Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Half-formed posts, inchoate philosophies, and the germs of deep thought.

Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Sun May 10, 2020 2:29 am

Is there anyone here who "lost their faith" in a conspiracy theory? How did that change happen? How deep were you, what made you change your mind?
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sun May 10, 2020 2:58 am

When I was a wee lad, around 14 or 15, I believed in conspiracies....
I also thought California was going to fall into the ocean, before I moved here,
If there was a conspiracy book out there, I bought it.....of course, this was the
mid- seventies and there were a lot of conspiracies out there....I lost my belief
in conspiracies once I could reason it out.....however, the one conspiracy I still
believe in, is the UFO and the government holding spacecraft in some air force base....

other theories I held and no longer hold includes new age theories of Velikovsky
and Sitchen....vampires, New world order, end of world theories....
but I grew up and lost my childish beliefs in conspiracy theories.....

a conspiracy theory is easy to hold when one is a child because it seems to,
just seems to explain some of the mysteries I we see as children.....

or to put another way, I lost my faith in conspiracies once I was old enough to
grasp the truth....

Kropotkin
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security
wind up with neither."
"Ben Franklin"
Peter Kropotkin
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 8413
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:47 am
Location: blue state

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Sun May 10, 2020 4:46 am

What specifically changed your mind? Or what generally changed about your mind that made you change your beliefs?

I've often been conspiracy-adjacent. I'm a Mulderite: I want to believe. But I can't recall any that have fully convinced me. I briefly entertained 9/11 conspiracy theories, but abandoned them as inadequately defensible (there is a strong presumption against them, and the evidence looks like noise in a messy event). UFOs are a given, but alien visitors are still unlikely (though less so with the recent Pentagon release).

But I get the impression that full on conspiracy thinking rewrites ontology in such a way that it makes being convinced otherwise very difficult. Maybe that's not such an issue in childhood, when your ontology is still in flux?

Do you think that conspiracy thinking is a style of thought, or is it more like an article of faith, where everyone has their own and finds everyone else's facially absurd?
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sun May 10, 2020 9:47 pm

Carleas wrote:What specifically changed your mind? Or what generally changed about your mind that made you change your beliefs?

I've often been conspiracy-adjacent. I'm a Mulderite: I want to believe. But I can't recall any that have fully convinced me. I briefly entertained 9/11 conspiracy theories, but abandoned them as inadequately defensible (there is a strong presumption against them, and the evidence looks like noise in a messy event). UFOs are a given, but alien visitors are still unlikely (though less so with the recent Pentagon release).

But I get the impression that full on conspiracy thinking rewrites ontology in such a way that it makes being convinced otherwise very difficult. Maybe that's not such an issue in childhood, when your ontology is still in flux?

Do you think that conspiracy thinking is a style of thought, or is it more like an article of faith, where everyone has their own and finds everyone else's facially absurd?


K: I lost my faith in conspiracy theories once I grew up... I no longer needed them to make sense of the
world...conspiracy theories are a means of understanding the world and placing oneself within that
world... quite often those who believe, will call other who don't believe, as being naïve...
which is a way of saying those who believe are not naïve. it is a means of justifying one
place in the universe..... for example, let us say, I hold pretensions as to being a genius
or someone who could run a corporation or company... but the reality is, I am a low level
hack... I can justify my position by holding to conspiracy theories about the Jews for example....

I use conspiracy theories to explain why I am at the low level I am at....

it is a justification theory meant to justify my own standing in life......

if only there weren't immigrants or aliens or the "elite" or the Jews or
secret societies, I would be rich and famous and powerful and have titles
and fame...people with greater desires then talent use conspiracy theories
to justify their place in life....

I outgrew conspiracy theories when I was young because I didn't have the ego
or vanity to justify my current standing in the universe....

I didn't care that I was poor and without titles or fame.....it didn't matter to me...

and thus I had no use for conspiracy theories......

a person who still needs conspiracy theories is a weak person....
they use the conspiracy theories to justify their low position in life...
if only there weren't .........I would be ........

conspiracy theories come from the weak and helpless.....

and as an adult, I didn't need them anymore.....

Kropotkin
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security
wind up with neither."
"Ben Franklin"
Peter Kropotkin
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 8413
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:47 am
Location: blue state

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Tue May 12, 2020 3:15 am

That's an interesting theory of conspiracy thinking. I find the causal story compelling, though I disagree with the moral assessment.

