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Why Conspiracy Theories Suck



Global or grand conspiracy theories tend to be full of logic holes. In order to believe them, one must draw inferences or believe coincidences which are, at best, …

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38 Comments

  1. As a former conspiracy buff, I know just how easy it is to get sucked down the rabbit hole until you are the only one who understands how the world really works and everyone else is blindly going along with the mainstream news and views.  It was difficult to see some of my cherished theories comprehensively dismantled by genuine investigators but it inspired me to apply critical thinking and to do my own research to arrive at conclusions.  Occam's razor is invaluable in this.  It's why, for example, I have no trouble with the ideas of conspiracies and corruption in FIFA but I find most of the 9/11 theories to be lacking in credibility.

  2. My personal favourite pathetic retort is the old 'Educate yourself' trick. You call someone on their bullshit and ask them to present sources. They have no sources, naturally, so they try to turn it around by putting the burden of proof on you, usually telling you to "educate yourself" so they don't have to bother.

  3. So at 14:38 you do admit that there are occasions where parties conspire to achieve their own ends. So it is not so much a case of "conspiracy theories suck" but the ones that don't have logical backing and evidence to support them.

    History has shown that there are a number of conspiracies that have occurred. That is dwarfed by the number of insane conspiracy theories but at the end of the day the irrational theories have no bearing on the actual number of conspiracies that occur.

    It is a positive to push critical thinking in this direction….. but getting four independent sources is becoming harder each day with the amount of information that comes from Reuters and AP.

  4. "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." – that was Woodrow Wilson speaking. Of course, he probably just got that from crazy conspiracy websites. You know how ex-presidents are, flighty, gullible, etc.

  5. Thank you Chris for this video. This definitely goes hand in hand with my teaching philosophies of something I call "responsible learning" to students in a new information age. It's not only about being able to sort out the information that's out there but to understand the biases and logical fallacies within ourselves in order to prevent things like the measles outbreak or clarify misunderstandings about climate change.

  6. FINALLY THERE IS SOMEONE WHO MADE A VIDEO ABOUT HOW SHITTY SOME CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN BE!!!!
    9/11 was not an inside job!!!!
    Sandy hook was not a hoax!!!
    The British government didn't do 7/7!!!!!
    The world won't end until a billion years have passed!!!!!!
    The government never lies!!!!!!!

    Y DA FUK DEY LIEN?

  7. Good to see you make great videos outside the subject of Scientology. I think this video will help a lot of people who worry about global conspiracies. I will have to watch it more than once to get all the info from it. This video at least gets me to consider looking at things from a more critical perspective. Keep up the good work.

  8. There ARE conspiracies….people conspire, but you need solid evidence to prove them. That is the standard which they must meet. 911 "truth", those who think anyone other than Oswald killed Kennedy, they have not met that standard.

  9. I loved this video. I spend to much of my time arguing with family members who believe the pyramids where built by aliens or the government is seeding the clouds to reduce the population etc. etc. I know the world has real problems so I get frustrated having to (spin my wheels)on what I consider "mental masturbation" .

  10. I've had a lifetime to think about some of these things. Brought up as a catholic, which I began to resent from about age 13 or 14, I became quite agnostic and questioning from an early age, and now an atheist I guess. Being retired, I am able to give more time to these thoughts. I guess I have been influenced quite a lot in the last 20 years or so by such luminaries as Carl Sagan and James Randi (both brilliant!) and the following the travails of Christopher Hitchens, Dr Bronowski (spelling??) and Richard Attenborough. I followed the 'rise' of various conspiracy theories, mostly with mirth and wondering how people could be so gullible. Well, enough from me – keep up the good work!

  11. nice job. I think more people in the skeptic community should tackle the issue of conspiracy cults. it's a growing concern like never before.

  12. I guess the problem is the word "theory". Many conspiracy "theories" don't qualify as "theory" (in a scientific context). Because they rely to often just (or to heavy) on speculations and interpretation than on falsifiable data.

