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How to have discussion with people who become conspiracy theorists
Posted: 25 June 2013 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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George - 25 June 2013 06:36 PM
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.

Hmmmn…sounds interesting.  Let me know how it is if you will.

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Posted: 25 June 2013 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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T-Bone-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.

Yes, I know.  Part of my first response was directed at that OP.  I stated it’s best to “not go there”.
What else can you do?  Just be you. 
Look what do you do….you determine if they are dead set against changing their minds or considering other possibilities.
You can tell this pretty quickly. (By the way this is for someone close to you…for strangers and periphery acquaintances-the hell with ‘em!)
So you can tell if someone is kind of “touched”.  Their reasoning is faulty and the theories are just ridiculous. In which case, don’t bring it up anymore.
But if the person shows wiggle room and a desire to explore other facts and reasoning then continue the debate with them.  Patiently and deliberately.
Be open to their points.  Let them stay open to yours.
Really there’s a difference between skeptics of history and politics and full blown touched people…nutters.
The touched ones are difficult. I think they have psych problems and their particular “tic” is to latch onto unfolding politics or history and incorporate that into some sort of coping mechanism.  A framework that helps them get a handle on reality…which sub-consciously is far more harsh to them.
Then you got the armchair skeptics..they are fine. Yes, I get it..it was kind of freaky that Oswald got shot by Ruby. It’s food for thought. It’s fun to digest that kind of stuff.  Or Area 51..secret places are neat.  Top Secret Govt Installations are always spooky. Are there alien corpses there…hell no. Crashed UFOs..no.
Was Oswald just murdered by a dying, crazy Ruby..yes. 
There’s a big difference in these 2 types of conspiracy theorists.
You can easily and oft times sadly see it in their responses to your rebuttals.
If it is someone you care about…just let it go.  Odds are it will go away in time.

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Posted: 26 June 2013 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I prefer people to be allowed to communicate openly regardless of how ridiculous they may appear to be. As I argue almost everywhere, selectively ignoring someone can be more abusive than direct confrontation. To me, if you support active ignorance even on the best of grounds, your very act justifies others to use the same tactic on you and you shouldn’t have a reason to complain. In order to improve society with a liberal conscience, you must treat others the way you expect to be treated. On the contrary, groups like the NRA, who selectively refuse investigative interviews wisely, at least have a rational basis for their attitude: they don’t believe in liberalism.

Besides, things like conspiracy theories can have validity as entertainment and sources of artistic creativity. (Is that what you were referring to by the recommendation of that book, George?) They can also reveal something that may turn out to be true if better evidence is to be discovered later on. The very essence of this discussion suggesting that we can selectively ignore someone for something we disagree with actually supports the real possibility for conspiracies to exist. Actively changing a subject, for instance, while someone is discussing their views with you may be impossible to prove that they certainly disagree with you but the act itself is justification for suspicion. And if it is consistent, you do actually have justification to claim that something unknown is conspiring against you even if your particular guesses for why may be incorrect.

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Posted: 26 June 2013 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I wonder if there is a survival advantage to being a conspiracy theorist?  In other words, it may be better to suspect deceptions that don’t exist than it is to miss one.  Paranoia seems to be just below the surface like a watchdog on a chain.  Stress, fevers, mental illness, etc. seem to let paranoia come out in everybody.

I know a coworker who tends to believe in conspiracy theories.  I try not to disagree directly, but I bring-up some information that doesn’t fit the theory to show that I’m not convinced.  Conspiracy theories and strong political views are similar IMO and this coworker has strong political views too - a mixture of far right and far left.  He is a well-adjusted, productive, intelligent person, so I don’t know why he is inclined to conspiracy theories.  It’s harmless, because the extreme viewpoints seem to have no effect on how he lives his life.

[ Edited: 26 June 2013 05:48 AM by ufo-buff ]
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Posted: 26 June 2013 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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And there is the conspiracy theory that is purposely spawned for nefarious purposes. 

Today still about 50% of the people believe Obama is an illligitimate president.  That rumor is the result of a real conspiracy to subvert a sitting president. No individual could receive a hearing on such ab outrageous claim, unless it was well financed.

How do you communicate with those people would seek the publicity to sow discord in the nation?

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Posted: 26 June 2013 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Scott Mayers - 26 June 2013 04:35 AM

Besides, things like conspiracy theories can have validity as entertainment and sources of artistic creativity. (Is that what you were referring to by the recommendation of that book, George?)

The book tries to explain or at least point to all the different theories on why we have evolved to spend most of our time listening to or making up stories. We spend many years of our lives (forgot how many exactly) either dreaming or daydreaming. Basically, if you are not busy talking to somebody, reading, watching TV, etc. you are daydreaming, i.e., making up stories. Fun book.