I had thought of it as something more like teleology, a kind of pareidolia where one sees intent and deliberate action in noise. But that's assuming that beliefs are mostly about accurately describing the world, and these beliefs are the edge cases of an otherwise reasonable belief-forming heuristic.

The way you're describing it, conspiracy thinking might be rational towards a different end: as protective of a person's sense of self or worth, or a form of learned helplessness that dampers risk taking. Adaptivity must be a primary function of belief formation; accuracy is only instrumentally valuable. Goddamn that's depressing.

But I think that means it's not a moral failing. It could be rational to believe even if the belief is false, and to the extent it's selfish, it's taken in defense against the low status put on a person by others.
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Bob » Wed May 13, 2020 3:08 pm

I had a while when I was susceptible to conspiracy theories, UFOs and 9/11 occupied me most, but the UFO thing went away when I realised that the universe is expanding and the chance of finding us in the vastness of space seemed unrealistic. Added to that, I became aware of how reliant we are upon our planet, vegetation, warmth, love and people, even if we sometimes imagine ourselves to be independent of all these things. We are a part of the planet, not just “on” it.
The 9/11 thing went away quite quickly when I realised how much had to fall in place to make something like that work. There still remains a lot of unanswered questions, but that is really only because the authorities keep tight on the issue. If they would explain away the things that people can’t understand, it would go away completely.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
User avatar
Bob
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3456
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:20 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Ecmandu » Wed May 13, 2020 9:07 pm

I think people who conspire are idiots.

There are certainly idiots in life.

9/11 is straight forward — jet fuel does not melt metal (obviously, since planes are made of metal)

However, thermite does melt metal.
Ecmandu
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 10810
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:22 am

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Thu May 14, 2020 3:12 am

Bob, it sounds like you experienced the change as simply being susceptible to reason. I think I experience it that way too, and it's blinkered me to the possibility that other people aren't similarly susceptible to reason.

But Peter's got me wondering if the way I experienced it is actually the way it happened. It's true that I believe them less and less as I've grown into the good graces of the status quo.

Bob wrote:The 9/11 thing went away quite quickly when I realised how much had to fall in place to make something like that work.

This deals with most of them for me. They define the conspiracy after they've already seen what happened. There's no public information about motives, so whatever happens merely reveals the motives of the conspiracy, so it's always a conspiracy to make exactly what just happened, happen.

And the systems they're supposed to have moved like marionettes are chaotic. Look at how well we predict the weather and then imagine a conspiracy trying to manipulate the vast mesh of global government and commerce with an ability to predict what will happen as accurate as the best weather forecasters.

Ecmandu wrote:9/11 is straight forward

Ecmandu, are there beliefs you do think of as discredited because they are conspiracy theories? Do you recognize that as a failure mode and just think it doesn't apply to that particular belief, or do you reject it as a failure mode?

What do you think about flat earth? Lizard people? Moon landing?
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Ecmandu » Thu May 14, 2020 3:42 am

Carleas,

Your reply was somewhat bizarre considering my post was only in response to 9/11.

Some ideas out there are just that. Ideas, not theories. You certainly know about the Flying Spaghetti Monster !?

Conspiracy theories are largely a replacement for a feeling of lack of agency.

Why the moon landing? Infinite space scares the shit out of people!

Why lizard men? Life can’t be chaotic! That’s scarier than lizard people!

Why the flat earth? Certainly god is good!
Ecmandu
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 10810
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:22 am

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Thu May 14, 2020 4:46 am

Ecmandu wrote:Some ideas out there are just that. Ideas, not theories.

I don't think a conspiracy theory is necessarily a theory, it's a compound noun. But I'm curious about the distinction between an idea and a theory. I have used "conspiracy thinking" to refer to a general type of thinking that is behind conspiracy theories more generally. That has the character of a theory, as distinct from the ideas of the specific events and the who did what why.

Ecmandu wrote:Conspiracy theories are largely a replacement for a feeling of lack of agency.

Continuing on the above, one characteristic of conspiracy theories is the institutional distrust: the system isn't just taking our agency, it's also lying to us about it, and it's using lies to get the sheeple to keep it going. That pattern fits a large number of beliefs I would call "conspiracy theories". Do you agree?

