck, some Flat Earthers try to think rationally about why they can see lasers across the lake. Often they will learn things that most normal people will not, and yey still think the Earth is flat.

I'm all for people looking into history, corruption, high finance, science, philosophy, and whatnot. These are great practical things we can encourage conspiracists to do.

Maybe a related point: is it more rational to believe in no conspiracy theories than a select few?
You should read my book :)

You seem overly concerned with some abstract subjective measure of rationality used as a rebuttal of straw man arguments. If you want to argue against some belief, then you should at least demonstrate it exists.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
If you want to argue against some belief, then you should at least demonstrate it exists.

Are you suggesting I misunderstood Benthamitemetric? I took the remark I quoted as an expression of the belief that a truther's commitment to multiple conspiracy theories should count against them, i.e., that it exposes some underlying irrationality or disposition to believe weird things. This view is certainly commonly held, probably most notably by Quassim Cassam, who attributes all manner of intellectual "vices" to conspiracy theorists. I think many people think of it as a kind of "gotcha" when a truther also lets on that they think there's something fishy about OKC and, of course, JFK, or CIA drug-running, or whatever.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
ive never in my life met anyone who thinks that.

Exactly. Me neither. So it's weird to meet people who seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory, often at a glance (and often while admitting that they've never heard about it before). The most interesting conversations, in my opinion, are between those who hold some conspiracy theories in common and disagree about others. If one believes (as everyone you've ever met believes) that there's something fishy about some historical events (and their official historical accounts) then it's good to get those on the table first. Find some common ground. That, after all, is where standards of evidence can be established.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
If one believes (as everyone you've ever met believes) that there's something fishy about some historical events (and their official historical accounts) then it's good to get those on the table first. Find some common ground. That, after all, is where standards of evidence can be established.

i dont know about that. how we are interpreting your words might be at crossroads though. if we believe (im making this up as i dont know political theories that well) the cia killed jfk, when there really is no good evidence for that but we think we have good evidence for that.. then the "standards of evidence we decide on are flawed from the get go.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Exactly. Me neither. So it's weird to meet people who seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory, often at a glance (and often while admitting that they've never heard about it before).
I'm a little confused, I thought you were saying you had never met any such people. So who are you referring to?
 

Thomas B

Active Member
I'm a little confused, I thought you were saying you had never met any such people. So who are you referring to?
The people that Deirdre and I have never met are "committed to a view that there's never any behind-the-scenes chicanery in historical events".
 

Thomas B

Active Member
i dont know about that. how we are interpreting your words might be at crossroads though. if we believe (im making this up as i dont know political theories that well) the cia killed jfk, when there really is no good evidence for that but we think we have good evidence for that.. then the "standards of evidence we decide on are flawed from the get go.
What I'm suggesting is that if you start with a conspiracy theory you believe then you can give people examples of the sort of thing you count as evidence for that belief. Then you point out that the sort of evidence someone else adduces for alien abductions or bigfoot don't meet your standard. But not because you are incapable of recognizing evidence of a conspiracy when you see it.

I sometimes get the sense that we hold conspiracy theorists to a standard of evidence that would actually, if we applied them to ourselves, prevent us from forming any beliefs at all about how institutions really work (behind the scenes).
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The people that Deirdre and I have never met are "committed to a view that there's never any behind-the-scenes chicanery in historical events".
So who are these people you have met who "seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory, often at a glance," and how does that really differ?
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
Are you suggesting I misunderstood Benthamitemetric? I took the remark I quoted as an expression of the belief that a truther's commitment to multiple conspiracy theories should count against them, i.e., that it exposes some underlying irrationality or disposition to believe weird things. This view is certainly commonly held, probably most notably by Quassim Cassam, who attributes all manner of intellectual "vices" to conspiracy theorists. I think many people think of it as a kind of "gotcha" when a truther also lets on that they think there's something fishy about OKC and, of course, JFK, or CIA drug-running, or whatever.

Count against them? You are misunderstanding my argument in the other thread. That argument is a purely positive argument about whether there is any basis to believe that an improved NIST report would be likely to have a significant impact on the number of people who believe in 911 truther conspiracies. It is not in any way a normative argument about the merits or demerits of conspiratorial ideation or those prone to it. In short, among other things, the fact that 911 truth beliefs are not an especially widely held conspiratorial belief compared to others concerning public events of similar historical and cultural importance (assassination of JFK, moon landings, Covid-19 pandemic, etc.) cuts against the notion that those who believe in 911 truth beliefs would not believe them but for some real or imagined deficiency in the NIST reports. No matter what the NIST reports said, the vast, vast majority of truthers would likely still be truthers because they are predisposed to the way of thinking that leads people to believe conspiracy theories of that type. (I won't repeat the rest of the related arguments here.)
 