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Posted: 26 June 2013 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Write4U - 26 June 2013 05:38 AM

And there is the conspiracy theory that is purposely spawned for nefarious purposes. 

Today still about 50% of the people believe Obama is an illligitimate president.  That rumor is the result of a real conspiracy to subvert a sitting president. No individual could receive a hearing on such ab outrageous claim, unless it was well financed.

How do you communicate with those people would seek the publicity to sow discord in the nation?

Yes, there’s that angle too.

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Posted: 26 June 2013 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Unfortunately this whole thread is a bit silly. The OP defines a Conspiracy Theorist as someone who believes a ridiculous belief.  George doubles up on that by refering to “wacko beliefs”.  What I find hard to believe is how so many posters in a forum dedicated to “inquiry” seem to be completely credulous of the official line fed to citizens by the government and the media. And this is from a gov that has time and time and time again been proven to be covering up evidence. I’m not saying the gov has always and for every single event covered up facts. But it’s track record is such that to me at least, the “conspiracy” will always be that the gov is telling you the truth. And this is bipartisan of course.  Maybe what we should discuss is types of CT, for example a Gulf of Tonkin CT vs a Hitler Still Lives CT.  That seems a bit more interesting.

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Posted: 26 June 2013 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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CuthbertJ - 26 June 2013 10:30 AM

Unfortunately this whole thread is a bit silly. The OP defines a Conspiracy Theorist as someone who believes a ridiculous belief.  George doubles up on that by refering to “wacko beliefs”.  What I find hard to believe is how so many posters in a forum dedicated to “inquiry” seem to be completely credulous of the official line fed to citizens by the government and the media. And this is from a gov that has time and time and time again been proven to be covering up evidence. I’m not saying the gov has always and for every single event covered up facts. But it’s track record is such that to me at least, the “conspiracy” will always be that the gov is telling you the truth. And this is bipartisan of course.  Maybe what we should discuss is types of CT, for example a Gulf of Tonkin CT vs a Hitler Still Lives CT.  That seems a bit more interesting.

I mentioned the differences above…nevertheless your recent posting about the TWA/9-11 bit was definitely in the whacko column.
I also now have put you in the “don’t go there category”. 
The big difference was The Gulf of Tonkin incident wasn’t a theory…....HELLO?!?!

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Posted: 27 June 2013 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Posted: 27 June 2013 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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VYAZMA - 26 June 2013 10:57 AM
CuthbertJ - 26 June 2013 10:30 AM

Unfortunately this whole thread is a bit silly. The OP defines a Conspiracy Theorist as someone who believes a ridiculous belief.  George doubles up on that by refering to “wacko beliefs”.  What I find hard to believe is how so many posters in a forum dedicated to “inquiry” seem to be completely credulous of the official line fed to citizens by the government and the media. And this is from a gov that has time and time and time again been proven to be covering up evidence. I’m not saying the gov has always and for every single event covered up facts. But it’s track record is such that to me at least, the “conspiracy” will always be that the gov is telling you the truth. And this is bipartisan of course.  Maybe what we should discuss is types of CT, for example a Gulf of Tonkin CT vs a Hitler Still Lives CT.  That seems a bit more interesting.

I mentioned the differences above…nevertheless your recent posting about the TWA/9-11 bit was definitely in the whacko column.
I also now have put you in the “don’t go there category”. 
The big difference was The Gulf of Tonkin incident wasn’t a theory…....HELLO?!?!

I generally ignore your comments so I didn’t see your post. You missed my point about TWA case. Point is, there appears to have actually been a cover up. Now the truth may still be that the government line was correct, but there was a cover up as attested to by people directly involved. 

As far as Tonkin goes, the government line at the time is now known to be false. So the conspiracy theory at the time (The Gov cooked this up) has been proven correct.

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Posted: 27 June 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I generally ignore your comments so I didn’t see your post. You missed my point about TWA case. Point is, there appears to have actually been a cover up. Now the truth may still be that the government line was correct, but there was a cover up as attested to by people directly involved. 

I’m glad you do. Keep ignoring. 

As far as Tonkin goes, the government line at the time is now known to be false. So the conspiracy theory at the time (The Gov cooked this up) has been proven correct.

