1 of 3
1
How to have discussion with people who become conspiracy theorists
Posted: 25 June 2013 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22

While we can discuss the multitude of ways how people are wrong with conspiracy theories here all the time, when it comes to actually talking with one, what tactics do people find successful? The problem is that they believe themselves to be rational, but are almost always very defensive, so while they are willing to engage in discussion, anything that they see as a veiled insult to their intelligence breaks the discussion down very quickly. And we know how easily people can misinterpret what someone else says. It’s a problem when you want to maintain a good friendship. How does good communication happen?

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

I have learned that if one wants to maintain a friendship with a person who holds a wacko belief, it is best to avoid a conversation on that wacko topic. The only people whom I have known to change their mind were, to use a cliché metaphor, attached to their beliefs by a rubber instead of a metal chain.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 10:43 AM

While we can discuss the multitude of ways how people are wrong with conspiracy theories here all the time, when it comes to actually talking with one, what tactics do people find successful? The problem is that they believe themselves to be rational, but are almost always very defensive, so while they are willing to engage in discussion, anything that they see as a veiled insult to their intelligence breaks the discussion down very quickly. And we know how easily people can misinterpret what someone else says. It’s a problem when you want to maintain a good friendship. How does good communication happen?

If it’s a friend of yours I’m sorry to hear that. I encounter it briefly with friends and relatives.  Very seldom.  My brother believes in the whole jewish
world domination thing.  It’s sad really. The best thing is to just “not go there”.
Most conspiracy theorists also believe they have the upper hand in an argument because most conspiracy theories involve subterfuge.
Government subterfuge for example.  Or corporate controlled subterfuge. This invariably leads them to think that most of us countering their silly BS, are
not seeing the full picture because we are being controlled by some media bogeyman, or other “group think” mentality.
Often their favorite rebuttal is along the lines of “That’s exactly what they want you to think!” . That’s a perfect example.
I think this phenomena is getting more prevalent due to the internet.  People can disseminate these ridiculous ideas rapidly and widespread.
It used to be that people read books. A book is far more comprehensive on a single subject than 2-3 paragraphs in wiki article.
Or bouncing BS off each other in on-line Forums like these.
By getting a large, encompassing picture set forth through a book people can get a better idea of the mechanics of how history unfolds.
This is huge!
Getting ideas on how history unfolds in small, selected packets of bits and bytes is not productive other than to give that person rote memorized nuggets of trivia
that they can recall to substantiate ridiculous claims.
A cure for these maladies would be for people to read comprehensive, reputable(course of study) large books on history of their choice. Certainly 18th to 20 the century history. The kind of history that can be dry in places and covers economics, politics, science, and culture.
In reading these histories, people will realize that there are conspiracies in life. And they are easily identifiable and explainable.
And try as they might, we’re not kept hidden.
But books and long attention spans are going the way of the wooly! So we are going to get more and more of these “reasonable people.”

[ Edited: 25 June 2013 12:06 PM by VYAZMA ]
 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

Absolutely not. I disagree with you completely. They may seem intelligent, but that is obviously from rote osmosis.
If one thinks that GW Bush for example was behind the 9/11 attacks what does that say about their critical reasoning skills?
If I had a PhD in Astrophysics but I walked around telling strangers and friends alike that Lions once ruled a nation in Africa centuries ago, but were conquered by humans and subsequently lost their ability to vocally communicate- would that make me intelligent? I don’t think so.
Keep in mind books have been written about the Lion Kingdom, others believe it too. It’s on the internet.(not really..this is just an example.)
I would think that I wouldn’t be intelligent..I just had good memorization skills in regards to math and star charts and astrophysics.
In this forum, the nutters either solely engage in their conspiracy discussions and don’t partake in other threads, or they partake in other threads
and usually their point of view is still centered around related topics concerning their particular “conspiracy dynamic”.
So it’s either lack of intelligence….or a psychological condition. Or the direct result of the new way in which info is disseminated and digested.
That new way being the ability to call up specific short bursts of info at command. It started with VHS tapes and kids sitting in front of TV and watching
Barney at will, as often as they wanted. A pacifier. This evolved or devolved with perfect timing for that generation right into the computer/internet era.
Now people can choose the facts the want to read about or view on TV or Video.  In the past, people could choose this in books, but the peripheral
data absorbed from a book for example was sufficient for the person to retain an open mind and use better cross referencing techniques, and allowed the person to engage their own reasoning and logic in this data dissemination.  This is the complete obverse of selecting the specific, pre-supposed knowledge one wants to become acquainted with. Reinforcement of wrong ideas.
I’m not saying that the internet or DVDs are totally bad.  Obviously they have great potential for learning and info dissemination.
Just remember what Rod Serling and others said about the television medium for example.  Someone else said it was a vast wasteland.
We know this to be certainly true!