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Thomas B

Active Member
So who are these people you have met who "seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory, often at a glance," and how does that really differ?
I'm not sure why this point is so important, but there's a long list of theories that many people (including public intellectuals) reject at a glance (9/11, JFK, etc.) without knowing very much about the evidence. They just know they're "conspiracy theories". None of them (at least none that I've met) would suggest that these theories are wrong because there's no chicanery in history at all.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
Count against them? You are misunderstanding my argument in the other thread...
Sorry about that. I'm not sure I understand your argument now. But I'll read it over again in the morning. I think there are many people who hold the view I wrongly attributed to you. But if that's not what you meant, that's good.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
if you start with a conspiracy theory you believe then you can give people examples of the sort of thing you count as evidence for that belief. Then you point out that the sort of evidence someone else adduces for alien abductions or bigfoot don't meet your standard. But not because you are incapable of recognizing evidence of a conspiracy when you see it.

:) no. then you are just making up your own rules as to what constitutes evidence.
9/11: it looks like controlled demolition
Bigfoot: it looked like a 7 foot hairy ape thing on 2 legs.
Aliens: it looked like an alien spaceship.

9/11: there is iron microspheres in the dust. there is iron microspheres in thermite. conclusion: thermite dust at ground Zero
Bigfoot: there is a big footprint in the dirt. Bigfoot has big feet. conclusion: Bigfoot must have been there.

etc etc
 

Thomas B

Active Member
:) no. then you are just making up your own rules as to what constitutes evidence.
Well, there's no universal standard of evidence, right? So, in a certain sense, we're always making them up as we go along. It's just that we're making them up together. The trick is to make sure that you and the person you're arguing with (or trying to debunk) can agree on some standards in some cases. Then you can take the tricky cases by analogy from there. And that can indeed lead to shifting the other person's standards.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Well, there's no universal standard of evidence, right?

i'm not sure how to process this question. but then i also dont get your "multi-generational organization" theory needed to shoot jfk. or why you would need a multi-generational organization to decide to fly some planes into the Twins to blame Iraq and steal their oil.

i think i am misunderstanding your premises.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not sure why this point is so important, but there's a long list of theories that many people (including public intellectuals) reject at a glance (9/11, JFK, etc.) without knowing very much about the evidence. They just know they're "conspiracy theories". None of them (at least none that I've met) would suggest that these theories are wrong because there's no chicanery in history at all.
You said "it's weird to meet people who seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory" - so who are they? Where did you meet them?

Are you sure you're not defining the "conspiracy theory" using some "I know it when I see it" metric? Like, if these mythical people don't reject a supposed conspiracy, then it's not a conspiracy theory?

Or are you saying that people reject conspiracy theories only if they are labeled as such? Like if you said "I wonder if the CIA had some warning of the attacks, but decided not to pass it on to the FBI" they would think that was reasonable, but if you said "there's a conspiracy theory that the CIA had some warning of the attacks, but decided not to pass it on to the FBI" they would reject it?

Or are you more specifically talking about 9/11 controlled demolition, because you don't think it's given a fair whack?
 

Thomas B

Active Member
You said "it's weird to meet people who seem ready to reject any conspiracy theory" - so who are they? Where did you meet them?

Are you sure you're not defining the "conspiracy theory" using some "I know it when I see it" metric? Like, if these mythical people don't reject a supposed conspiracy, then it's not a conspiracy theory?

The people I'm talking about are the ones who who have an "I-know-it-when-I-see metric". But I do understand what they mean. I think we can all distinguish an everyday accusation of political corruption or incompetence from what is commonly called a "conspiracy theory". Can't we?

I'm just saying that there are people (everywhere in media and academia) who are sensitive to what is "beyond the pale" and therefore don't give a particular class of theories a "fair whack" on principle. To even look at "the evidence" (i.e., to treat it like evidence) would be a violation of this principle.

