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It's a Conspiracy!

posted Monday Aug 21, 2017 07:06 AM

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Bo Bennett, PhD


About Bo Bennett, PhD

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The interesting thing about conspiracy theories is that some of them are actually true. This gives all conspiracy theories a hint of legitimacy in that no matter how ridiculous a theory might sound; there is a chance that it could be true. But as I have said before, reason is not about possibility; it is about probability. It is not about the outcome; it is about the process. One can be right for all the wrong reasons, but it is far more important in the long run to be wrong for all the right reasons. With this in mind, let's look deeper at the fallacy known as "Conspiracy Theory."

When I think of the conspiracy theory, I think of another fallacy called the Galileo Fallacy. This is the claim that because an idea is forbidden, prosecuted, detested, or otherwise mocked, it must be true, or should be given more credibility. It comes from the idea that Galileo was mocked and he turned out to be right. Therefore, all crazy-ass claims should be taken seriously. Of course, when we think statistically and not emotionally, we know that for every Galileo there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of Alex Jones'. So when we hear someone going off about how lizard people are running the world, we can safely play the odds and reasonably dismiss the claim offhand, assuming no new empirical evidence is presented. This last part is very important, and I will explain why.

As a scientist, I am intimately familiar with the scientific process and I trust in the process to help us arrive at the most probable conclusions. As an academic, I trust in the peer-review process and its ability to separate legitimate work from the work of those who are incapable of synthesizing data to come to reasonable conclusions. Scientific and academic consensus, although not perfect, is extremely reliable. Like Galileo, it is certainly possible that some non-scientist and non-academic with a fringe idea can be right. But you need to explain why your fringe idea is right, why the majority of experts are wrong, and what information you have that they don't. While it is reasonable to dismiss fringe ideas without a thorough investigation of such ideas (there are literally millions of them and would take several lifetimes), we should always be open to reconsidering our positions based on new evidence. Evidence. Not philosophical musings (e.g., "If there is no God, who created the universe?"). Not stupid questions that come from a position of ignorance (e.g., "If we evolved from monkeys, why is there still monkeys?"). And certainly not opinions coming from a highly emotional position of distrust or hatred of authority (e.g., "Vaccines are dangerous and are only used to make big corporations rich"). Evidence.

Convince the majority of the experts, not me.

One of the biggest mistakes in reason people make is in assuming that they are more qualified to come to a conclusion in a highly specialized area than experts in that area. Or, they are so emotionally interested in an outcome that all they need is one "expert" to confirm their conclusion, even if 97% of other experts disagree with the conclusion. For example, Billy-Bob, with a high-school education was convinced by information on "ClimateChangeIsAConspiracy.ru" that climate change is a hoax, yet for some odd reason, the thousands of climatologists around the world are not convinced. If you have "evidence" that only a few thousand Jews died in the Holocaust instead of the well-accepted figure of 6 million, convince the historians that you're right and that they are wrong. If you think the atomic bomb is a hoax, share your evidence with experts in relevant academic and scientific fields, not strangers on the Internet whose pastimes include searching for Bigfoot. If you do have evidence that drastically changes what we know about history or science, you have a Nobel Prize waiting for you. Present your evidence to experts who are qualified to evaluate it, not to people who just blogged about seeing Elvis eating meatloaf at the local Cracker Barrel.

Life is short and my time is valuable. I will continue to accept the scientific and scholarly consensus' as well as withhold belief in gods, ghosts, spirits, psychic powers, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, 9/11 conspiracy, alien abductions, the idea of the moon landings being faked, and the countless other stories and conspiracies that permeate our culture. I readily admit that I can be wrong about one or even all of the above, but I can sleep well knowing that if I am wrong, it is because I am wrong for all the right reasons.


Podcast Episode: It's a Conspiracy!


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Jordan Pine
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 02:19:52 PM
I agree with this. However, the one issue you mention as an example always gives me pause: anthropogenic global
warming. Because the issue is so politicized and so agenda-driven (causing many to consider it scientism instead of
science), I often find advocates using ad numeram, ad populum and ad verecundiam arguments. Indeed, my understanding is that the latter fallacy is behind the popular
claim that 97% of scientists agree GW is man-made. That is, they included the opinions of many scientists who aren't actually in a position to know because they don't study man's impact on climate.

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Jordan Pine
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 11:52:06 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: I respectfully disagree as follows ...

In your description of the ad numeram fallacy, you wrote that it is not logical to use "the popularity of a premise or proposition as evidence for its truthfulness ... especially in a society where clever marketing, social and political weight, and money can buy popularity." In this case, we have all of these elements at play. There is clever marketing by advocacy groups, significant social and political weight being brought to bear and, of course, billions in funding at stake.

You may argue that expert consensus is different than popular opinion. I accept there is a difference and that authority matters. However, it is also valid to point out that experts are often regularly and spectacularly wrong. Indeed, the history of both science and medicine is practically defined by this statement. A layman can't know better than an expert whether that will end up being the case (sorry conspiracy nuts), but he can reject the idea that he must suspend reason and defer to unarticulated arguments just because he is a layman.

This leads me back to the ad verecundiam fallacy. It is often translated as "appeal to authority" or to "false authority." I have already shared why I think that connotative meaning applies here (more on this in a moment). However, I learned the phrase more literally means "argument to shame." I think that's apt since the maneuver attempts to shame the layman into deference despite the fact the one invoking authority has failed to make a compelling case.