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

The problem, if the person is intelligent and well-read, that they have accepted some extremely basic premise as fact and logically built their entire system from that.  I’ve found it’s almost impossible to change that basic belief.  I don’t discuss those topics with them but rather, find all sorts of other things we both enjoy talking about.

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

Yes, the vast majority are middle-class, educated individuals. Reading a book about it now.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
George - 25 June 2013 01:08 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

Yes, the vast majority are middle-class, educated individuals. Reading a book about it now.

What’s the name of the book?

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22
VYAZMA - 25 June 2013 12:38 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

Absolutely not. I disagree with you completely. They may seem intelligent, but that is obviously from rote osmosis.
If one thinks that GW Bush for example was behind the 9/11 attacks what does that say about their critical reasoning skills?
If I had a PhD in Astrophysics but I walked around telling strangers and friends alike that Lions once ruled a nation in Africa centuries ago, but were conquered by humans and subsequently lost their ability to vocally communicate- would that make me intelligent? I don’t think so.
Keep in mind books have been written about the Lion Kingdom, others believe it too. It’s on the internet.(not really..this is just an example.)
I would think that I wouldn’t be intelligent..I just had good memorization skills in regards to math and star charts and astrophysics.
In this forum, the nutters either solely engage in their conspiracy discussions and don’t partake in other threads, or they partake in other threads
and usually their point of view is still centered around related topics concerning their particular “conspiracy dynamic”.
So it’s either lack of intelligence….or a psychological condition. Or the direct result of the new way in which info is disseminated and digested.
That new way being the ability to call up specific short bursts of info at command. It started with VHS tapes and kids sitting in front of TV and watching
Barney at will, as often as they wanted. A pacifier. This evolved or devolved with perfect timing for that generation right into the computer/internet era.
Now people can choose the facts the want to read about or view on TV or Video.  In the past, people could choose this in books, but the peripheral
data absorbed from a book for example was sufficient for the person to retain an open mind and use better cross referencing techniques, and allowed the person to engage their own reasoning and logic in this data dissemination.  This is the complete obverse of selecting the specific, pre-supposed knowledge one wants to become acquainted with. Reinforcement of wrong ideas.
I’m not saying that the internet or DVDs are totally bad.  Obviously they have great potential for learning and info dissemination.
Just remember what Rod Serling and others said about the television medium for example.  Someone else said it was a vast wasteland.
We know this to be certainly true!

This is precisely the kind of attitude that will kill a conversation before it even starts.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

Oh really?  How so?  Pick a certain point of mine in the preceding texts and rebut.
What conversation are you speaking of?  This one here in the forum, or the one you want to have with your friend(s) who are conspiracy theorists?
George mentioned “educated middle class people”....what does educated mean? Jumping through hoops? Memorization of curricula?
Or is “educated” believing the moon landings were staged?

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

Stop using amorphous terms like “well read”.  What does that even mean?
Does that mean the person reads alot of books.  Or does that mean the person reads the “right” books?
Or does that mean the person reads alot of the right books?
What if the person is reading lot’s of conspiracy theory books?  Are they well read?