I think debunkers walk a fine line here, which is why this forum interests me. I think many members know an idea that is in need of "debunking" rather than scientific investigation. In many ways, this site is organized around this principle (which I'll admit could be more clearly defined). How do we distinguish between being "really interested in something" and "going down the rabbit hole", for example? I think many of us simply know it when we see it.

To answer your question, I think people who are "really interested" in the collapse of the WTC have been unnecessarily forced down a rabbit hole (either as truthers or debunkers). In that sense, yes, I think the issue hasn't been given a fair treatment. There should be ordinary popular science (with no interest in conspiracy) to refer to, even for people who are thinking about controlled demolition.

But this thread was really about the grouping of these theories together in a way that discredits them by association. I thought that's what Benthamitemetric was doing, but I was wrong. We all seem to agree that believing in several conspiracy theories is not in itself a sign of poor thinking. I think that's a good sign.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
...so who are they? Where did you meet them?

I understand why you'd like a concrete answer to this question, but it would break the already fragile anonymity that I'm trying to maintain. I hope "forums like this", plus media and academia, is a sufficient answer.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
i'm not sure how to process this question. but then i also dont get your "multi-generational organization" theory needed to shoot jfk. or why you would need a multi-generational organization to decide to fly some planes into the Twins to blame Iraq and steal their oil.

i think i am misunderstanding your premises.

It's not so much you that you'd need a multi-generational organization but that many conspiracy theorists posit one. In fact, it's one way to distinguish between mere accusations of corruption and proper "conspiracy theories". A one-off caper isn't usually what they're talking about.

As to the other question, different fields have different standards of evidence. In the cases we're discussing historical, legal, and scientific standards could be invoked, but few of us are qualified to evaluate all three (or even one) kind. So we use the same commonsense standards as we do when forming beliefs about other current events. When we argue about whether there is evidence for one or another claim there's not always a clear-cut answer.

For example, I would argue that there's plenty of evidence for controlled demolition but no proof. That is, there are lots of data points that can be used to argue for controlled demolition. And there's of course lots of evidence against that proposition too (although there's embarrassingly little of a particular kind that I've been harping on about). In most cases of things that never happened, there's still lots of material that could be "taken into evidence" for it.

I just saw a Cockburn column in the Spectator that gets at this issue. It points out that the press reflexively qualifies Trump's expressions of what is clearly opinion as claims made "without evidence". So even when he says, for example, that Kyle Rittenhouse "seemed to be acting in self-defense" and explicitly references the videos of the event, NPR qualifies it with the phrase "without evidence".

I think truthers are often treated in the same way. They'll present an opinion or a suspicion with reference to some set of known facts (or videos or whatever) and then be asked, "Do you have any direct evidence that 9/11 was an inside job?" First, they just gave you some (whether you think it makes the case or not) and, second, people are entitled to hold plenty of opinions "without evidence". If we didn't we'd have to admit that we have no idea what our government is up to.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
But this thread was really about the grouping of these theories together in a way that discredits them by association. I thought that's what Benthamitemetric was doing, but I was wrong. We all seem to agree that believing in several conspiracy theories is not in itself a sign of poor thinking. I think that's a good sign.

Well, you misconstrued my argument in the other thread to be something it was not, but, just because that argument had nothing to do with the merits or demerits of conspiracy theory ideation does not mean that I would agree that believing several conspiracy theories at one time is not, in-and-of-itself, a sign of "poor thinking." To the contrary, I think it is a very clear sign of "poor thinking." People who believe in multiple conspiracies are often epistomelogically crippled and unable to logically assess or substantively evaluate those theories or the other facets of the world we live in. That doesn't mean they are stupid from a raw intelligence perspective, but they are certainly not clear thinkers. "Poor thinkers" is maybe not the best way to describe them, but it is close enough.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
To even look at "the evidence" (i.e., to treat it like evidence) would be a violation of this principle.
to be fair, there are some theories that are just too outrageous to entertain. People will just dismiss lizard people for example.. but then the only "evidence" is glitchy video they dont understand.
when i was a moderator, you wouldnt believe some of the cts presented by newbies... big gishgallops of magical entities and magical energy sources and how that ties to the jews etc. i would delete those without contemplation (gish gallops are against Posting Guidelines), because they presented a book that would have taken me 20 hours to comb through to even find the so called evidence in there.

Which is why examining one specific claim of evidence is the superior method, in my opinion. die-hards aside, the majority of people arent willing to invest days of their lives on a subject they arent particularly interested in. Which is also why so few people actually read the NIST report.