Do you see the pattern in the moon landing, lizard men, and flat earth? Does 9/11 break that pattern, or does it fit the pattern but it's just a coincidence?
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby WendyDarling » Fri May 15, 2020 12:31 am

Carleas wrote
Continuing on the above, one characteristic of conspiracy theories is the institutional distrust: the system isn't just taking our agency, it's also lying to us about it, and it's using lies to get the sheeple to keep it going. That pattern fits a large number of beliefs I would call "conspiracy theories". Do you agree?

Yes.

So you don't believe the history books that Julius Caesar was murdered by means of a conspiracy?
I AM OFFICIALLY IN HELL!

I live my philosophy, it's personal to me and people who engage where I live establish an unspoken dynamic, a relationship of sorts, with me and my philosophy.

Cutting folks for sport is a reality for the poor in spirit. I myself only cut the poor in spirit on Tues., Thurs., and every other Sat.
User avatar
WendyDarling
Heroine
 
Posts: 7695
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:52 am
Location: Hades

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri May 15, 2020 10:21 am

Carleas wrote:Continuing on the above, one characteristic of conspiracy theories is the institutional distrust: the system isn't just taking our agency, it's also lying to us about it, and it's using lies to get the sheeple to keep it going. That pattern fits a large number of beliefs I would call "conspiracy theories". Do you agree?

It also fits all sorts of events at local to national and international levels that are generally accepted by people who are not labeled conspiracy theorists. I have been not responding to this thread, which is a kind of generalized ad hom, though to the ether and not any individual person, since my responses would be off topic, but I think the self-congratulatory nature of the thread would be better served if you were also making it clear why a vague term that is essentially irrational - since there are conspiracies - and I think in some ways the general evidence that what gets categorized as a conspiracy theory cannot be true is based on unfalsifiable premises. LIke, if it were true it would come out to general knowlege. There's a lot of intuition in that estimation, but further, it is not possible to find counterevidence of that.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3330
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Fri May 15, 2020 3:58 pm

WendyDarling wrote:So you don't believe the history books that Julius Caesar was murdered by means of a conspiracy?

As I said to Ecmandu, "conspiracy theory" is a compound noun: it has a meaning distinct from the parts of which it's composed. Something can be a 'theory' about a 'conspiracy' and not be a 'conspiracy theory'.

And as someone who rejects basically all of them, I see that as a meaningful category characterized by a pattern of rational failures. But as KT points out, there's a lot of intuition baked into that claim and it may break down on analysis; for someone who accepts conspiracy theories as true, or some of them, or even one of them, I can see taking the position that there's "no there there". Thus my interrogation of Ecmandu and, now, you: do you accept as true something that others label a 'conspiracy theory'? Do you reject as false something else that you or others would label a 'conspiracy theory'? Is there a there there, and, if you answered yes to the previous questions, do you distinguish the conspiracy theory you believe as not fitting the pattern, or as fitting the pattern but being an exception to the rule?

And a related question, if you do see a pattern in 'conspiracy theories', do you think that it is or relies on certain common cognitive biases or failures of reasoning?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I have been not responding to this thread, which is a kind of generalized ad hom

Against who?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:if it were true it would come out to general knowlege.

That's true, and then it wouldn't be a conspiracy theory. That doesn't mean that there aren't currently conspiracy theories that most people reject and that some people believe fervently. And, I assume, people who once believed and no longer do.
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby WendyDarling » Fri May 15, 2020 11:52 pm

Carleas, was the Roman senate involved in a conspiracy to kill Caesar as it is evidenced in our history books, meaning that conspiracies do happen in theory and fact? Answer the question, either you believe that that conspiracy in fact happened or you don't.

Also, conspiracies are supposed to remain theories never to be fleshed out with beyond a shadow of a doubt evidence as designed by the conspirators.
I AM OFFICIALLY IN HELL!

I live my philosophy, it's personal to me and people who engage where I live establish an unspoken dynamic, a relationship of sorts, with me and my philosophy.

Cutting folks for sport is a reality for the poor in spirit. I myself only cut the poor in spirit on Tues., Thurs., and every other Sat.
User avatar
WendyDarling
Heroine
 
Posts: 7695
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:52 am
Location: Hades

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Gloominary » Sat May 16, 2020 1:36 am

Do you still believe in Russiagate Peter, or have you outgrown it?
User avatar
Gloominary
Philosopher
 
Posts: 2400
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:58 am
Location: Canada

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Gloominary » Sat May 16, 2020 1:49 am

I use to believe Saddam Hussein had ties with Al Qaeda and WMDs,
Turns out he never did.
I was deep into that one, most of us were.
After that I became more skeptical of conspiracy theories my government and MSM peddle.
User avatar
Gloominary
Philosopher
 
Posts: 2400
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:58 am
Location: Canada

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Gloominary » Sat May 16, 2020 2:40 am

WendyDarling wrote:Carleas, was the Roman senate involved in a conspiracy to kill Caesar as it is evidenced in our history books, meaning that conspiracies do happen in theory and fact? Answer the question, either you believe that that conspiracy in fact happened or you don't.