Finally, I have read (and yes Googled) extensively about the topic of climate change. I've read scientists on both sides of the debate and delved into IPCC reports and other scientific documents. Indeed, I only raised the point about the lack of scientists who actually study man's impact on climate because of what I've read. It was a climatologist who sent me down that path.

In 2007, NASA climate scientist Roy Spencer wrote: "Contrary to popular accounts, very few scientists in the world – possibly none – have a sufficiently thorough, 'big picture' understanding of the climate system to be relied upon for a prediction of the magnitude of global warming. To the public, we all might seem like experts, but the vast majority of us work on only a small portion of the problem."

This seemed obvious and logical the second I read it. Take a scientist studying arctic sea ice. Does it follow that because he is an expert on ice flows that he is also an expert on atmospheric CO2 and it's impact on global temperature? Or to use your oncologist example, would you accept your cardiologist's opinion of a cancer diagnosis? Of course not. Yet on the matter of AGW, the ice expert is counted as part of the 97% because, when surveyed, he shared the consensus view about something beyond his expertise. He is a false authority on the matter.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 05:55:14 AM
@Jordan Pine: Hi Jordan,

There is clever marketing by advocacy groups, significant social and political weight being brought to bear and, of course, billions in funding at stake.

This goes for both side of the issue. But science and facts win out in the same way evolution does despite the passionate opposition. In terms of the fallacy, these are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions, just often found as moderating factors. So we cannot say because clever marketing is used then it is a fallacy.

However, it is also valid to point out that experts are often regularly and spectacularly wrong.

Be careful of the Galileo fallacy here. Yes, 97% of the experts in this field can be wrong, as well as virtually every scientific society on the planet. The question is, what information do you have that they don't?

and defer to unarticulated arguments

But that's the thing... they are not unarticulated arguments... they are extremely well articulated and supported by data. These aren't arguments by gibberish. The problem is, the layman doesn't understand the science, so when political bias in involved, will reject the 97% scientific consensus and listen to their politicians instead.

I think that's apt since the maneuver attempts to shame the layman into deference despite the fact the one invoking authority has failed to make a compelling case.

There is failing to make a compelling case, and those who fail to understand it. Be respectful of the difference. Think explaining evolution to a homeschooled creationist in the Bible belt.

Indeed, I only raised the point about the lack of scientists who actually study man's impact on climate because of what I've read.

This might help: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/question-2/

In 2007, NASA climate scientist Roy Spencer

Why do you trust this climate scientist? You can't have it both ways. If you dismiss the scientific position on this, be consistent. I am sure you realize that the vast majority (probably 97%) of his colleagues strongly disagree with his position.

Your bottom line argument seems to be that climatologists are not authorities on the question of the human contribution to climate change. Let's ignore data to the contrary for now. Who are the experts on this question then? Is this not a scientific question? Who are you listening to on this issue?

I can honestly say that politically, I am now about as centrist as can get, if not indifferent. I have to be as a scientist, since as you aptly point out, biases (especially political) can alter your reasoning process. I don't know your political views and you don't need to share them. But ask yourself how much your politics might be involved in your rejection of this overwhelming scientific consensus. Let me leave you with one more article I wrote because you mentioned that when science doesn't make sense to a layman, they can rely on their own "reason" to reject the conclusion. I addressed that here.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 06:05:06 AM
I just wanted to stress that you read my article: https://www.thedrboshow.com/tools/bg/Bo/TheDrBoShow/ksGEmE99/The-Problem-with-Relying-on-Your-Own-Common-Sense-and-Ignoring-Scientific-Consensus . It addresses so much of your concerns in great detail.

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Jordan Pine
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 01:09:26 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Let me know when this stops being interesting. Perhaps we are already there? :-) I thank you again for engaging with me on this matter.

I know my biases well and consider them often. I am not a centrist. When it comes to any polarizing issue I care about, I have picked a side and will passionately defend it. This will create blind spots. But I try to be intellectually honest and and make rational arguments as much as possible.

My biggest bias is that I abhor orthodoxy and the preaching that accompanies it. That is why I have such a problem with a matter that should not be of much concern to me. My bias is always toward the rebels and skeptics when the dominant paradigm is so aggressive and intolerant while refusing to admit its logical fallacies and cognitive biases. It may sound weird to describe a scientific matter in this way, which is exactly my point.

AGW is not like regular science, and those who act like it is are being disingenuous. To cite a relevant example, notice that you first referred me to an *advocacy site* to support the 97% claim. It's worth asking: Do other sciences have such advocacy sites? Of course, climate science is different because it has been politicized. Which came first, though, the chicken or the egg? If you review the history, there's a strong case that the politics preceded the field. Advocacy groups made AGW their lead issue after the ozone layer issue wound down, and a new field bloomed. This is a larger problem with the environmental sciences. Pretending they are like traditional sciences, and that people who question their motives and biases are science deniers, is to fall prey to the design of those with an agenda. (I make no claim as to whether that agenda is right or wrong.)

Does that mean my view and those who support it are not equally contaminated? Of course not. What I like about your approach is that it sidesteps the contentious core and focuses on identifying the logical flaws in the arguments employed. That's why I am surprised our conversation devolved into a duel of competing fallacies. I use an interesting quote by Spencer to support a diagnosis of the ad verecundam fallacy, you counter with the Galileo fallacy. But why? I am not arguing that Spencer's science proves or disproves AGW. I am not suggesting he is Galileo. I am merely building on the logic of his quote to argue non-specializing scientists won't be relevant authorities on the question of whether man-made CO2 is causing global warming, leading to the "false authority" variation of the ad verecundum fallacy. And that, further, those who use stats about majorities of scientists to try to end this debate commit the "shaming" sense of the same fallacy. Do you agree with that diagnosis or not?

