Occasions where you don't engage a misconception CT?

riprup

New Member
The only real debunking I've ever done was to the contrail beliefs of a former co-worker in around 2009/10. I'd never heard the chemtrail spiel before that occasion but it was an amalgamation of what I now recognize as the usual talking points. That particular occasion was conversational, typical small talk that occurs on a work break and was non-confrontational and even friendly considering how diametrically opposed the two of us were.

However, I find that when friends and family members on Facebook share or like articles supporting various CT's or political viewpoints that I disagree with, my inclination is to roll my eyes and keep scrolling. Do any of you have this experience often? Is it a "go along to get along" situation or just an unwillingness to wade into the potential morass knowing that noone's mind will really be changed?
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member
The only real debunking I've ever done was to the contrail beliefs of a former co-worker in around 2009/10. I'd never heard the chemtrail spiel before that occasion but it was an amalgamation of what I now recognize as the usual talking points. That particular occasion was conversational, typical small talk that occurs on a work break and was non-confrontational and even friendly considering how diametrically opposed the two of us were.

However, I find that when friends and family members on Facebook share or like articles supporting various CT's or political viewpoints that I disagree with, my inclination is to roll my eyes and keep scrolling. Do any of you have this experience often? Is it a "go along to get along" situation or just an unwillingness to wade into the potential morass knowing that noone's mind will really be changed?
Depends on the situation for me rip.. If its something I can explain succinctly and can cause a lil provocation of thought then Ill take the time to debunk it and provide links as evidence for them to go read on their own. Other things that are more visceral or emotional, I tend to shy away from because its difficult to get through people's emotions... especially loved ones.. they tend to turn into arguments and are filled with strawmen or very badly misrepresented evidence that they take for gospel because they got it on Facebook.

Family friends, or co-workers, Ill give them the basics but when they start going off with the talking points or regurgitating crap or are just way down the rabbit hole, I end the conversation with "look.. youve got the information, go read it.. try to find websites that ARENT biased by political views (IE Political rags, infowars etc) and look into it yourself. If you need help understanding the science, come talk to me.. I know a BUNCH of guys that are well versed in a great many things.. so if I cant give you the answer, I know people who can," and then walk away. There are times you just have to pick your battles.
 

Belfrey

Senior Member
I occasionally run into believers of chemtrails and other CTs when I'm doing consultations for work, and as I rule I give them the "smile and nod" treatment. It's not worth going into in a short bit of time, and it would probably just antagonize them. When it comes to family, friends, and co-workers, I take it on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether I think they will be receptive to polite discussion, whether I think that they might get personally upset... and whether I care if they do. As a rule, I usually let it pass.

I also am VERY reluctant to discuss it in a public setting where my real name is known. Not because I'm concerned about my reputation, but rather because there are a lot of unstable people in the conspiracy theorist community, and we've all seen how some of them threaten violence against debunkers. I have a wife and kid, and it wouldn't be fair to expose them to risk (however slight) due to my hobby. I'd love to confront Harold Saive's claims at the local Alachua County Environmental Board meetings where he presents, for example, but I can just imagine him posting web articles about me afterwards... not worth it.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
It depends for me. I'll normally pull up most people on stuff, but I have a few friends who I ignore when they go off on one, cos other aspects of our friendship are worth more than the hassle of arguing over something like reptilian lizard people and stuff.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I also am VERY reluctant to discuss it in a public setting where my real name is known. Not because I'm concerned about my reputation, but rather because there are a lot of unstable people in the conspiracy theorist community, and we've all seen how some of them threaten violence against debunkers. I have a wife and kid, and it wouldn't be fair to expose them to risk (however slight) due to my hobby.
I totally understand that, and I would probably go about things slightly differently if I had kids.

