The Conspiracy Mentality
05 - Archetypes
If we start with your average stereotypical alternative-thinker: Someone who is anti-authority, doesn’t trust or understand science, and someone who believes alternatives without scrutiny while blindly rejecting anything official or mainstream, there seems to be two types of people.
Those who listen, and those who do not.
People who listen
People who listen will debate points and go through the standard three phases I outlined already: The confident phase, the defensive phase, and the stalemate. This is some kind of indication that you’ve presented an argument that they can’t refute.
People who listen will interact with what you shared with them. They might not accept it or they might dispute it, but they listen to what you say and interact with it. There will be some kind of dialogue and exchange going on.
People who do not listen
Unfortunately, the people who do not listen tend to stay in phase 1 - the confident phase. I know people personally like this and I have debated them. The problem is from my personal experience is that they just aren’t intelligent people. They might be lovely people, but quite dim. They’re so heavily indoctrinated and just not mentally able to understand why they’re wrong.
The problem is that what they already think they know is presumed to be true and no matter what argument is presented, they just don’t listen to it. No matter how elegant, nuanced, explicit or simplified your argument, they just will not listen. They will deflect, and try to pull the discussion into a generalised subjective area. The more you try to narrow down on specifics they will resort to whataboutism. If you ask for proof they will demand that you do something instead. If you present information or studies they will shrug it off, not read it, react with laughing emojis and gloat like they’re right.
It’s sad and frustrating but it’s exactly like the saying goes: Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a Pigeon. No matter how fantastic or masterful your moves are, the Pigeon will just knock the pieces over, shit on the board, and strut around like it won.
Sometimes, things are just too difficult for some people to understand them so they fall back on what they think they know. These people are so far from change I don’t think it’s possible. They will gravitate to their biases like water to a drain, and will stick with overly simplistic and generalised explanations because it’s all they can understand.
How do you deal with these people? I’m not sure. The conversation won’t go anywhere. Maybe you exploding their bad argument will sway others, but outside of that the benefit is minimal.
There have been a range of arcetypes of alternative thinkers I’ve seen over the years and I’m including myself into this list (who I used to be anyway). I have boiled these down to four main types of people I see.
This is the alternative-thinker who doesn’t listen and doesn’t understand. This is the example from above. This kind of person is extremely unlikely to understand your argument, hasn't thought through their own, doesn’t fact-check, can’t fact-check, Isn’t interested in anything you have to say, is convinced no matter what that they’re right, and is unable to understand the concepts above their level of understanding.
They have no concept of philosophy, science, objectivity, or reason. They will use talking points they don’t understand, and generally have a clunky and unintelligent view of the world.
These people are the Pigeons that knock the chess pieces on the floor, poop on the board, and strut around like they won. Donald Trump is an example of this. He is the king pigeon.
This type of alternative-thinker is someone who is well natured in their foundation of their misunderstanding of science. They might have just been sucked down the rabbit hole of conspiracy documentaries or haven’t got any scientifically literate friends and are unable to discern misinformation from legitimate information.
They might be victim to groupthink bias, or a lack of education, or have no knowledge of what critical thinking actually is. Regardless, these are usually well-intentioned people who can’t filter good information from bad. They’ve heard vaccines cause injury and heard conspiracies of removed package-inserts admitting dangers. They’ve seen big pharma conspiracy videos and heard science is dictated by funding and is controlled by elites to preserve an agenda. If you didn’t know that was misleading, then you’d be right in thinking you’re doing the right thing.
These people can change their minds. Again, though - it depends on the person. Ultimately, it’s still up to them to change their own mind. With these people, the friendly voice of reason is essential. You cannot be the enemy in the conversation.
This type of alternative-thinker will absorb information like a sponge and have no problem regurgitating it more or less word for word. They will have a concept of what they’re talking about and will be very confident in their correctness. Beyond generalities usually seen, they will look to be discussing specifics, but you will usually find they're not understanding those specifics.
They will share links and studies, and quite likely they will redirect you to sites containing hundreds of links or links in bulk. They will use concepts and talking points which sound advanced but they actually don’t know much about them.
The fatal flaw is they think they've achieved proof by numbers when in reality, the proof presented is very usually devoid of quality, is misrepresenting the very studies they’re linking to, and are written by obviously biased people. They’ve not fact-checked or scrutinised the material they’ve presented as proof, and presume all alternative information is correct.
Some of these people can be reasoned with, albeit gradually. Having said that, they blend in with the last archetype very often. It is up to that person to change their mind, you will never do it. These people are usually prone to major bias which clouds their judgement despite seeming to be intelligent from the outside.
This goes from your average person falling deep in the rabbit hole to people with academic credentials who would be your typical fake experts. These people haven't just heard something scary on Facebook, they've investing time into accumulating information (which is often misleading and of low quality).
Community Leaders and figureheads
This one is almost impossible to reason with. These biased people have incentive to continue the spread of conspiracy theories. These are people of public following, or people with a conspiracy reputation, or those with financial incentive.
Presenters like Alex Jones who’s living are made from presenting Info Wars and making Documentaries about conspiracies.
Writers like David Icke who’s living comes from book sales and speaking events etc.
People like David Wolfe who are selling you something to combat the conspiracy such as EMF alarmists selling EMF shielding and inspections, who also sell their own EMF readers.
Politicians who are funded by industry such as the fossil fuel industry who avidly deny climate change.
These people have social, political, and financial incentives which prevent them from releasing their biases. The chances that any of these people changing their minds while their incentives enforcing their various biases remain intact, are microscopic at best. Alex Jones will never change his mind. David Icke will never change his mind. David Wolfe will never change his mind. There is no point trying.
Here is an example of a very long thread involving an alternative-thinker who was so beyond reason that he became the inspiration behind me calling this archetype the Pigeon. He was so sure he was right and no amount of reason or information could reach him. He didnt understand what he was arguing against, he didn't understand the information he was presenting, and he didn't even read the studies he shared or I shared to him. He didn't read anything but somehow his studies were unbiased, and all of mine were.
Truely a bizzare conversation where he gloated over being wrong, but he was so out of his depth he thought he was right. For a bit of fun I have added a little pigeon next to every "knock the pieces onto the floor, poop on the board and strut around like a winner" responses he sent.
The page collecting masks studies not addressing source control
The meta analysis
The double study fiasco
The pub med page
Without further ado - meet Lee the Pigeon
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