Also, conspiracies are supposed to remain theories never to be fleshed out with beyond a shadow of a doubt evidence as designed by the conspirators.

Here's a more recent example of a conspiracy fact.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved one real and one falsely claimed confrontation between ships of North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005, proved that the US government lied to justify a war against Vietnam.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident
User avatar
Gloominary
Philosopher
 
Posts: 2400
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:58 am
Location: Canada

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat May 16, 2020 9:22 am

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:I have been not responding to this thread, which is a kind of generalized ad hom

Against who?
People in other threads considering or directly believing in what get called conspiracy theories. I used to be immature, irrational (like those guys in thread X or in the world in general) and whatever other adjectives were used here, but then I outgrew it.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:if it were true it would come out to general knowlege.

That's true, and then it wouldn't be a conspiracy theory. That doesn't mean that there aren't currently conspiracy theories that most people reject and that some people believe fervently. And, I assume, people who once believed and no longer do.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'that' in 'that's true.' If you mean that if a conspiracy theory were correct it would come out in general knowledge, that is precisely what I was referring to as an unfalsifiable (or as a rule confirmable) hypothesis.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3330
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby phyllo » Sat May 16, 2020 2:11 pm

As I said to Ecmandu, "conspiracy theory" is a compound noun: it has a meaning distinct from the parts of which it's composed. Something can be a 'theory' about a 'conspiracy' and not be a 'conspiracy theory'.

What sets a "conspiracy theory" apart from a "theory about a conspiracy"?

A "theory about a conspiracy" can be shown to be true or false based on some reasonable evaluation of evidence. It's abandoned when evidence against it is presented.

"Conspiracy theories" are not falsifiable.

Evidence that confirms the theory is the truth being revealed.

Evidence that undermines the theory is fabricated by the conspirators and shows the extensiveness of the conspiracy.
phyllo
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 12053
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:41 am

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Peter Kropotkin » Sat May 16, 2020 2:49 pm

Gloominary wrote:Do you still believe in Russiagate Peter, or have you outgrown it?



K: I don't know what "Russiagate is?"

Kropotkin
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security
wind up with neither."
"Ben Franklin"
Peter Kropotkin
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 8413
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:47 am
Location: blue state

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby phyllo » Sat May 16, 2020 3:03 pm

WendyDarling wrote:Carleas, was the Roman senate involved in a conspiracy to kill Caesar as it is evidenced in our history books, meaning that conspiracies do happen in theory and fact? Answer the question, either you believe that that conspiracy in fact happened or you don't.

Also, conspiracies are supposed to remain theories never to be fleshed out with beyond a shadow of a doubt evidence as designed by the conspirators.

What makes you think that there was a conspiracy to kill Caesar?

What if Caesar faked his death so that he could retire and live comfortably in Spain? Was a body double killed? Was anyone killed? Who was behind the knife thrust?

How do you know what really happened? Why do you believe one narrative and not the other narrative(s)?
phyllo
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 12053
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:41 am

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sun May 17, 2020 9:40 am

phyllo wrote:
As I said to Ecmandu, "conspiracy theory" is a compound noun: it has a meaning distinct from the parts of which it's composed. Something can be a 'theory' about a 'conspiracy' and not be a 'conspiracy theory'.

What sets a "conspiracy theory" apart from a "theory about a conspiracy"?

A "theory about a conspiracy" can be shown to be true or false based on some reasonable evaluation of evidence. It's abandoned when evidence against it is presented.

"Conspiracy theories" are not falsifiable.

Evidence that confirms the theory is the truth being revealed.

Evidence that undermines the theory is fabricated by the conspirators and shows the extensiveness of the conspiracy.
So this assumes that people with power actually take seriously the best arguments for a conspiracy AND there is no marginalization of people and ideas not fitting the mainstream. We know that what get treated as conspiracy theories SOMETIMES after a great amount of time in some cases, finally come to light. Your assumption is that they all would. That is not falsifiable. And it presumes that some group of scientists and detectives are sifting through the evidence with great resources with no bias.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3330
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Mon May 18, 2020 2:53 pm

WendyDarling wrote:Answer the question, either you believe that that conspiracy in fact happened or you don't.