I think many members know an idea that is in need of "debunking" rather than scientific investigation. In many ways, this site is organized around this principle

I dont understand what you are saying here. have you looked at the 911 forum? I can tell you haven't yet.

These guys have minutely examined every theory, down to spending pages discussing and providing documentation regarding one bolt connection or the limits of plane flight when at a 30 degree turning angle vs a 5 degree angle (<my numbers are off im sure).

And MB doesnt debunk "ideas" with things like 911. It debunks specific claims of evidence, each in its own thread or some claims of evidence have multiple threads.

How do we distinguish between being "really interested in something" and "going down the rabbit hole", for example?
If you BELIEVE it, with no good evidence to back you up you are in the rabbit hole. I am really interested in crypto stuff but i dont believe it, because there is no good evidence that warrants believing it.



We all seem to agree that believing in several conspiracy theories is not in itself a sign of poor thinking.

I don't agree. But i also dont hold this opinion just about conspiracy theorists. The same could be said for people who believe in multiple cryptozoology animals or beings. Or new age woo believers. Or people that believe eating lemons will cure your cancer and other weird health woo ideas. Or people who are Democrats ;) who believe multiple things that aren't true/factual. Or some religious groups. etc etc.

I do strongly agree with your premise that people should give all ideas a fair shake 9except lizard people and black goo) and should actually spend time researching things before just dismissing them. But your bringing it up on MB is a bit odd, as here all things - regarding what we agree are "conspiracy theories" - are examined in sometimes excruciating detail.

You keep making general statements about Metabunk, (or trying to tie MB to other sites and their methods) when you obviously haven't spent anytime actually seeing what MB is. Ive told you before, perhaps you can spend a week or two reading the 911 forum so that your future ponderings will be more informed. ie. you are dismissing MB without bothering to look at the evidence.

this statement:

I hope "forums like this", plus media and academia, is a sufficient answer.

only proves you have no idea what you are talking about. If some [non-political] threads read like people are just dismissing an idea, it's only because they have already examined that idea for years and in detail. You've brought up wanting a non-debunker and non-government source for a 911-for-Dummies type book 3x, are we supposed to rehash that discussion, in detail, every single time you bring it up? No.


When we argue about whether there is evidence for one or another claim there's not always a clear-cut answer.

There isn't good evidence that the Twins were brought down by controlled demolition. Trust me. I know because i had to read the 911 discussions and examinations for for 6 years. and, as a Moderator, i also had to look a ton up to make sure cters and debunkers were posting accurate information.

maybe you could stop talking in generalities and prove me wrong by giving specific examples. But not historical examples, i dont care what was done or maybe done in the past. ex: just because a man cheated on his wife in the past, doesn't prove he is cheating on her now.


In most cases of things that never happened, there's still lots of material that could be "taken into evidence" for it.

I wish you would tell us your real name, because if i ever end up in front of a jury i want to make sure you are not on the jury! especially since you already know already it never happened.



So even when he says, for example, that Kyle Rittenhouse "seemed to be acting in self-defense" and explicitly references the videos of the event, NPR qualifies it with the phrase "without evidence".

yea the media lies through it's teeth. But you can't say that just because alot of media outlets care more about political activism vs actually researching before they write an article, that means the MB members, you won't name, are biased about 911 issues. I understand that if members show overt bias about say political matters, it is harder to trust they arent being biased about other topics.. but that falls under poor thinking.
We do have a few members, i'm sure you haven't run across yet, that just seemingly dismiss everything... but that doesn't mean i just dismiss them as biased if they do present evidence about something. I check out their evidence, just like i'm not going to dismiss everything i read in NPR just because they dont know all the video of Rittenhouse (including WHY they started to attack him before he shot anyone) is available online or because NPR don't care and are just trying to win an election.

Your general, "people did one or more things wrong in the past, so they must always be wrong or evil" and "we can make up what we consider evidence as we go along" philosophy is tiresome. Conspiracy theorists have already brought up those straw man arguments a thousand times on MB.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
... if i ever end up in front of a jury i want to make sure you are not on the jury! especially since you already know already it never happened.
The surveillance video of someone who looks like you is evidence that you were at the scene of the crime. Your movie ticket and your friend's testimony is evidence for your alibi. The jury has to take those two pieces of evidence and decide among two propositions about your whereabouts on the night in question, both of which can't be true.