You also claim that the arguments for AGW are well-articulated and that the problem is people like me just don't understand the science (appeal to ignorance). You compare layman to homeschooled Bible-belt creationists trying to understand evolutionary biology (abusive analogy). OK, I'll stop! Sorry. Let me address your point: I understand the science well enough to ask intelligent questions. I observe how people on the other side answer those questions, and they often do it with logical fallacies in lieu of articulated arguments. I return to the 97% claim -- which was crafted and promoted for marketing purposes, incidentally -- as my primary example. When skeptics like me raise valid questions about what the AGW orthodox have claimed, that is the reply we most often get. Not a well-articulated answer, and sometimes not an answer at all, but an appeal to majority agreement. Maybe that's not technically an ad numeram (although I confess your reasoning for why still escapes me). But then we need a new fallacy name. How about "appeal to consensus"? Or "appeal to expert consensus"?

Last point: I don't deny that following the expert consensus is a useful heuristic for thinking about matters in which one is not an expert. I agree that it is. I merely reject it as a rebuttal in a logical argument because it is a non-response that petitions for the suspension of reason. Do you agree?

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Jordan Pine
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 01:22:51 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Great article. I agree with it. However, I think the AGW case is different for the reasons I have articulated. More broadly, I also wonder where you draw the line as a layman? There must be a line where your own knowledge and reason rise to a level where you don't need to be an expert with a degree to be able to have valid opinions about a topic. Surely you are not arguing would should blindly follow expert consensuses wherever they may lead? Also: Isn't the harm standard a two-way street? Doesn't it also apply when activitsts and governments use the weight of expert consensus to force people to adhere to practices, incur costs or be deprived of things that could improve or even prolong their lives? Sorry, but I have a lot of questions!

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 06:58:44 AM
@Jordan Pine: We are getting off fallacies and moving into what constitutes science denialism. You probably consider yourself a good skeptic, and thus skeptical about the claims of AGW. I will leave you with one final suggestion (plea perhaps?) and address just one thing you said in your last comment. First, read a very short post on AGW from the ultimate skeptic: Steven Novella from the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. He digs into more of your concerns that extend beyond fallacies. If you do have issues with what he wrote, please comment there not here :)

It's worth asking: Do other sciences have such advocacy sites?

YES!!! You can easily find advocacy sites on evolution, vaccine safety, GMO safety, and virtually every other scientific consensus that has been hijacked by misinformation campaigns with a strong political or religious agenda.

My final words on this... AGW is not some big conspiracy (or Hoax by the Chinese); what we are seeing is the typical resistance reaction when science discovers and uncomfortable truth that the world does not want to accept (think debunking geocentrism, evolution, Big Bang, etc.). I have done my best to convince you that it is rational to accept the 97% scientific consensus, and perhaps at least one thing I said might someday lead to you coming to a different conclusion on this matter. Or maybe not :) Either way, thank you for the respectful conversation.

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Jordan Pine
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 02:11:26 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: I'm a little disappointed that we couldn't engage on the fallacies I articulated. I suspect you fear lending credence to my analysis would be supporting "science denialism," as you call it.

It's ironic that we ended up making the same argument, just from opposing viewpoints. Your statement that matters of science have been "hijacked by misinformation campaigns with a strong political agenda" is pretty much my point in a nutshell. I just happen to think the most potent misinformation comes from the side with an environmental agenda.

In any case, I certainly respect your right not to enage on matters that offend you, and I apologize that this has somehow became a debate about a hot-button issue that is beyond the scope of this Website.

I thank you again for your indulgence -- and for this Website, which is improving my understanding.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 03:00:00 PM
@Jordan Pine:
I'm a little disappointed that we couldn't engage on the fallacies I articulated.

I must have missed them if I did not address them. After all, this site is about fallacies. Please do this: Post the fallacies as a new question on the main forum and I will address them individually there.

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 07:32:59 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Wow, that's a very informative article. It helps with some research I'm doing right now.

I don't share your faith in science, though. I have a background in science myself, and I believe in the scientific method. However, science is being manipulated to an insane degree. I'm tempted to agree that the anti-vaccine folks have gone overboard, but when you have a nerd who made billions of dollars from crappy software jumping headfirst into the health industry, it's time to be skeptical. Having seen what Bill Gates did for (or to) the schools here in Seattle, I'm not buying anything he says about health care.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, August 31, 2018 - 06:32:13 AM
@David Blomstrom: Actually, I don't have faith in science. I "trust" science only as far the as the particular evidence and research can support. Have a look at the article I wrote about "trusting" scientists. I agree that skepticism is needed for all scientific claims. https://www.thedrboshow.com/tools/bg/Bo/TheDrBoShow/kAAIxe73/Why-Trust-Scientists

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Baron
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 11:44:04 AM
"If you have "evidence" that only a few thousand Jews died in the Holocaust instead of the well-accepted figure of 6 million, convince the historians”
Your not allowed to if you live in many countries because it’s against the law. Now why do think a truth needs a law to protect it.
"If you think the atomic bomb is a hoax, share your evidence with experts in relevant academic and scientific fields,”
This has been done but the bias from academia is always the status quo (your closed mind seems to validate this lol).
I’m beginning to feel that this site is purely there to reinforce the accepted “truths” without actually bringing logic or proof to the party.