If there is some risk of people taking it personally, I'd recommend only doing the bare minimum. Just neutral fact-checking with no added commentary. Stuff like "here's an old weather book that says contrails can persist". Probably lost on the true believer, but you don't know that until you put out the first feelers.
 

riprup

New Member
It depends for me. I'll normally pull up most people on stuff, but I have a few friends who I ignore when they go off on one, cos other aspects of our friendship are worth more than the hassle of arguing over something like reptilian lizard people and stuff.
That sounds like something a reptilian lizard person would say.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member
often, only if i measure real harm may arise from misinfo being spread i will gently push back, add a correction or alternate view point. MB has schooled me in some better methods of managing people and bunk
 

Leifer

Senior Member
Pick your battles.
Sometimes I don't comment at all when my 83yo father receives another box of nutritional supplements (other than asking him, "how much and how often are they sending you this stuff ?").
I end up researching them on my own, to see if there's potential interactions with his (prescription) medications.
If it doesn't harm him, and it makes him feel better mentally, I don't make it an issue.

But I may comment when he sends emails to the whole family, about some new "miracle herb" he recently found on the web.
 

Engineer

Active Member
Short answer: It depends how far they appear to have fallen down the rabbit hole. My arms are only so long and I generally have limited time for serious digging. If it's a kid or a dear friend or family member I will generally show up with a shovel. If it's one of my kids I generally show up with an excavator. :D
 

Veronica!

New Member
The only real debunking I've ever done was to the contrail beliefs of a former co-worker in around 2009/10. I'd never heard the chemtrail spiel before that occasion but it was an amalgamation of what I now recognize as the usual talking points. That particular occasion was conversational, typical small talk that occurs on a work break and was non-confrontational and even friendly considering how diametrically opposed the two of us were.

However, I find that when friends and family members on Facebook share or like articles supporting various CT's or political viewpoints that I disagree with, my inclination is to roll my eyes and keep scrolling. Do any of you have this experience often? Is it a "go along to get along" situation or just an unwillingness to wade into the potential morass knowing that noone's mind will really be changed?
My dad has an old friend from his youth who he has just gotten back in touch with via email. They've been going at it back and forth for about a year. Every day, my dad gets about 6 messages from this friend. The topics range from the NWO to 9/11 hoax 'evidence' to 'Obama is a gay man/Muslim/socialist/lizard' stuff, with Fukushima being the thing he sends over most now.
About six months ago, my dad had another old friend over. I took out my camera and took pictures of the two of them as they giggled and told stories and talked. My dad told his email friend and his email friend requested the photos. Dad, bless his heart, isn't the most adept at transferring photos from my little camera to his computer, nonetheless attaching them. I decided to keep things simple and do it from my email. I sent them over, the email friend said thank you and I went to bed.
Next morning I wake up and my inbox is full of all manner of bunk. Twelve messages in a single night, one of which contained six hours of 'shocking documentary' footage on why a certain religious group owns Hollywood. Additionally, there were three emails about Obama's secret Islamic sex lair or some such garbage, two on WTC7, four on Fukushima, one on vaccines, and one containing a video of his cat (my dad told him that I like cats).
I sent him a response saying thank you for the cat video, but I'm not interested in the other things. He apologized and all was quiet for a few days.
Then it started again and I asked him a bit more firmly this time if he wouldn't mind not sending them. They stopped and then arrived again. I'm a full-time college student. I was itching to debunk his claims but didn't have time. Dad tried and it didn't work. I asked him one more time. It didn't work, so I set up a special folder for his emails to go to and got to work.
Every week or so, I added his email to a newsletter list for some website that wasn't about something he cared about. At first I planned to do scientific ones, ones based on human rights for the groups of people he theorizes about. I decided against it because I didn't want him to get emails from, say, a LGBT dating service that he could then harrass. I decided on irritating or weird ones instead, just to play it safe.
I started out with a scrapbooking one that promised two emails a day for only the most scrap-obsessed internet user.
Then, I chose one dedicated to model trains. Three emails a week.
I put him on a Minneapolis dog walking group's mailing list next. An email a day. He lives in Southern California.
A pecan farm in Georgia. An email every Thursday, detailing the newest pecan news.
A cruise line, an email about every three days.
A Peter Frampton fan club. Probably not as frequent, but I couldn't resist.
Sephora.
You get the picture. My dad gets far fewer emails now, mostly because his friend has to delete all the ones that he is subscribed to in order to reply.
I like to think that in some small way I've stopped the spreading of bunk, while raising awareness of the latest pecan harvesting technology, acid-free paper, makeup and Twin Cities dog walking routes. :)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Every week or so, I added his email to a newsletter list for some website that wasn't about something he cared about. At first I planned to do scientific ones, ones based on human rights for the groups of people he theorizes about. I decided against it because I didn't want him to get emails from, say, a LGBT dating service that he could then harrass. I decided on irritating or weird ones instead, just to play it safe.
I also would not advocate such an approach in general. But it makes you wonder if part of the problem with the bunk spreaders is that they live in a walled garden, where all they see growing is bunk. Perhaps lobbing some non-bunk over the wall from time to time might make them curious about what is beyond the wall.

