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Fnord
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08 Feb 2021, 5:23 pm

Here is the short list of resources for skeptics and anyone else who wants to fact-check someone's claims before countering those claims.  They are also useful for checking one's own beliefs before posting them.

• Check Your Fact Website

• Cult News Network

• Encyclopedia of American Loons

 • Factcheck Website 

 • Mythbusters Website 

 • Politifact Website 

 • Skeptic Website 

 • Snopes Website 

 • Truth or Fiction Website 

... and ...

 • Wikipedia's List of Common Misconceptions  (Each entry is worded as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated. These entries are concise summaries of the main subject articles, which can be consulted for more detail.)


Please PM any suggestions for inclusion.



Fnord
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04 Jun 2021, 8:47 am

How to Spot a Conspiracy Theory


Before the January 6th coup attempt, before covid, and even before the Trump administration, Scientific American published an article outlining the signs that what you hear or read is a conspiracy theory.  And while it is true that SOME conspiracy theories have turned out to be valid, the majority of conspiracy theories are pure crap.

We should look for signs that indicate a conspiracy theory is likely to be untrue.  The more that it manifests the following characteristics, the less probable that the theory is grounded in reality, which means that this is NOT an "All or Nothing" list -- actually, as more of these signs become apparent, the more likely it is that what you are being brainwashed into believing is actually a false conspiracy theory.

  1. Proof of the conspiracy supposedly emerges from a pattern of "connecting the dots" with a web of assumptions and "What If" statements between events that need not be causally connected.  When no evidence supports these connections except the allegation of the conspiracy or when the evidence fits equally well to other causal connections -- or to randomness -- the conspiracy theory is likely to be false.

  2. The agents behind the pattern of the conspiracy would need nearly superhuman power to pull it off.  People are usually not nearly so powerful as we think they are.

  3. The conspiracy is complex, and its successful completion demands a large number of elements.

  4. Similarly, the conspiracy involves large numbers of people who would all need to keep silent about their secrets.  The more people involved, the less realistic it becomes.

  5. The conspiracy encompasses a grand ambition for control over a nation, economy or political system.  If it suggests world domination, the theory is even less likely to be true.

  6. The conspiracy theory ratchets up from small events that might be true to much larger, much less probable events.

  7. The conspiracy theory assigns portentous, sinister meanings to what are most likely innocuous, insignificant events.

  8. The theory tends to commingle facts and speculations without distinguishing between the two and without assigning degrees of probability or of factuality.

  9. The theorist is indiscriminately suspicious of all government agencies or private groups, which suggests an inability to nuance differences between true and false conspiracies.

10. The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations, rejecting all disconfirming evidence and blatantly seeking only confirmatory evidence to support what he or she has a priori determined to be the truth.


The fact that politicians sometimes lie or that corporations occasionally cheat does not mean that every event is the result of a tortuous conspiracy.  Most of the time stuff just happens, and our brains connect the dots into meaningful patterns -- a process called pareidolia.


Source:
 This Scientific American Article 


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