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Baron
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 04:01:01 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
Nope you need to provide the proof that atomic bombs work. You obviously believe that sarcasm and ridicule work. You seem to be a classic case of the close minded education system that rewards people that do not rock the boat. You now bring in the Icke Lizard people stick as part of your ridicule not realising that you have contradicted yourself.
I love your unwitting demonstration of your closed mindedness:- "Thousands of academics from all over the world really know the “truth" but are conspiring to keep this a secret.”. History time and again has shown that those ‘in charge’ will hang onto their cherished ideas that have brought them fame and recognition by dismissing any new or
dangerous (to their status) idea. As you like to play the ridicule card I can’t help returning the compliment. When I used to interview people for jobs I noticed the ones that continually placed BSc or PhD after their names were lacking originality or ‘thinking outside the box’. They also seemed to need their badge as a constant security blanket. I have to admit a few of them were fine but very few. They were products of a closed education system that never teaches people to think.
I actually joined this site because I thought ‘off the wall’ ideas could be genuinely discussed. Obviously I was mistaken.
ps. Your not sponsored by the Tavistock Institute are you?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 04:06:55 PM
@Baron: The reason I brought up the lizard people, is so you can can recognize your own fallacious thinking. You are asking me to prove that atomic bombs work. If I said lizard people are ruling the world and you need to prove that they are not, would you see a problem with that? Please look up burden of proof. You can be right about all your claims... I am simply saying that with extraordinary claims you need extraordinary evidence. Until you provide such evidence, don't expect others to accept your claims.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 04:19:19 PM
@Baron: And I am sorry that I upset you. That was not my intent.

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Baron
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 02:54:56 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: You didn’t upset me. I just felt upset for you. Obviously it’s a waste of time trying to put forward ideas when the net result seems to be games of cleverness and point scoring. I shall leave you to your World where everything ‘authority’ tells you is true. The scientific world cannot be questioned as the majority of ‘scientists’ have given their ‘correct' answers. History cannot be questioned because so many historians have agreed to the official story. Political correctness has decided who is right and cannot be questioned. A Galileo of today would be given his marching orders and ridiculed by you and your coterie of self-satified peers.
When you ask people to prove something you asking them to supply all the evidence available of which there are mountains (on both sides). A pointless waste of effort as neither side will want or be convinced. I actually thought that thinking about a question would be a better way logically looking at things in depth but I see your logics are limited. You presumably see ambulances at the scene of an accident as causing the accident and that fire engines at a fire must also have been the cause of the fire. Oh well never mind. You obviously gather around you like minded people who give you validation so I’m sure you take comfort in that. Cheers.
ps. Calling someone a Conspiracy theorist is a badge of honour because so many conspiracies turn out to be true.

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David Blomstrom
Monday, October 09, 2017 - 07:29:34 PM
Good point about the Holocaust. It also gets back to what I posted earlier about "experts."

Who are the historians - at least, the ones who are publicized in the media? The media are largely controlled by Jews. That isn't a conspiracy theory or a racist statement; it's a simple fact.

And why do some countries have laws making it illegal to question the mainstream Holocaust account? Those laws may not exist in the U.S., but try questioning the Holocaust and find out what happens. The repression is real.

How many Jews died in the Holocaust I don't know. I think a more important question is WHY they died. So little has been written about that.

We're told that the Jews were innocent scapegoats. I think that's a lie. The Jews certainly weren't sitting on the sidelines next door in the Soviet Union.

Don't misinterpret what I'm saying. I'm not saying Hitler's "final solution" was the right thing to do, nor am I saying all Jews were guilty of one thing or another. But WWII is really interesting when you compare the images of the Jews (innocent sheep), the Nazis (the most evil race that ever lived) and the Allies (knights in shining armor - just don't tell the Indians on reservations or the black soldiers who weren't allowed to vote when they returned home).

The Russians are a question mark. Stalin was just as bloody as Hitler, yet he isn't reviled nearly as much. Some of his biggest executioners were Jews, but we never hear about that.

In summary, I sympathize with people who call the Holocaust a "Holohoax." I believe the Nazis did persecute the Jews, but I don't think the mainstream historical accounts are trustworthy.

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tuqqer
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 10:50:02 PM
@Baron: I find it very hard to follow the logical thread of what you're trying to say throughout these posts. I'm trying to get your points, but there's so much misplaced anger that each sentence brings a new direction of new anger that doesn't thread from your earlier points. I think you're so angry, it's just all confused. If we can break it down sentence by sentence, that first one is a biggie:

Nope you need to provide the proof that atomic bombs work.

That doesn't see rational to me. Imagine how long any conversation would take if the small minority requested proof for each item that has a majority consensus of belief behind it. "Nope you need to provide the proof that most people have only two eyes." Sure, people could get the proof, but then what?

It doesn't mean you can't believe that atomic bombs are fake. It just means that, because you're the minority, the proof of burden is more on you. The phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" doesn't mean your claim is the wrong one. It just means that it's the less believed one, and the burden of proof would be on you.

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Michael Chase Walker
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 12:20:04 PM
@David Blomstrom: "The media are largely controlled by Jews. That isn't a conspiracy theory or a racist statement; it's a simple fact."

