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Forum Thread

Conspiracy theories and the conspiracy mindset

bonkman 1,780 October 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM
I was going to post this article in the current iteration of the "Global Warming is nonsense! A tabloid says so!" thread but I realized that it's application is far more broad and relevant to TP.

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/the...iracy_meme

It seems like more and more often, posters resort to (cling to) claims of conspiracy. This could be about global warming, war, the President enacting a gun ban, 9/11, or even something silly like the sinking of the Titanic.

Is it trolling to resort to conspiracy theory tactics? Clearly, some conspiracies are legitimate. This article explores a bit how to tell the difference. Should we start warning/banning posters who repeatedly post possibilities of a theory as fact? What if they continue to do so after the theory (or aspects of it) are demonstrably shown to be false? Or, should we accept this as a legitimate debate tactic since we are indeed choosing to spend time on TP and could always just browse other areas of SD?

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#2
Conspiracy theorists (or at least most of them) actually believe in the conspiracy and are very seldom swayed. Even if you "prove" to the general public that the conspiracy theory is wrong, very often the conspiracy theorists are truly still unconvinced. How can you warn/ban someone for arguing for what they truly believe in?
There are some conspiracy theorists here on TP that spam threads with their message every 30 seconds. They should be warned/banned for the spamming but not because they believe something different. From reading your posts in the GW threads, it seems to me that you have a hard time accepting that other people don't believe what you believe. Is this why you are proposing warning points for conspiracy theorists?
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#3
Great article. Bookmarked, thanks.

I think everyone needs to understand Dawkin's work on memetics and do some self-exploration in their own lives to see if they're the product of what's rattling around in their minds, or if what's rattling around in their minds is a product of them. In other words, are you a host or a real thinker?

One thing is for sure, science is NOT about discovering the truth. Anyone trying to convince you otherwise has something to sell.
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disgruntled caveman
1,780 Reputation
Original Poster
#4
Quote from BigBananaMess View Post :
Why don't you just mod alert anyone who disagrees with you and let them decide if it is trolling?

Oh, wait, you already do that.

In that case, this topic is nothing more than a rant.

People aren't always going to agree with you regardless of what "evidence" you dig up and present. Take a couple deep breaths, calm down, and accept it.
No, there's a difference between having a difference of opinion and claiming as true things that are patently false.

Repeating these things even when shown otherwise is CLEARLY trolling.

However, the point of my posting this is to try to establish when such a thing is ok and when it is the equivalent of plugging your ears and saying "lalala can't hear you."

Also, I've never MAed any post except mine.
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L10: Grand Master
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#5
Quote from bonkman View Post :
What if they continue to do so after the theory (or aspects of it) are demonstrably shown to be false?
I find the Ignore List to be quite effective at removing them from the lists of posts I see. woot
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disgruntled caveman
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#6
Quote from barnz008 View Post :

One thing is for sure, science is NOT about discovering the truth. Anyone trying to convince you otherwise has something to sell.
Expand on this. What is science about, then?
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disgruntled caveman
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#7
Quote from andyfico View Post :
Conspiracy theorists (or at least most of them) actually believe in the conspiracy and are very seldom swayed. Even if you "prove" to the general public that the conspiracy theory is wrong, very often the conspiracy theorists are truly still unconvinced. How can you warn/ban someone for arguing for what they truly believe in?
There are some conspiracy theorists here on TP that spam threads with their message every 30 seconds. They should be warned/banned for the spamming but not because they believe something different. From reading your posts in the GW threads, it seems to me that you have a hard time accepting that other people don't believe what you believe. Is this why you are proposing warning points for conspiracy theorists?
Is it spamming if you believe it?

From reading my posts in the GW thread, the correct statement should be "you have a hard time accepting that other people don't believe what scientific data establishes." Should I, or anyone, be accepting that people spout wrong information?

But, more related to conspiracy theories, how do we know its wrong? How should we allocate our time? Should we just allow any thread to devolve into people spouting stupid conspiracy theories on the topic? Is that productive to debate? Is that what we're hoping to get out of TP?
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All downhill from here...
374 Reputation
#8
Quote from andyfico View Post :
How can you warn/ban someone for arguing for what they truly believe in?
The same way one warns or bans a skinhead for posting what he truly believes.