No, it was never a theory.  From the very beginning officers and sailors on the boat were there at the scene.  The President and His advisors were in the know.
Certainly policy experts and journalists as well as the North Vietnamese all knew what was really going on. Therefore it wasn’t a theory.
So the government line at the time was known to be false by many, many people right from the start.
It wasn’t even a conspiracy for that matter.  That’s standard operating procedure for countries to expand or initiate war.
That’s how we got into Iraq. That’s how the Germans got into Poland. etc etc…

[ Edited: 27 June 2013 11:49 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 27 June 2013 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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VYAZMA - 25 June 2013 07:42 PM

Yes, I know.  Part of my first response was directed at that OP.  I stated it’s best to “not go there”.
What else can you do?  Just be you. 
Look what do you do….you determine if they are dead set against changing their minds or considering other possibilities.
You can tell this pretty quickly. (By the way this is for someone close to you…for strangers and periphery acquaintances-the hell with ‘em!)
So you can tell if someone is kind of “touched”.  Their reasoning is faulty and the theories are just ridiculous. In which case, don’t bring it up anymore.
But if the person shows wiggle room and a desire to explore other facts and reasoning then continue the debate with them.  Patiently and deliberately.
Be open to their points.  Let them stay open to yours.
Really there’s a difference between skeptics of history and politics and full blown touched people…nutters.
The touched ones are difficult. I think they have psych problems and their particular “tic” is to latch onto unfolding politics or history and incorporate that into some sort of coping mechanism.  A framework that helps them get a handle on reality…which sub-consciously is far more harsh to them.
Then you got the armchair skeptics..they are fine. Yes, I get it..it was kind of freaky that Oswald got shot by Ruby. It’s food for thought. It’s fun to digest that kind of stuff.  Or Area 51..secret places are neat.  Top Secret Govt Installations are always spooky. Are there alien corpses there…hell no. Crashed UFOs..no.
Was Oswald just murdered by a dying, crazy Ruby..yes. 
There’s a big difference in these 2 types of conspiracy theorists.
You can easily and oft times sadly see it in their responses to your rebuttals.
If it is someone you care about…just let it go.  Odds are it will go away in time.

When is really okay to “just let it go”? When I don’t really know that person very well? When I don’t know them at all? When I know them well, but the beliefs aren’t really affecting their lives? When I know them well, but the beliefs look to be causing major grief in their lives? When I don’t know them well, but the beliefs look to be causing major grief in their lives?

I’m sure that this would depend on me and the particular person, so there probably isn’t one good answer. But something tells me that the point to “just let it go” is before the beliefs look to be causing major grief, whether that means challenging them in logical argument, or by getting them help. I’m not just talking about getting emotional over the Kennedy Assassination. I’m talking about people who seem to be latching on to every good conspiracy theory they hear.

This might be a better question to pose to a psychologist.

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Posted: 27 June 2013 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I’m sure that this would depend on me and the particular person, so there probably isn’t one good answer. But something tells me that the point to “just let it go” is before the beliefs look to be causing major grief, whether that means challenging them in logical argument, or by getting them help. I’m not just talking about getting emotional over the Kennedy Assassination. I’m talking about people who seem to be latching on to every good conspiracy theory they hear.

This might be a better question to pose to a psychologist.

Ok, what you’re saying is that the person believes in EVERY conspiracy coming down the pike. In that case you a talking about a tin foil hat guy. The one who believes that your cell phone is disrupting his brain waves or every other human in the city is an alien. Yeah, if that’s the case then you need to page Dr. Freud. you’ll have no meaningful conversation with a paranoid delusional.


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Posted: 27 June 2013 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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T-Bone-When is really okay to “just let it go”? When I don’t really know that person very well? When I don’t know them at all? When I know them well, but the beliefs aren’t really affecting their lives? When I know them well, but the beliefs look to be causing major grief in their lives? When I don’t know them well, but the beliefs look to be causing major grief in their lives?

If the beliefs are causing major grief…yeah, they gotta get help. Someone close to me suffers from depression. That person also latches on to conspiracy type stuff.
His is the “jews run the world bit.” He also exhibits other CT type stuff occasionally…there might be more. I don’t know. Because I try not to bring it up. We just argue about it.(big suprise I know… cheese ) The thing is I let it go because I’m certain the real problem is his depression. So solving the CT stuff is irrelevant. That’s a symptom.

I’m sure that this would depend on me and the particular person, so there probably isn’t one good answer. But something tells me that the point to “just let it go” is before the beliefs look to be causing major grief, whether that means challenging them in logical argument, or by getting them help. I’m not just talking about getting emotional over the Kennedy Assassination. I’m talking about people who seem to be latching on to every good conspiracy theory they hear.

This might be a better question to pose to a psychologist.

Yeah, it depends on the person for me.  I only care about people close to me in matters like this. If you want someone to get better..then you want them to get better. Do what you can. The person close to me occasionally addresses his issue. But he struggles also. What can I do? He tried meds. He was iffy about those.
I hate to friggin’ see it. Thankfully his CT bits don’t consume him.

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