No, it's not a fact, but an ad hominem by association and racist libel. it's not only a vicious lie, but perpetuates a dangerous stereotype as it falsely equates prominent figures of ethnic Jewish origin who happen to enjoy a large presence in a particular industry, and assigns to them a conspiratorial cabal-like "control" over the entire Media.

It is nothing but teleological thinking (fallacy) at its worst. It would be like seeing an elevator with a number of Blacks in it and assuming it is an elevator for Blacks only. This is an egregious fallacy of parts-to-whole composition, or as Alan Dershowitz writes in The Trials of Zion:

"Conflating individual Jews, who as individuals may have influence in the media, with “Jewish control” over the media is an outright slander.

Consider a recent column by Christopher Hitchens, who has called “for Jon Stewart and others to join me in calling for Rick Sanchez’s reinstatement.” Then listen to what he says: “If it then didn’t happen, it would help us to understand who really pulls the strings around here.” Who do you suppose he means by “who really pulls the strings?” The “Jews” who control the media? That certainly appears to be the implication. What is he suggesting? That Jews actually get together to decide who gets fired and hired? Or maybe they don’t even have to get together, because they all think alike.

Hitchens knows enough individual Jews in the media to realize that “two Jews, three opinions” is a far more accurate characterization than some conspiratorial group-think by the Elders of Zion.

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 01:10:39 PM
@Michael Chase Walker: When I became a political activist in Seattle, I was slimed by media rats (I won't use the preferred term here). At the time, I didn't have a clue about Jews' influence in the political arena. To me, there were just another minority, like Muslims, Kenyans, Peruvians, or whatever.

When my eyes were opened years later, I wondered, "Wow, do Jews control the media in Seattle, too?"

I went back and looked at the media rats who had led the charge in insulting me, lying about my issues, etc. To my amazement, they were almost all Jews. The first time I ran for public office, in 1999, I was sent my very first computer virus - from a major media rat who turned out to be a Jew. Go figure.

People like you also like to claim the Jews have no real power over the economy, Hollywood, etc. So it was amusing to see an article that focusing on the Jews' control of Hollywood. In fact, that was the article that opened my eyes to "Jewarchy" (Jewish corruption).

I might have dismissed the article if it had appeared on some NeoNazi website, but it was published in the LA Times. A follow-up piece, written by a Jew, could be summarized as "Of course, Jews control Hollywood! So what?"

The Jews' influence in our national government is simply extraordinary. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush have all probably done more to help Israel than the U.S.

In fact, that's what's opening a lot of people's eyes to Jewarchy - the situation the Middle East, where the U.S. is increasingly fighting Israel's wars. And if you want to call me a racist, I'll throw it right back in your face.

There's nothing more racist than the Holocaust story, which casts Jews as the only victims of WWII worth caring about. Isn't it amazing that Obama gave millions of dollars to U.S. Jews who claimed to be Holocaust survivors? Maybe America's Native Americans, black people and Hispanics should convert to Judaism and see if they can get a piece of the action.

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 01:24:39 PM
Baron wrote, "Your not allowed to if you live in many countries because it’s against the law. Now why do think a truth needs a law to protect it."

Amen.

I started studying the WWII era a year or two ago, and my head is still spinning. The crap they taught us in high school doesn't match the historical record. And if there's really "a mountain evidence" supporting the mainstream fairy tale, why do they have to make movies out fictional novels, like Sophie's Choice?

And why is the Holocaust the center of attention when the bloodshed in the Soviet Union was far greater - and it started before WWII and lasted after the war ended? Why has Alexander Sozhenitsyn's book 200 Years Together never been published in the U.S.?

That guy was a god when I was a kid. I wasn't into politics at the time but I remember seeing his picture on the cover of Life magazine. I remember seeing him on TV. He was the rock star of authors.

Then he publishes a book that apparently discusses some uncomfortable truths (like the fact that Jews aren't always the victims?), and he's suddenly given the silent treatment.

Never underestimate the power of the Big Lie. I learned that lesson when I was a teacher here in liberal Seattle.

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tuqqer
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 03:32:25 PM
"I started studying the WWII era a year or two ago, and my head is still spinning."
That is FASCINATING. Whatever you've surmised about WWII over the past year (or 2), please do pass on in dozens and hundreds of posts over the coming years as this study deepens.

"The crap they taught us in high school doesn't match the historical record.."
Pray tell. Do carry on, because the rest of us need to know about the crap they've taught us and now you'll be clearing up from your studies on WWII over the past year or two.

"And if there's really "a mountain evidence" supporting the mainstream fairy tale, why do they have to make movies out fictional novels, like Sophie's Choice?"
BOOM! I am positive that many of us here have been wondering the exact same thing. Yeah, why the fictional movies, hmm? Coincidence? I don't think so. Coverup? Well, when you look at the mountain of evidence... hmm? Yeah. Exactly: conspiracy.

"And why is the Holocaust the center of attention when the bloodshed in the Soviet Union was far greater..."
Why why why!?? Why focus on 6 million deaths when 20 million has more meaning? You guessed it: bam, coverup.

Why has Alexander Sozhenitsyn's book 200 Years Together never been published in the U.S.?
I think we can all surmise the same damn conclusion: Israel! Maybe Australia, too! But one of those. Any other conclusion would be idiotic and a strong sign of The Big Lie.

Never underestimate the power of the Big Lie.