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

How do you want to have a conversation with these people Trombone?
Huhn?  What’s your ideal way of having a conversation with anybody?
Nice and polite? Politically correct?  No hard feelings?
How do you wish to have the conversation?
Once you figured out how you want to have the conversation..then have it that way!
Why would you want other people’s opinions on how to have a conversation?
I find figuring out why people feel the way they do in the first place helps me determine how I wan’t to have conversation with them.
I’m only interested in reducing their mis-conceptions to a point. After that prejudice will take over.  I warmly embrace it.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6141
Joined  2009-02-26

Take the recent IRS “conspiracy” to target conservative non-profits.

Turns out that both conservative and progressive applicants were “screened” and in the wake of “Citizen’s United” the entire conspiracy consisted of IRS trying to form a consistent method of screening and evaluating what constitutes “some political activity”.

The law used to forbid non-profits from engaging in “any” political activities, which was changed to allow “some” political activity.  But how does one establish a screening process? You target applicants who show intent to engage in some political activity, no?

And there you have it.  Basically every coordinated activity may be called a conspiracy, it just depends on who you want to slander without liability.

Watch this,

http://www.hulu.com/watch/504424#i0,p7,d0  (@ 5:20)

[ Edited: 25 June 2013 08:07 PM by Write4U ]
 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22
VYAZMA - 25 June 2013 01:37 PM

Oh really?  How so?  Pick a certain point of mine in the preceding texts and rebut.
What conversation are you speaking of?  This one here in the forum, or the one you want to have with your friend(s) who are conspiracy theorists?
George mentioned “educated middle class people”....what does educated mean? Jumping through hoops? Memorization of curricula?
Or is “educated” believing the moon landings were staged?

If you go back and re-read my OP, I was asking for ways in which communication is enabled, not reasons why communications is not worth it. Hence, I am talking about conversing with conspiracy theorists, and I wouldn’t start with all of the favorite prejudices against conspiracy theorists. That’s like walking up to an Atheist and telling them all the reasons why they’re wrong to hate God.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3218
Joined  2011-08-15

If you go back and re-read my OP, I was asking for ways in which communication is enabled, not reasons why communications is not worth it. Hence, I am talking about conversing with conspiracy theorists, and I wouldn’t start with all of the favorite prejudices against conspiracy theorists. That’s like walking up to an Atheist and telling them all the reasons why they’re wrong to hate God.

First of all YOU have to be interested enough to have an open dialogue with the CT and be armed with detailed information concerning the incident etc. Without some background you have no way to connect with the theorist. Also be aware that they construct their argument from evidence that leads them to an already preconceived notion of what happened and how. An example would be (until the twin towers tragedy) the Kennedy assassination. I have a close friend and colleague who is firmly convinced that there was more than one shooter and that the CIA and FBI were in cahoots to cover it up. The evidence was ultimately inconclusive and there actually WAS a cover up of sorts by J. Edgar Hoover who wanted to blame Oswald and end the controversy. We have been debating this for years, he insisting on the Cuban connection or the mob due to Kennedy family members reportedly having mafia connections and the list is endless. In the end we agreeded to disagree on the issue after coming to the end of the evidence. He faithfully maintains that there was a cover up and I disagree. We’re still friends BTW, we’ve just moved on to different subjects. Unlike here on the forum where conspiracy theories are parsed, hashed and rehashed to the point of absurbitiy and when the information is exhausted, it is recycled in another OP in an endless cycle of gain saying, ultimately accomplishing nothing. And while it’s a good mental exercise, debating a CT with a preconceived mindset will ultimately lead to frustration. The only thing IMO that you can do is show your interest, present your counter evidence and see if he/she is interested in an open debate. If not then it would be a useless waste of time on your part.


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 June 2013 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
VYAZMA - 25 June 2013 01:11 PM
George - 25 June 2013 01:08 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 June 2013 12:16 PM

I think that it’s unwise to assume a deficit in learning for any particular person who gets into conspiracy theories. Many of them are intelligent and well-read.

Yes, the vast majority are middle-class, educated individuals. Reading a book about it now.

What’s the name of the book?

“The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human” by Jonathan Gottschall.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1