Or in less flowery language: exposing people to a broader view of the world might help them put their beliefs in perspective.

If it were helpful, it would certainly be a very long-term thing.
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
I also would not advocate such an approach in general. But it makes you wonder if part of the problem with the bunk spreaders is that they live in a walled garden, where all they see growing is bunk. Perhaps lobbing some non-bunk over the wall from time to time might make them curious about what is beyond the wall.

Or in less flowery language: exposing people to a broader view of the world might help them put their beliefs in perspective.

If it were helpful, it would certainly be a very long-term thing.
or even tips on HOW to look for factual information. I think 'we' all too often, assume people know how to look things up on the internet. (My mom after 10 years now still cant grasp how to copy/paste on her computer!)

and i dont know how people look things up on an internet phone if they dont have an actual computer. (can you copy/paste on an internet phone?) Seems like a total pain to me, all that 'typing' on a tiny phone keyboard.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
and i dont know how people look things up on an internet phone if they dont have an actual computer. (can you copy/paste on an internet phone?) Seems like a total pain to me, all that 'typing' on a tiny phone keyboard.
You can copy/paste, you've just got to accept that everything takes about 10x as long on a phone (at least it does for me).

So people who tend to use their phone as their primary internet access tool might tend to just "consume and share" than actually look things up.
 

Veronica!

New Member
Not a path I'd recommend except in extreme cases.

That seems like it qualified.
When it got to the point that I was receiving his emails so often that I had to wade through a sea of bunk to find an important email from my college counselor, I said enough was enough. Needing to pass 100 CT emails to reach an email sent less than a week ago is ridiculous. I admit I wasn't exactly thinking the most logically (I could just have blocked him or set up the folder and ignored him happily), but I didn't think that a fifty-something-year-old man sending a nineteen-year-old woman beheading footage, crude CT humor and the like was even REMOTELY appropriate. I had midterms and a internship to worry about, and it wasn't like someone that invested in the CT community as going to suddenly see the light. I wanted my hands to be clean and him not to be able to figure out it was me.
But it makes you wonder if part of the problem with the bunk spreaders is that they live in a walled garden, where all they see growing is bunk. Perhaps lobbing some non-bunk over the wall from time to time might make them curious about what is beyond the wall.

Or in less flowery language: exposing people to a broader view of the world might help them put their beliefs in perspective.

If it were helpful, it would certainly be a very long-term thing.
Evidently I did inadvertently help him as now he occasionally sends my dad emails about how he has suddenly discovered the wonders of model trains. Maybe that'll get him away from Natural News for a few precious moments of the day and he can get some of that fresh air, look into the sky and see normal cloud formations instead of chemtrails... I hope. Last night I scoured the internet for an offer on reduced-price geocacheing gear and gave the site his email. I hope that helps some.
 

Leifer

Senior Member
Parents, or the elderly who have recently discovered the internet (like my father), tend to marvel at all the "new info" they find.
Convincing them that there is a lot of superstition, deceptive ads, and opinionated bunk...out there on this new medium, can be difficult.
It's very easy for the innocently gullible and other well-meaning people to believe something "they read on the net".
 

Engineer

Active Member
My latest experience with someone who was involved with conspiracy theories happened this week. They were convinced that chemtrails were responsible for a medical condition they had been diagnosed with , fibromyalgia, and commented that the government was trying to kill us all. When I suggested that it was unlikely they would be trying to kill their own children and families, she countered with " but they have underground bunkers for all their extended families".

Time to disengage. :)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
They were convinced that chemtrails were responsible for a medical condition they had been diagnosed with
In my experience, people who attribute their physical ailments (which are usually just getting old and/or somatization) to chemtrails are not very receptive to alternative explanations. It's a notch along the spectrum from "chemtrails are secret geoengineering", which is (relatively) the more reasonable theory.
 
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