I don't know much Roman history, and I don't have a strong belief either way about the assassination. Wikipedia says more 60 senators were involved, but I don't know what sources they use to arrive at that. I have no idea what percent of the Roman senate that comprises, or what percent would pass the threshold to say that "the Roman senate [was] involved in a conspiracy to kill Caesar".

But my wife and I conspired to throw my daughter a birthday party, so there you have a conspiracy I believe in. Please feel free to use that fact as a premise in some explicit argument (taking into account that a 'conspiracy theory' is distinct from a theory about a conspiracy).

WendyDarling wrote:Also, conspiracies are supposed to remain theories never to be fleshed out with beyond a shadow of a doubt evidence as designed by the conspirators.

My wife and I intended for our conspiracy to throw our kid a birthday party to be discovered on the day of the party. Perhaps you are talking about a different kind of conspiracy?

Gloominary wrote:After that I became more skeptical of conspiracy theories my government and MSM peddle.

This is an interesting turn. I would describe this as a loss of faith in a particular 'conspiracy theory' that pushed you further toward what I have been calling 'conspiracy thinking'. That's not to say that it's necessarily irrational or unjustified, but unexpected for me.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:People in other threads considering or directly believing in what get called conspiracy theories.

Yes, I think those people are wrong. That isn't an ad hominem argument. You'll note that I didn't use the words "immature" or "irrational". Indeed, I have entertained the possibility that it's my shift in belief that is irrational (or at least first-order irrational, driven by unconscious second-order reasons).

Feeling personally attacked when someone criticizes your beliefs or talks about the possibility that they could be wrong or that other may have been convinced that they are wrong, does not make those criticisms or discussions ad hominem.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:If you mean that if a conspiracy theory were correct it would come out in general knowledge, that is precisely what I was referring to as an unfalsifiable (or as a rule confirmable) hypothesis.

I think that I was imprecise. What shifts something from a conspiracy theory to general knowledge is that the conspiracy theory is shown to be correct, by the accumulation and exposition of reliable evidence. Gloominary provides a good example of this with the Gulf of Tonkin example. If, prior to the release of the Pentagon Papers, someone believed based on the publicly available information that there was a government conspiracy to defraud the public in order to get us into a war, it would have been a conspiracy theory, in part because we didn't have very good reason to believe that. When the Pentagon Papers came out and we suddenly did have good reason, it becomes general knowledge and not a conspiracy theory.

I do think this reveals a weakness in my position: it's a a no-true-scotsman argument, where belief on bad evidence is part of what defines a conspiracy theory, and so conspiracy theories are by definition not support by evidence. I think this is the same "unfalsifiability" you have pointed out.

But then isn't any cognitive bias susceptible to the same reply? Suppose some recognized cognitive bias leads us to conclude that X is the case 80% of the time, when it's actually only the case 10% of the time. It's still legitimate then to say that it is the cognitive bias that led us to believe that X is the case, and yet it is also true that X is the case.

So too can something be a conspiracy theory, and someone's belief in the conspiracy theory be attributable to unreliable conspiracy thinking, and yet the set of facts alleged in the conspiracy theory may be true, and upon being supported by more reliable evidence, would become general knowledge.
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Mon May 18, 2020 3:29 pm

Carleas wrote:Yes, I think those people are wrong. That isn't an ad hominem argument. You'll note that I didn't use the words "immature" or "irrational". Indeed, I have entertained the possibility that it's my shift in belief that is irrational (or at least first-order irrational, driven by unconscious second-order reasons).
It's implicit even in your OP. A loss of faith. This presumes that the conclusions are faith based. IOW even though they mount arguments, really they did not reason, underneath this they actually just made a leap of faith. You didn't say, in the OP, that 'these people are wrong', you framed their belief as faith based. Though other posters whose responses you took as fitting the OP, went even more clearly into ad hom territory.

As far as immature and irrational, well look through the quotes below and see if what is happening is not fairly framed as calling the people you (plural) are immature and irrational, including the presumption of faith as the cause of conclusions.

a conspiracy theory is easy to hold when one is a child because it seems to,
just seems to explain some of the mysteries I we see as children.....