IMO it's not a question of sincerity, but of value. If a person lacks the ability or the willingness to participate in quality debate, then he or she has no business participating in what is, ostensibly, a debate forum. The internet has an unlimited number of "places" to spout unfiltered nonsense. It's neither unfair nor unreasonable to think that some places can be pruned to serve other purposes.
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#9
Quote from bonkman View Post :
Is it spamming if you believe it?

From reading my posts in the GW thread, the correct statement should be "you have a hard time accepting that other people don't believe what scientific data establishes." Should I, or anyone, be accepting that people spout wrong information?

But, more related to conspiracy theories, how do we know its wrong? How should we allocate our time? Should we just allow any thread to devolve into people spouting stupid conspiracy theories on the topic? Is that productive to debate? Is that what we're hoping to get out of TP?
You can believe something and yet still spam a thread every 2 minutes with the same message over and over and over and over and over and over and over etc etc. what you are suggesting whether intentionally or not is to engage in group think and to shun any opposing views because we believe them to be wrong. To me this is potentially dangerous. As was suggested by another poster, either MA the post or use the ignore feature.
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#10
Quote from skiman View Post :
The same way one warns or bans a skinhead for posting what he truly believes.

IMO it's not a question of sincerity, but of value. If a person lacks the ability or the willingness to participate in quality debate, then he or she has no business participating in what is, ostensibly, a debate forum. The internet has an unlimited number of "places" to spout unfiltered nonsense. It's neither unfair nor unreasonable to think that some places can be pruned to serve other purposes.
Then you want to transform TP from an open debate forum to an exclusive group that shuns opposing views because we feel they are wrong. I don't believe that this would be in keeping with the spirit of the SD forums founding fathers.
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#11
Quote from bonkman View Post :
Expand on this. What is science about, then?
The philosophy of inductive analysis, quantification and observation in attempt to further the best guess possible with the best tools posible. Bacon was a philosopher. The *best* science begins with a philosophy and ends with *better* question.

The product can never be the truth. If you want to know the truth, you need to look inside, not outside. Everything is Zen, bitchez.
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#12
Quote from andyfico View Post :
Then you want to transform TP from an open debate forum to an exclusive group that shuns opposing views because we feel they are wrong. I don't believe that this would be in keeping with the spirit of the SD forums founding fathers.

What he's talking about isn't opposing views. It's not like debating the merits of each parties economic plans, or whether welfare is a good thing, or if AA still serves a purpose. What he's talking about are discussions like Global Warming, where on one side you have people with scientific evidence that something is true, and on the other side you have people who are putting their fingers in their ears refusing to acknowledge facts.


But, I don't think we should warn/ban these people. Like someone else in this thread said, I choose to ignore them. If someone demonstrates that they are incapable of recognizing the difference between fact and opinion, and can't form a mature argument or resort to baseless attacks, that person gets ignored. And it's not about ignoring dissenting opinions, because there are plenty of people I consider to be on the "other side" of many of my opinions that aren't ignored. It's all about how you conduct yourself in a debate.
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Non-partisan idealogue
476 Reputation
#13
Quote from skiman View Post :
IMO it's not a question of sincerity, but of value. If a person lacks the ability or the willingness to participate in quality debate, then he or she has no business participating in what is, ostensibly, a debate forum. The internet has an unlimited number of "places" to spout unfiltered nonsense. It's neither unfair nor unreasonable to think that some places can be pruned to serve other purposes.
You are entitled to your opinion, however it is at odds with TP Charter.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is very rare to get someone to change their opinion so keep that in mind when replying and strive for clarity of your opinion, not trying to show them why their opinion is wrong.

^ Note the Charter says everyone not those deemed worthy by skiman.

There seems to be a belief among some participants in this forum that a topic is an opportunity to browbeat others into agreement. Instead of getting angry when that doesn't happen, try focusing on clarifying your own opinion(s).
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L11: My Level Goes to 11
21 Reputation
#14
Quote from bonkman View Post :
Expand on this. What is science about, then?
Progress. Useful understanding. Maybe that's just because I'm an engineer more than a scientist Stick Out Tongue

Science doesn't tell us what we should do. It tells us what we can do. It tells us what the physical results of some action will be (with some confidence) even if we haven't done that thing before.
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#15
Let them spout their conspiracy theories, it's entertaining. Teehee
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