But I once again get the sense word that I'm being tiresome, and I'm not interested in wasting your time. Thanks for the discussion.
 
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Thomas B

Active Member
Well, you misconstrued my argument in the other thread to be something it was not, but, just because that argument had nothing to do with the merits or demerits of conspiracy theory ideation does not mean that I would agree...

This is confusing. Mick asked me who I thought believed the idea I was criticizing (namely, that believing multiple conspiracy theories counts against you as a thinker). I named you. You denied believing it. I acknowledged the misunderstanding. But now you're disagreeing with me about it? So you do actually hold the belief I attributed to you? You do actually count it against someone's thinking if they hold multiple conspiracy theories? I'm not sure how to proceed.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
This is confusing. Mick asked me who I thought believed the idea I was criticizing (namely, that believing multiple conspiracy theories counts against you as a thinker). I named you. You denied believing it. I acknowledged the misunderstanding. But now you're disagreeing with me about it? So you do actually hold the belief I attributed to you? You do actually count it against someone's thinking if they hold multiple conspiracy theories? I'm not sure how to proceed.

You are mixing up the arguments and threads. My post in the other thread was purely about whether you had any basis to believe that an improved NIST report would make any material difference in the number of people who believed the 911 truth conspiracy theories. I argued it would not, and one of the pieces of evidence that I offered in support of that argument is the fact that most people who believe in 911 truth conspiracy theories also believe in several other significant conspiracies, which, I argued further, is strong evidence that they did not come to believe 911 truth conspiracy theories because of something NIST said or did not say. That is in no way a normative argument about the way conspiracy theorists think; it is merely a recognition of the clearly established fact that those who believe in one conspiracy theory tend to believe in multiple conspiracy theories. Nothing in that argument turns on whether it is rational, irrational, poor thinking, clear thinking or any other kind of thinking for someone to believe in multiple conspiracy theories at once, so your bringing up that point in the context of that argument is just a red herring, which you yourself seem to recognize at least at some level because you even made a new thread to do so.

And me pointing out to you that my previous argument does not at all rest on the merits of conspiratorial ideation does not in any way require that I take a stance one way or another on the merits of conspiratorial ideation. Since you then tried to ascribe to me a stance anyway, however, I have clarified my general stance--that people who hold multiple conspiracy theory beliefs at once are generally epistomelogically crippled to at least some extent--for you, which stance has nothing to do with my argument in the other thread. And, by the way, not only does my recognition of the fact that people who believe in multiple conspiracy theories are generally epistemologically crippled not affect my argument in the other thread, it also does not affect any of my other arguments concerning the merits of any particular conspiracy theory, so I'm not sure what you are trying to get at with your claim I am somehow "counting [the holding of conspiratorial beliefs] against" someone in the context of this discussion.
 
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Thomas B

Active Member
You are mixing up the arguments and threads...so I'm not sure what you are trying to get at...
Truth be told, I'm a bit confused about how this forum works. I've been told (by Deirdre) that I should figure that out first. It seems like a wise strategy. What I thought I had done was precisely to unmix two lines of argument by moving one of them to a different thread.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
But I once again get the sense that I'm being tiresome
This is not a philosophy forum. People here are interested in the nuts and bolts of claims of evidence, investigating those claims, and communicating effectively with people who believe in those claims.

It is already common practice not to label people as "irrational", "stupid", "crazy", etc. Indeed this practice is enshrined in policy that began a decade ago on Contrail Science, and has been in use since the start of Metabunk in 2013.
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/politeness-policy.1224/

I have always held that the vast majority of conspiracy theorists are good people who think they are doing the right thing. But their beliefs generally exist in a crippled epistemology of limited and unreliable information sources.

Should we laud them for being somewhat logically consistent within a framework built upon crap?

The observation that people rarely believe in one conspiracy theory is not some kind of judgment, unless you are judging all of humanity. Obviously, if your personal experiences, knowledge sets, and skill levels lead you to believe in conspiracy A, then those same factors will contribute to belief in B, C, and Z. Further, the very act of accepting A as true provides an obvious foundation for accepting other similar theories more readily.

Everyone has a line of demarcation that they draw through the spectrum of proposed beliefs that constitute conspiracy theories. A better, but much more complicated, indicator of "good thinking" would be where they draw that line. But really we need to look, at each individual, why they draw the line the way they draw it. I think we understand people best not by knowing what they believe, but by knowing what they do not - and specifically their reasons for rejecting what is just over their personal line.