I like to end most of my posts with exactly this phrase. Let's people know that I'm onto The Big Lie, and others should be aware of the power of it, too.

To be fair, the Medium Lie does not get enough press. When author Lee Child can write a dozen books that all get to the New York Times bestseller list, but then he comes out with one itsy bitsy book on The Medium Lie, guess what happens? You got it: media silence. Ever since that happened, I have ended most of my posts with "Never underestimate the power of the Medium Lie." Solidarity, Lee Childs.

I learned that lesson when I was a teacher here in liberal Seattle.

One can only wish for teachers of this logical fallacy skill level. Keep the dream alive!

Never underestimate the power of the Medium Lie.™

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mike
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 12:01:27 PM
Conspiracy theorists don't argue fair, rules don't apply to them. It's a bit like arguing with a 4 year old. It's a waste of time arguing with them in my opinion, most won't give in even if you've convinced them just to save face.

Just remember Bill and Monica couldn't keep a conspiracy of 2 from coming out, what are the odds something like 9/11, which would involve literally thousands of people, could possibly be covered up.

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 03:00:48 PM
Your first paragraph is utterly absurd. Do you really think your words apply to all conspiracy theorists? And how many anti-conspiracy folks refuse to "give in" in order to save face. It's called confirmation bias (although there are also a few other things going on).

And your Billary example doesn't hold water. Yes, Bill got caught, as do many other conspirators. Yet others go free - and we aren't just talking about conspiracies of two. There are literally thousands of unanswered questions about major historic events involving politics, war and crime. I witnessed some extraordinary conspiracies when I taught school in Seattle, and I've learned how such conspiracies are covered up.

It's not rocket science. The amazing thing is how incredibly easy it is to bury a conspiracy. Even if someone spills the beans, so what? Just call them a liar or a kook. Better yet, just ignore them. In extreme cases, you can kill them, but that probably isn't necessary 95% of the time.

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David Harbour
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 07:17:49 PM
My biggest challenge in attempting to discuss any conspiracy has always been circular reasoning. When I ask for evidence, the response is, it's being suppressed! Maddening to say the least.

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David Blomstrom
Monday, October 09, 2017 - 07:33:58 PM
Ironically, they're right. Think about the extraordinary lengths the government went to in suppressing the 9/11 evidence. Plane wreckage was hidden away, tapes were erased, etc., etc. Another irony is that the lack of evidence can be evidence itself.

When millions of citizens question the mainstream account, many calling you a liar and even claiming the government itself was behind 9/11, wouldn't it seem prudent to cough up the evidence and allow it to be examined?

Of course, the government claims that doing so would "aid terrorists," kind of a stupid claim after the fact.

But keep in mind that solid evidence, though obviously nice to have, isn't always essential. Circumstantial evidence and logic can get people convicted in courts of law. ;)

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perry richardson
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 11:02:36 AM
@David Blomstrom:
One does not need a conspiracy theory to explain what happened on 9/11. Either the administration knew nothing of it or they knew and did nothing. In either case we have gross incompetence.
Virtually everything that came of that event proves incompetence on the part of the administration and, most of all, its top leaders.
9/11 was not a conspiracy theory. It is proof of incompetence.

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David Blomstrom
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 07:13:24 PM
@perry richardson: George W. Bush spent 9/11 hiding in a classroom before running and hiding in Nebraska because of incompetence. Dick Cheney was also in hiding because of incompetence. Evidence was hidden away because of incompetence. The government has fought tooth and nail to prevent a thorough investigation because of incompetence.

And that's just the beginning. That's an awful lot of "incompetence."

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perry richardson
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 11:34:41 PM
@David Blomstrom:
Nothing like the administration we currently
have in place. The current situation will unravel poorly.

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tuqqer
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 12:43:59 PM
@David Blomstrom:
"Ironically, they're right."
Actually, ironically they're wrong.

"Think about the extraordinary lengths the government went to in suppressing the 9/11 evidence. "
Actually, think about the extraordinary lengths the government went to uncovering the truth behind who caused 9/11.

"Plane wreckage was hidden away, tapes were erased, etc."
Actually, no plane wreckage was hidden, no tapes were erased, and billions of dollars were spent to find the culprits.

"Another irony is that the lack of evidence can be evidence itself."
Actually, there is no irony. The evidence was sifted through, and the culprits found and prosecuted.

"When millions of citizens question the mainstream account, many calling you a liar and even claiming the government itself was behind 9/11, wouldn't it seem prudent to cough up the evidence and allow it to be examined?"
When a few people here in this thread point out your own circular logical fallacies, wouldn't it seem prudent to stop posting more circular thinking? Wouldn't it occur to you to stop? Or is this proof that you are hiding something and behind a conspiracy?

"Of course, the government claims that..."
Of course you claim that you are, in fact, the only one not using circular thinking, and if we could only listen to reason.

"But keep in mind that solid evidence, though obviously nice to have, isn't always essential. Circumstantial evidence and logic can get people convicted in courts of law. ;)"
But keep in mind that, even entire websites and authors with years of study and deep knowledge in logical fallacy thinking can't get some people to simply examine how they are thinking, how they are communicating, and how they are posting, and even ending their posts with a sly winking emoticon can't ;) erase ;) the illogical ;) mess ;)

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 01:13:22 PM
@perry richardson: The U.S. is unraveling. George W. Bush trashed the economy and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama did more of the same, digging our grave deeper.

