Author Topic: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?  (Read 1586 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Billzbub

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2549
  • I know you know I know
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2016, 03:25:06 PM »
This discussion reminds me of the conspiracy theory lady on Orange is the New Black.  They went into detail about her in one episode, and I really enjoyed it.  She knew that she was a little crazy, and she hated the fact that there was nothing she could do about it.

Online Gerbig

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2855
  • Stream Crosser
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2016, 06:01:57 PM »
They honestly intrigue me, I ask more questions trying to prod them into saying more and more, its amazing the amount of "reasearch" they have done.

Im shadowing this veteran wedding DJ, have been for a few months, and when we are waiting for the reception to end, he often just shows me videos of how the sandy hook kids grew up and other nuttery.
I just let him talk, its more interesting than the 400th maid of honor wedding speech.

Offline Roger Donnay

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 65
    • Donnay Software
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2016, 06:52:53 PM »
Today, I know a lot of people who believe in different conspiracies.

We didn't go to the moon.
The world is run by the Illuminati.
Colin Powell was responsible for the 911 conspiracy.
JFK was assassinated by LBJ.
The Clintons are murderers.

I have not been able to influence any of these people to change their minds regardless of how logically I approach the subject.
I try to show them how impossible or improbable such a conspiracy would be.
I try to appeal to evidence-based reason.
About 2 years ago, I gave up and realized that this is an exercise in futility.

When I was younger, I didn't know anyone who believed in such theories.

It says something about how people today are influenced to shut off all critical thinking about a subject, but I still don't know why.
Is it cable television, radio talk shows, the internet, lack of education, lack of real-world experience that causes them to live in a bubble?

I think it's all of those things.

If someone makes a false statement of fact, I still challenge it and point them to Snopes or Fact Check, but they usually reject that too because those sites are part of the conspiracy.

The common thread I recognize in conspiracy theorists is that they tend to be "victims" of those with higher authority and they have very little knowledge of how the world really functions on a practical basis.  They are idealistic rather than pragmatic.  They tend to have no business experience, government experience or military experience and they are not interested in history. 


To find the truth follow the science, not the politics

Offline Drosophila

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1741
    • Wildly Into Nature
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2016, 09:34:48 AM »
Novella talks about how seductive conspiracy theories are. You feel like you're in the know, which is very satisfying. We don't like feeling that we're being tricked. In a way, it's a form of intellectual hipster attitude.

"I knew the real truth before it became popular to believe it! Oh yeah, you believe that conspiracy, too? Well, did you know about THIS conspiracy, or are you just an ignorant mainstream sheep?"
Be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do! The world is your sandbox!

Offline Johnny Slick

  • "Goddammit, Slick."
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 11716
  • Fake Ass Skeptic
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2016, 10:02:28 AM »
Is that Dr. Novella's theory? Because I think it's a bit wrong. Yes, there is that effect in play but more than anything else I think that conspiracy theorists are the modern day equivalent of people who were big into, say, Greek polytheism 2500 years ago. Conspiracies make sense of a world that is sometimes without order. Even things that are objectively bad, like a massive conspiracy of secret government agents out to get you, or that the weather is controlled by the fickle whims of small-minded gods,still provide that sense of order that allows you to say "this is how the world works" and make decisions based off of it. People hate, hate, hate chaos and uncertainty.

And then of course one can't forget that a lot of people who we see in the news or whatever talking about this stuff are mentally ill.
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Online Mr. Beagle

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2808
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2016, 10:50:03 AM »
I typically find the "cover your ass" or "did something stupid and can't back out" explanations usually suffice where conspiracy is alleged. IN discussions, I float these alternatives.

With the current Trump/Putin conspiracy talk, I think more along the line of "conveniently-aligned interests." No conspiracy required.
Mister Beagle
The real world is tri-color

Offline Drosophila

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1741
    • Wildly Into Nature
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2016, 10:56:02 AM »
Is that Dr. Novella's theory? Because I think it's a bit wrong.
Well, I'm not sure he thinks that's the whole explanation. I listen to SGU as I fall asleep, so don't take my reference as gospel in that regard.