  13. Thanks so much for this presentation. I recently stumbled across Cathy O'Brien's account of …well just about every level of conspiracy theory imaginable. What I found confusing about her story was the way she would just jump around from topic to topic- from claiming sexual abuse by major political figures to declaring mind control techniques were established by the Spanish Inquisition. My sense was that everyday people hearing her account would likely to believe her simply because the ammount of information she dumps in one lecture is so codensed and overwhelming that its easier to nod in agreement than stop and think about the contents of her communication.
    I've read that the CIA did run mind control experiments via MK ULTRA but the allegations of Cathy O'Brien seemed to connect experiments with all sorts of other phenomenon that seemed bizarre. In order to try to grasp what she is claiming I tried to find critiques or analyses of her claims but most of what I found seemed to give up on analysing her allegations and instead shrugged the issue off with "Why would she make this up?". I also would have liked some concrete info on the guy who 'saved' her from whatever it waa she was involved in. He made claims about being ex CIA but again didn't provide any documentation or proof to show he was who he claimed to be. In relation to critical thinking I find the lack of critque or analysis on certain topics tends to make me question the source. Anyone can make up all sorts of stories- without evidence or analysis of information reported I've learnt to either dismiss strange tales or simply enjoy the novelty of bizarre conspiratol theories.

  14. Chris, with all due respect, brother, have you ever actually confirmed the Branch Davidians were a dangerous cult, or have you been simply "passing on a lie", as you say? I ask because you often include Karesh in your list of dangerous cult leaders. To be fair, you should include the names of every fundamentalist christian leader who ever promoted their brand of eschatology; for apparently that is the only 'crime' Koresh was guilty of; at least from what I've seen.

    I am an athiest with agnostic leanings (or perhaps it's the other way around?), but I do not believe the media was honest in their treatment of Karesh; He has become an easy target, and any critically thinking person should do their homework before taking the mainstream media at their word.

    As I'm sure you're aware; seeing as you were rather busy participating in a cult for nearly 3 decades; you may have some catching up to do when it comes to certain 'conspiratorial' matters. Having had my own experience/involvement with Fundy Christianity and the messianic movement, I know how one can feel lost, confused, angry, or "un-grounded", etc., and find themselves looking for something, anything, that resembles truth, to grasp on to. And in my experience, and yes research, mainstream institutions are chock full of liars, spin doctors, and the like. Be it Big Bang cosmology, Bush's alleged war on terror, big Pharma, mainstream media, etc, etc…

    Many ex-scientologists and newly independants have said they seriously considered suicide at one point or another. Well, I can certainly relate. Imagine, my finding out that I'd been lied to about pretty much everything! Be it religion, the banking system, 911, and so on. In such circumstances, to who or what does one turn??? To God? To drugs and alcohol? To scientology???

     I don't mean to be harsh, just pointing out how easy it is for any of us to fall into the trap of believing lies and propaganda, even when, logically, we know better.

    Nevertheless, thanks for all your videos, and the work you have put into exposing Scientology. You're doing mankind a great service, and I applaud you for it.

  15. Fallacy #1: Attack the messenger and not the message.
    — certainly source matters. Internet is not exactly a source as much a medium by which sources are shared. Therefore the "on the internet" crack is cheap and suggests that NYT or Nature are not on the internet.

    Fallacy #2: "Conspiracy theory" hasn't be defined. Disciplined discourse requires a definition of terms. Since you are making some claim about a particular term that you find rhetorically important, the onus is upon you to define your terms. By not doing so, you're …

    Fallacy #3: Begging the question.

  16. Anyway, just a few hours listening to Mae Brussell or a few hours with Tragedy and Hope and one might draw conclusions that are a little more grounded in fact. The term "conspiracy theory" was introduced into the lexicon after the assassination of the chief executive at the time, in order to otherwise silence and marginalize those who did not accept the official version of events. Are we to conclude that the official version of events are not "conspiracy theories"? What is the relationship of a "non-conspiracy theory" to the evidence?

    Basically, Jan Irving of GnosticMedia is someone whom you might care to interview, if he agrees to come on the show. He specializes in "critical thinking" and holds a perspective decidedly in contrast to your own.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. You say about producing facts, how can this be done in the case of 9/11 when the US government has covered them up? And that's not just me saying this, that's a massive percentage of the US population!
    And why are top scientific professionals, saying that the science doesn't support their original story? And last but not least, why would the US government pass laws, that makes you a domestic terrorist if you don't believe the original story ?

  18. The more firefighters who comes to a fire, the greater the fire and the more dead people.
    Conclusion: Do not call the fire department! 🙂

  19. Chris the convoy was about Rocky flats and Rocky Arsenal. We have been trying to get rid of the after math. We have been trying to close these areas so the best way was to cover. Now I don't know what was in the trailer but I know where they came from. It may be hard for you because you are not a long term Coloradan but we have been trying to clean up for a while. I was part of the clean up but what they moved was above my pay grade. So don't take what the media says to heart. As for 20,000 raised that is crazy. The MS runs make so much more in less time. Please look at all the facts and research the closing of the rocky flats and arsenal and to this date that area is still closed off to the public. Ask yourself Why?

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