Donald Trump is just the latest act. Notice how the rich have continued to get richer under ALL of these bums. The person who replaces Trump will be another Bush-Obama-Trump clone.

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David Blomstrom
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 01:17:55 PM
@tuqqer: It's easy to post nonsense and bald-faced lies when you're hiding behind a pseudonym, isn't it? One of my standards for political discussion is that people who want my respect need to crawl out of the shadows, identify themselves and offer some sort of resume. Otherwise, for all I know I could be talking to a checkout clerk at my local grocery store or a gas station attendant.

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tuqqer
Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 01:22:11 PM
@David Blomstrom:
"It's easy to post nonsense and bald-faced lies."
It's easy to call things bald lies when living in a constant stream of circular arguments.

"One of my standards..."
says the Circular Reasoning Guy day after day after day...

"who want my respect..."
Assumptions will get you no where. ;)

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EARL ANTHONY MERTZ
Sunday, July 15, 2018 - 11:05:10 PM
I have been just introduced to Derrida, Foucault, post modernism, deconstructionism and find it disturbing being a science major and rooted in science that they say science does not exist that reality is a social/cultural construct or is a phenomenological/subjective dialectic binary --- could you please comment on this or address it in the future because we are running into dealing with deconstructionists in every day arguments/interactions regularly dealing with identity politics and with any social/cultural issues in everyday life, how do we deal with somebody trying to use infinite presumptions/meanings to deconstruct our arguments/positions ?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Monday, July 16, 2018 - 03:35:26 AM
This sounds like it is outside my area of expertise, or it is dealing with some concepts with which I am not familiar, so I don't think I would be the best person to answer this.

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David Blomstrom
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 07:18:30 PM
First, you're talking about about philosophy, which, though intriguing, can be downright weird. Philosophy can also be manipulated by propagandists, and so can science.

Postmodernism popped up on my radar screen fairly recently. I don't know a lot about it. In fact, it's famously hard to understand, which would make it even easier for propagandists to manipulate. Some people think postmodernism was essentially invented as a propaganda tool. I don't know if that's true, but I'm leaning in that direction.

Even if postmodernism is genuine, that doesn't mean you have to accept it. There are other philosophical schools of thought to choose from. In the meantime, consider spending a little time studying psychology, philosophy, etc. It will help you understand the games people play with our minds, along with the frailties (e.g. cognitive biases) that are built into our minds.

If you want some tips along the way, look me up on the Internet. I'm working on some books related to this topic.

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Laura McGaffey
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 01:30:55 PM
If I have an experience that contradicts what the so-called experts currently believe, don't they have the responsibility to keep an open mind and revisit the current "conclusions" on the subject? Just one person, mind you, sane and provably conscious during the experience. BTW, no, I am not thinking of the book "Contact" by the scientist Carl Sagan. I am literally referring to little old, non-scientist, non-expert, average citizen me.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 02:25:19 PM
If I have an experience that contradicts what the so-called experts currently believe, don't they have the responsibility to keep an open mind and revisit the current "conclusions" on the subject?

If your experience goes against what is generally accepted by experts, you have the burden of proof to present a convincing case as to why the expert opinion is wrong. For example, if you think the world is run by lizard people, you need some pretty powerful evidence to convince the rest of us that you are right. Most conspiracies are extraordinary claims and therefore require extraordinary evidence.

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Laura McGaffey
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 03:05:30 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
Sorry I didn't make my question clear. I was not talking about me making a claim about conspiracy theories. I don't believe in lizard people or big foot. Maybe this isn't even where I should have posed the question.
I am talking about paranormal experiences. There are scientists called parapsychologists studying people who claim to be psychics. Randi offers one million dollars to anyone who can offer "proof" (apparently scientific) that their abilities are real. In other words, science says, "If you can't deliberately and consciously bring about a psychic phenomena, then you never have them."

I have had visions, precognitive knowings that came true AFTER I verbalized them to others (none of that, "Oh, I just knew that was going to happen") and dreams that came true. But, they happen TO me, I cannot conjure up anything or anyone. These experiences of mine have been poo-pooed by scientifically minded people who have practically said, "You aren't psychic, you're psychotic" and laughed at me.

Is it the scientific method to insult and ignore people reporting things they have experienced but have no control over? That sounds an awful lot like emotionalism to me rather than objective analysis with an open mind.

I know you are discussing logical thinking here and I have always enjoyed reading about and taking classes in rhetoric, etc. Perhaps this is not the forum to ask the above questions?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 03:23:22 PM
@Laura McGaffey:

In other words, science says, "If you can't deliberately and consciously bring about a psychic phenomena, then you never have them."

"Science" does not say that. The fact is millions of people claim to deliberately and consciously bring about a psychic phenomena. Of course, when tested, they can't (those who subject themselves to testing).

I have had visions, precognitive knowings that came true AFTER I verbalized them to others (none of that, "Oh, I just knew that was going to happen") and dreams that came true.

You and every other person on this planet. This is the confirmation bias at work. We record this hits and forget the misses. How many visions, dreams, thoughts, etc. did you have that did NOT come true? Given the sheer number of thoughts we have, we all are able to make successful predictions at least some of the time. There are literally dozens of other of psychological reasons why people think they are psychic. Now, if you think that your predictions are more accurate than what could reasonably be expected from the average person, then you are making a testable claim. You may be right, but all we can say is that when people who made similar claims as you subjected themselves to testing (by qualified scientists), NO psychic powers were found. The probability of you being fooled by psychological processes is much greater than you having real magic powers. I (a scientist) certainly don't think you are psychotic, as it is completely normal to be fooled by our own brains.