Yes, there is that effect in play but more than anything else I think that conspiracy theorists are the modern day equivalent of people who were big into, say, Greek polytheism 2500 years ago. Conspiracies make sense of a world that is sometimes without order.
I agree with this as well. We want patterns and predictability. Randomness is unappealing.
Be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do! The world is your sandbox!

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9612
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2017, 12:27:34 PM »
What if we are the conspiracy and we don't even realize it? What if the skeptical community is part of the Illuminati?

Online Paul Blevins Jr.

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2017, 02:57:24 PM »
There was a guy in the local atheist meet-up I used to attend who believed the Twin Towers were constructed with 9/11 in mind during the seventies, that they were designed to collapse and the charges were planted then.

I have co-workers who completely and passionately believe in Pizza Gate and that Michelle Obama is a man.

I avoid them like the plague. It's no use to talk to them. All I keep getting is "You're brainwashed by the media!!"

 

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9612
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2017, 03:04:07 PM »
Do they accept that conspiracists themselves are part of the conspiracy? That seems to be the best way to test their deductive thinking: ask them what a fake conspiracist looks like.

Online Paul Blevins Jr.

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #40 on: March 06, 2017, 03:18:58 PM »
Do they accept that conspiracists themselves are part of the conspiracy? That seems to be the best way to test their deductive thinking: ask them what a fake conspiracist looks like.

I've tried this! They believe EVERYTHING! Just last Thursday, the one co-worker said (and I quote verbatim) "All conspiracy theories are coming true!" I wasn't talking to her, but couldn't help over-hearing a conversation she was having with her fellow believer. There's been no mention of the moon landings, but it would not surprise me to learn she believes they were faked. I'm not about to get into it with her.

Online Gerbig

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2855
  • Stream Crosser
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #41 on: March 06, 2017, 03:28:29 PM »
I cant help but poke the bear and encourage conspiracy theorists when I meet them. I like asking questions and seeing just how deep they go.

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9612
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #42 on: March 06, 2017, 03:32:39 PM »
I cant help but poke the bear and encourage conspiracy theorists when I meet them. I like asking questions and seeing just how deep they go.

Most conspiracies are petty in the sense that they seek to explain only a single anomaly. The grander conspiracies—secret society or shadow government—at least can explain everything, including the people creating petty conspiracies apparently as a distraction.

Online Mr. Beagle

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2808
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #43 on: March 06, 2017, 03:46:09 PM »
There was a guy in the local atheist meet-up I used to attend who believed the Twin Towers were constructed with 9/11 in mind during the seventies, that they were designed to collapse and the charges were planted then.

I have co-workers who completely and passionately believe in Pizza Gate and that Michelle Obama is a man.

I avoid them like the plague. It's no use to talk to them. All I keep getting is "You're brainwashed by the media!!"

 

My sister-in-law is big on the Michelle Obama story, posting stuff that, of course, sees Obama as gay, Michelle as his transvestite lover, and "proof" the two daughters were adopted from (for some reason) Tunisia.
 
Mister Beagle
The real world is tri-color

Offline Ah.hell

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10312
Re: How do you approach or handle everyday conspiracy theorists?
« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2017, 03:56:22 PM »
There was a guy in the local atheist meet-up I used to attend who believed the Twin Towers were constructed with 9/11 in mind during the seventies, that they were designed to collapse and the charges were planted then.

I have co-workers who completely and passionately believe in Pizza Gate and that Michelle Obama is a man.

I avoid them like the plague. It's no use to talk to them. All I keep getting is "You're brainwashed by the media!!"

 

My sister-in-law is big on the Michelle Obama story, posting stuff that, of course, sees Obama as gay, Michelle as his transvestite lover, and "proof" the two daughters were adopted from (for some reason) Tunisia.
 
To head off their eventual run for the presidency?

 

personate-rain