01 - Forming Views
From the Conspiracy Mentality section, I outlined how I first got into conspiracy theories, the mentality that you develop, and the distrust for authority. I also outlined how I came to re-evaluate my views and the journey to better understand the world I live in. I explained how confrontation was welcomed, and how being apart of the conspiracy mentality gave me a community, affirmation and a cause to believe in.
I now acknowledge that people, for the most part, do what they think is right and that often we conflate being correct with being morally good. I also explain how one-sided the mentality of an alternative-thinker is, where you're impossibly rejecting of counter-information, but validating information that bolsters your argument is welcome with open arms, and not scrutinised at all.
I showed how the human brain's evolved need to recognise patterns plays a part in the belief of these conspiracy theories, and we need to be aware of our natural pitfalls to avoid confirmation bias. Believing in conspiracies, or even a single conspiracy, doesn't mean that you're not intelligent or analytical, as any and everyone is able to succumb to these conspiracies.
In the Philosophy section, I explained what I feel it means to be a truth seeker. I believe that in order to honestly search for the truth, we need to scrutinise all information equally, including information supporting conspiracy theories. We should also accept that how we feel doesn't affect what is or isn't correct.
I started this section by outlining four ground rules:
-Recognise every claim has to be equally scrutinised, regardless of its source.
-Go where the provable evidence leads you.
-Accept the possibility that on any issue and at any time, you could be wrong.
-Understand that being wrong isn't a flaw, and admitting it will gain you respect.
I went over what logical fallacies are and how they are used to form logically inconsistent arguments. These include but are not limited to:
1. The black or white fallacy. Ignoring nuance by assuming there are only two opposing answers.
2. The ad-hominem fallacy. Attacking someone personally instead of refuting their argument.
3. Reversing the burden of proof. Demanding to be proven wrong instead of proving your claim to be correct with evidence.
4. The personal incredulity fallacy. Claiming something is incorrect because you don't understand it.
5. The composition fallacy. Trying to claim that because an element of your claim is correct, that the whole claim is correct.
6. The false cause fallacy. Claiming causation from correlation.
7. The anecdotal fallacy. Using individual experience as a method of proof instead of provable evidence.
8. The begging the question fallacy. Coercing the answer within your question.
9. Appealing to emotion. Using emotion as a way to justify an argument, instead of providing evidence.
I also shared what I believe you should do to help alternative-thinkers see your argument properly:
1. Learn to spot logical fallacies.
2. Expose logical fallacies indirectly by providing examples that highlight their inconsistent logic.
3. Be kind, calm, and respectful.
4. Be persistent.
I outlined what I feel are the three phases of an argument with an alternative-thinker:
1. The confident phase. Where ad-hominem attacks like "wake up" and "do some research" are thrown around, and your arguments are met with laughing emojis and not taken seriously.
2. The defensive phase. Where the alternative-thinker will either demand to be proven wrong, or they will present youtube videos as evidence with the occasional article.
3. The stalemate. When they know they can't defeat your argument, so they will either try to leave the conversation with a transparent excuse, disassociate themselves from the evidence you've proven wrong, or lean back on the "we'll have to agree to disagree" trope.
Finally, I showed what I think are the two opposing simultaneous states the alternative-thinkers operate in.
1. The external. The claim to be truth-seekers who are woke and critical thinkers.
2. The internal. The taking of conspiracy claims at face value and believeing what they're told by other theorists.
Each state protects the other if called out, which becomes very transparent when you analyse their behaviours knowing what subtext is and how to recognise it.
In the Science section, I showed you how science works from hypothesis to fact and theory, and misconceptions people have about the whole process. I then showed why peer-review is so important, by showing that conflict of interest has a hand in manipulating scientific research in favour of big corporations and politics, but also gave reasonable doubt to assume corporations funding studies isn't always nefarious.
I went over the concept of the half-life of facts, and how that, as well as science's constant evolution in what is and isn't considered fact, is a great basis for how we should live our lives and form our opinions. We can and should emulate the scientific process of reforming our understandings and opinions when new and better information is presented, not doubling down to prove our beliefs.
This outlook will allow us to be the true open truth-seekers alternative-thinkers claim to be. We should review the evidence, form our opinions from that, and if proven wrong, we repeat the process. Alternative-thinkers need to understand that they form the conclusion and work backwards by trying to prove the theory correct. We should hold no emotional attachment to opinions, we should be willing to disregard our opinions if they're proven incorrect or inaccurate.
I outlined the importance of fact-checking and using reputable sources by using David Icke as an example of someone who seems very convincing, but when I examined the content of his argument, I found it flawed and illogical. We should be sceptical of the conflict of interest large corporations and governments have, but also never underestimate the conflict of interest professional alternative-thinkers have when their revenue comes from selling conspiracies. Without selling people on conspiracy theories, Alex Jones has no TV show or documentaries, and David Icke has no books or speaking tours.
In the Critical Thinking section, I went over the nature of scepticism and how I think it is misunderstood and misrepresented, as well as the nature of critical thinking. I explain the various biases we all hold, and touched on the nature of ignorance.
I talked about politics and snowflakery from someone disatisfied with and receptive to both liberal and conservative politics. I broke down what I think the mirror characteristics are of liberalism and conservatism and how they're opposing value systems which actually behave the same.
I showed the bias in medinatrseam and alternative media and broke down the generic claim that the mainstream media lie, and howed examples using GroundNews and shared the ratings of sites, papers, and programmes from MediaBiasFactCheck.
I talked about the ever present subjective objectivity present in people exibiting the conspiracy mentality, and showed the dangers of tribalism by documenting the Jan 6th insurrection at the hand of MAGA Trimpists trying to "stop the steal".
I talked about acceptance of how things are and my own person process of active centrism. I finished up by talking about standards of evidence and showed you how to fact-check claims with examples.
I don't want to sound condescending, but I feel it's important to go over this even if you know it by now.
The correct way to form an opinion is:
Review the evidence > Fact check the sources > Put everything in their proper context > Form opinion.
The incorrect way to form an opinion is:
Watch some YouTube videos > Form conclusion > Gather information that supports conclusion > Ignore counter-evidence.
Additionally, opinions aren't a valid justification for presenting evidence. All opinions aren't valid.
I've seen people say you should respect everyone's opinion, but I think that's misguided. Would you respect the opinions of a neo-nazi who thinks Jews should be exterminated? Hell no. You should be respectful to people when arguing against them, but opinions deserve no respect by default.
You may have seen this meme floating around, but it demonstrates what I'm trying to say quite well.
Be extremely careful if you see anyone else or yourself saying:
"But we don't know if....." which usually actually means:
"I don't know that....." Ignorance can sit in plain sight. We should
learn to recognise it, especially when it comes from us.
That's it for this page. The next page is going to cover what I feel
are the bahvioural origins of accepting conspiracy theories.
Then, we're going to go over legitimate conspiracies.
Next Page: Conspiracies - The Origin