Why we debunk and who do we reach.

Critical Thinker

Senior Member.
There have been other threads started about 'why we debunk' that CTers started in order to cast aspersions about why people would debunk.They do not seem to grasp the idea that there are people that would take the time to dispel falsehoods without someone paying them to do so. I, on the other hand, have always been puzzled why people do not speak up when they hear someone spreading misinformation with the intent to manipulate others. Various members have addressed why they debunk and who they want to reach, in various threads throughout Metabunk.

As for myself, I am bothered by people intentionally (or otherwise) spreading misinformation... I think the best decisions (politically, environmentally, and in every facet of life) for people and humanity in general can only be reached by examining the available evidence, discarding that which is irrelevant or erroneous, and applying reason, rationality and fairness in order to determine what decision should be made.

Who I seek to reach are the people that are open to looking at evidence in forming an opinion. People that get exposed to the emphatic fear-mongering and misinformation from conspiracy promoters, people that don't just jump on the band wagon of hysteria, but instead take the few minutes that are needed to investigate further the counterarguments, who consider the reliability of the various sources and then use reason to reach an opinion.

Anyhow.... the reason I started this thread is that I happened upon a Facebook conversation between a conspiracy promoter and one of her Facebook friends. I saw the usual tactics from the conspiracy promoters to influence their friend, but he seemed determined to do his own research into whether or not there is a worldwide chemtrail conspiracy and if what he was being told by the conspiracy promoters held up to scrutiny.....

The good news is that people's efforts to debunk the misinformation circulated by the conspiracy crowd does have a positive effect. These havens of sanity that Mick administers, where the various claims can all be found in one place, along with a reasoned analysis of the claimed evidence is an invaluable resource for anyone with a little time to investigate the claims.

Case in point, here Stacy Weiss and Carly LeBrun try to recruit their Facebook friend, Bill Barnes via Internet Memes and photos that have been spread and debunked of airplane interiors. Bill decides to do his own research, other than what he is being told to rely on.... the result is that he found Contrailscience and posted the link on "How to Debunk Chemtrails" to his own page..... much to the dismay of the conspiracy promoters.

Sorry for the rather long post, but I wanted to show how the chemtrail promoters tried to inundate their friend with bunk, scare-mongering and a large assortment of logical fallacies. I want people to be aware of and to recognize those tactics being used. In this case, to quote W.C. Fields; “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” was the tactic employed by the conspiracy propmoters


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Stacey Weiss

Charlotte Michelle Province Ian Espinosa Rob Schick John Graf Gail Susan Gail Lansing Cindi Conners please add a comment and thoughts thx!

Share · April 23 · Edited

After doing his own research into those rather extraordinary claims being made.....


Mick West

Staff member
Who I seek to reach are the people that are open to looking at evidence in forming an opinion. People that get exposed to the emphatic fear-mongering and misinformation from conspiracy promoters, people that don't just jump on the band wagon of hysteria, but instead take the few minutes that are needed to investigate further the counterarguments, who consider the reliability of the various sources and then use reason to reach an opinion.

Agreed. And this example I think demonstrate there are two distinct types of debunking: discussing and demonstrating.

Discussing would be trying to persuade someone via direct communication - i.e. talking to them, or engaging them on Twitter, Facebook, email, or forum discussions (like here).

Demonstrating would be creating resources for people to use when they go looking for more information. Providing clear information and simple reasoned arguments that they can consider at leisure in a non-confrontational way.

Of course there's overlap here. One an provide sources of information in a discussion, and sometimes a discussion alone can be all that is needed to work out the kinks in reasoning. And discussion are great for understanding the mindset of believers. But I see it in a couple of ways:

Show, don't tell - Focusing on showing them things they can check for themselves, rather than coming across as "My opinion is that you are wrong"

Debunking effort multiplier - Skeptics waste a lot of time debunking. There are several threads here (and I'm guilty of this too) that are just long digressing arguments, often over arcane points that are essentially irrelevant, just raised to win points in a debate. On other forums like the International Skeptics there are multi-part threads with over ten thousand posts. That's a lot of debunking effort that is just whistling in the wind. If instead people took their talents at exposition and analysis and distilled that down into useful articles on a focused aspect of a topic, then you'd have something much more useful. A debunking that could be used again and again.

The above is a good example. I didn't engage Bill Barnes at all. I spent time (a few years ago, that's a 2011 post) writing posts on Contrail Science. Years later he finds that post, and it's useful to him. Contrail Science gets thousands of visitors every month. That's a lot of multiplication of my efforts back from 2011.


Senior Member.
I just came across this post in an UK activist anti-fracking group. I'd already unfollowed a similar group last year as it began to get infected with unrelated conspiracy theory promotion and my calls for tighter moderation went unanswered. I'm not the most effective de-bunker (not that I really qualify) but when I get hit with so many posts in such a short time (effectively crapflooding) as I did, I can't respond effectively with the end result that only a small percentage of posts were fracking related and I ended wasting too much time scrolling past them all each day.

I've also suspended/redirected my support of previous other campaigns for similar reasons - which is what actually drove me to contrailscience and subsequently here (as I hope will the last post in this thread :) ) It was becoming apparent I was drowning in a tsunami of woo and I was at risk of not knowing which way was up! contrail science and metabunk, are I suppose, the lifeboat that rescued me.
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