Is it the scientific method to insult and ignore people reporting things they have experienced but have no control over?

Methods don't insult or ignore. If someone is making a testable claim (yes, your claim IS testable) then the scientific method could demonstrate if the claim is true or not (i.e., the claim being one could make accurate predictions significantly better than the average person). One doesn't have to have control over it as these kinds of tests can be done over years even of record keeping.

Perhaps this is not the forum to ask the above questions?

I don't mind addressing the one off question like this because it is my area of both interest and expertise. But in general, this site is about logical fallacies and I try to focus on that because of limited time.

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Larry Jewell
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 01:35:09 PM
I was introduced to conspiracy theories in 1965, when my neighbor wanted me to find the "smoking gun" at Pearl Harbor. I've been dealing with conspiracy nonsense since then. Fifty years plus has made me consider that "Conspiracy Advocacy" and "Conspiracy Advocate" are more appropriate for this half-baked suspicions. It removes the dignity that "theory" leans to their maunderings.

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waypasthadenough
Sunday, January 07, 2018 - 11:03:38 AM
Spurred me to write this, if you have time to waste on it:

FK: A conspiracy to indoctrinate, or “What is an education?”

http://www.freekentucky.com/a-conspiracy-to-indoctrinate-or-what-is-an-education/

So we come to the split

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David Blomstrom
Monday, October 09, 2017 - 07:19:16 PM
Good post. However, the word "experts" is a red flag for me.

Who are the experts, and who decides who decides they're qualified to be experts?

For example, the media like to claim there's a "scientific consensus" that genetically modified food is harmless. But is this true, or did they cherry-pick their audience?

As a former wildlife biologist in Alaska, I've met plenty of "scientists" working for the oil industry. As a former teacher in corporate Seattle, I've been up to my eyeballs in corruption and conspiracy. And I can't comprehend how anyone with a basic knowledge of 1) science, 2) government or 3) corporatism could give GMO a thumbs up.

On another note, I don't think conspiracy theory should necessarily be held to the same standards as scientific theory. Which isn't to say that conspiracy theory can ignore the laws of science. Rather, I think some conspiracy theory might be more comparable to criminal investigation.

If we want to call Bigfoot/Sasquatch a "conspiracy theory," then it can probably be analyzed scientifically. Many species of humans, humanoids or whatever you want to call them have evolved, and they've left plenty of fossils in the Old World. Nor is it hard to believe that species other than our own could have crossed the Bering Land Bridge - unless they were wiped out at an earlier date.

But no Sasquatch fossils have ever been found in North America, and how could such an animal survive in our ever shrinking wilderness?

Thus, science can adequately debunk Bigfoot.

But consider 9/11, the war against terrorism or Bill Gates' vaccines. We can't ignore scientific principles, but we now have to function as criminal investigators, looking for motives, means and beneficiaries. Another think to examine is track records.

Does the government have a record of lying? What about the media? I could write an encyclopedia about the crimes of the Seattle School Board alone, and there are ZERO media in Seattle that have any credibility whatsoever.

Whether or not Bill Gates' vaccines are part of some similar plot to depopulate the world I don't know, but I wouldn't automatically discount the possibility. I do know that Bill Gates isn't a genuine philanthropist or humanitarian. He didn't acquire $80 billion by accident.

Suffice it to say that I'm deeply suspicious of Gates' vaccines. Even if they're "good," there's still that profit motive to watch out for. It's simply ludicrous to give one man that much power over people's health, especially when that man had such a hard time designing quality software.

For me, the term "conspiracy theory" means just what it says. It's a theory that aims to explain an action or incident that someone suspects is evidence of a government conspiracy. Rather than ridicule all conspiracy theory, I judge each theory on its own merits.

One of the problems is that ridiculing conspiracy theory is itself a form of mind control. It sends out the message that anyone who believes in a particular conspiracy theory must be a kook.

I have no problem ridiculing obviously flawed conspiracy theories. One of my favorites is the theory that the U.S. government uses its HAARP facility to cause earthquakes around the world. That defies science and logic both on every level.

But I don't believe for one minute that the government and media have told us the truth about 9/11. And it isn't necessary to to back up my beliefs with a mountain of evidence when the government is hiding its alleged evidence.

It isn't hard to figure out who had the means to pull off 9/11, who had a track record of similar stunts and who profited from it. Moreover, the official account is riddled with too many red flags, like the commander-in-chief hiding in an elementary school classroom in Florida before fleeing to Nebraska. And I don't think we've ever been told where the vice president was hiding that day.

Again, that's an example of logic and common sense filling in the blanks when the government withholds the evidence.

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mike
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 03:05:07 PM
Re climate change, when 97% of climate scientists agree, its game over, is there really a point debating?

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Jordan Pine
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 07:12:39 PM
That depends. Is it your perception that agreement is a big part of science? That once a certain threshhold of agreement is reached, a scientific paradigm is no longer questioned or tested?

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mike
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 07:18:57 PM
@Jordan Pine:

Anything can be questioned, part of science is doing just that. I doubt they will ever stop examining the environment.

At what point does the evidence become overwhelming, 97 % seems to be pretty overwhelming.

Can they be wrong? Yes, I just wouldn't bet on it.

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