Metabunk 2020-09-03 07-41-07.jpg
 

Thomas B

Active Member
This is not a philosophy forum.
Maybe I'm just tired. I'm having a hard time understanding the demarcation line where "irrational", "stupid", and "crazy" are on one side of a policy of "communicating effectively" and "[epistemologically] crippled", "built upon crap," and (Deirdre's recent) "you have no idea what you are talking about" are on the other side.

I'll take a step back and reflect on these "philosophical" issues. Thanks, as always, for your time.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe I'm just tired. I'm having a hard time understanding the demarcation line where "irrational", "stupid", and "crazy" are on one side of a policy of "communicating effectively" and "[epistemologically] crippled", "built upon crap," and (Deirdre's recent) "you have no idea what you are talking about" are on the other side.
The first is highly personally pejorative and often inaccurate, and unproductive if you communicate it to the individual you want to have a conversation with.

The second is plain speaking in a meta-discussion not involving any specific theories, groups, or individuals.

Example 1: "Thomas B is crazy and irrational, because he thinks 9/11 controlled demolition is somewhat plausible"
Example 2: "The evidence base used to justify belief in 9/11 CD is largely specious, mostly demonstrably false claims or unfounded speculation. Low quality or, in the vernacular, 'crap' evidence"

Neither example is something I'd lead with in a discussion with a truther, but the second one is at least accurate, and something you can hope to bring your friend to eventually realize.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
Truth be told, I'm a bit confused about how this forum works. I've been told (by Deirdre) that I should figure that out first. It seems like a wise strategy. What I thought I had done was precisely to unmix two lines of argument by moving one of them to a different thread.

Well, you did the right thing in making a new thread to discuss a new topic. The problem, from my perspective, is that you keep trying to tie the new topic back to me holding some unspecified person's belief in multiple conspiracies against them, as if (i) I actually did that (I didn't) and (ii) me actually doing that was an error upon which some other argument I made was based (which is not the case because I didn't do that). Maybe there is an academic discussion to be had about how to best evaluate the relative degree of rationality inherent in the thinking of a person who believes multiple conspiracy theories versus that of a person who believes just one (I'll likely sit that one out, however), but you need not tie that discussion back to something I did not say, even if something I did say prompted you to think of the topic.
 

Thomas B

Active Member
...I'll likely sit that one out...
Yes, and it doesn't look like anyone else found my topic of interest either. My approach does clearly seem "academic" and "philosophical" (and not, as I thought, simply "meta") by the standards of this forum. I'll take Deirdre's advice and (if I find the time) bone up on the archives. If I then think I have contribution to make, I'll try again.

I still don't quite understand what I did wrong in regard to you specifically. At this point you seem to be making a distinction between "holding something against" the person you're arguing with and noticing "a very clear sign of 'poor thinking'" in them. The view I was attributing to you using the "holding against" phrase was, in my mind, indistinguishable from the "poor thinking" sign. I.e., I meant you were holding it against them as thinkers. In any case, I'm sorry I annoyed you by quoting you for the idea I was criticizing. Like I say, it's not likely to happen again for at least a few weeks.

Once again, thanks, everyone, for your time. Happy debunking!
 
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benthamitemetric

Senior Member
Yes, and it doesn't look like anyone else found my topic of interest either. My approach does clearly seem "academic" and "philosophical" (and not, as I thought, simply "meta") by the standards of this forum. I'll take Deirdre's advice and (if I find the time) bone up on the archives. If I then think I have contribution to make, I'll try again.

I still don't quite understand what I did wrong in regard to you specifically. At this point you seem to be making a distinction between "holding something against" the person you're arguing with and noticing "a very clear sign of 'poor thinking'" in them. The view I was attributing to you using the "holding against" phrase was, in my mind, indistinguishable from the "poor thinking" sign. I.e., I meant you were holding it against them as thinkers. In any case, I'm sorry I annoyed you by quoting you for the idea I was criticizing. Like I say, it's not likely to happen again for at least a few weeks.

Once again, thanks, everyone, for your time. Happy debunking!

It is actually very easy to recognize that someone has a problem and still not hold that problem against them in any way. None of my arguments relied on holding conspiracists' problems against them.
 
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