Peter K:
Though, oddly, it should be noted that Peter K is a conspiracy theorist, despite his blanket criticism of other conspiracy theorists, since he believes in a UFO coverup. Or perhaps I missed the 'this is joking' cues.

Then you:
But I get the impression that full on conspiracy thinking rewrites ontology in such a way that it makes being convinced otherwise very difficult. Maybe that's not such an issue in childhood, when your ontology is still in flux?


More diagnosis from Peter....
K: I lost my faith in conspiracy theories once I grew up... I no longer needed them to make sense of the
world...conspiracy theories are a means of understanding the world and placing oneself within that
world... quite often those who believe, will call other who don't believe, as being naïve...
which is a way of saying those who believe are not naïve. it is a means of justifying one
place in the universe..... for example, let us say, I hold pretensions as to being a genius
or someone who could run a corporation or company... but the reality is, I am a low level
hack... I can justify my position by holding to conspiracy theories about the Jews for example....


in fact the whole post continues in a generalized diagnosis vein....
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=195700#p2766050

Back to you:
The way you're describing it, conspiracy thinking might be rational towards a different end: as protective of a person's sense of self or worth, or a form of learned helplessness that dampers risk taking. Adaptivity must be a primary function of belief formation; accuracy is only instrumentally valuable. Goddamn that's depressing

Now, note. You haven't done the whole ad hom argument. Where you say that the other person's arguments are wrong because they are (psychological trait or tendency or...]. But it's how it functions in the forum. There are threads where people disagree over what might be conspiracies and now a thread is opened by skeptics diagnosing and claiming knowledge of the people who get called conspiracy theorists in general. Imagine a a social gathering like that, with one group, in the hearing of another, and third parties, saying, some even just as facts, others like you more exploratorily the psychology of the people they disagree with. Perhaps sometimes moving back to the discussions where arguments are made for and against conspiracy theories.

You again:
Bob, it sounds like you experienced the change as simply being susceptible to reason. I think I experience it that way too, and it's blinkered me to the possibility that other people aren't similarly susceptible to reason.


Feeling personally attacked when someone criticizes your beliefs or talks about the possibility that they could be wrong or that other may have been convinced that they are wrong, does not make those criticisms or discussions ad hominem.
Sure, though this is irrelevent. This thread doesn't mount any arguements of critique the beliefs, it is specifically about diagnosing the psychology of the people you and Peter et al disagree with.

In threads we have disagreed about potential conspiracies, I don't think I accused you of ad homs. I think we made points on the issues. It is this thread I am talking about. In fact, I find this confusion on your part rather odd.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:If you mean that if a conspiracy theory were correct it would come out in general knowledge, that is precisely what I was referring to as an unfalsifiable (or as a rule confirmable) hypothesis.

I think that I was imprecise. What shifts something from a conspiracy theory to general knowledge is that the conspiracy theory is shown to be correct, by the accumulation and exposition of reliable evidence. Gloominary provides a good example of this with the Gulf of Tonkin example. If, prior to the release of the Pentagon Papers, someone believed based on the publicly available information that there was a government conspiracy to defraud the public in order to get us into a war, it would have been a conspiracy theory, in part because we didn't have very good reason to believe that.
I am sure a bunch of people did have good reasons. And others had extremely good reasons to investigate. But the general response is to shut that down.

I do think this reveals a weakness in my position: it's a a no-true-scotsman argument, where belief on bad evidence is part of what defines a conspiracy theory, and so conspiracy theories are by definition not support by evidence. I think this is the same "unfalsifiability" you have pointed out.
I think that's a bit different. I do see the no true scotsman, but that seems different from the assertion that if isn't accepted it isn't true. Also that if it is not accepted then no one has good reasons to believe it. This presumes that any true theory will be confirmed. I think that is unfalsifiable. I think it also includes a lot of not demonstrated assumptions about society's openness to all ideas, regardless of how uncomfortable.

So too can something be a conspiracy theory, and someone's belief in the conspiracy theory be attributable to unreliable conspiracy thinking, and yet the set of facts alleged in the conspiracy theory may be true, and upon being supported by more reliable evidence, would become general knowledge.
Or not. I think it is a presumption to assume that truth wins out, period.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3330
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: Losing Faith in Conspiracy Thinking

Postby Carleas » Mon May 18, 2020 7:31 pm

KT, there's a distinction between the rational justification of a belief and the causal explanation for a belief. We have to be able to talk about the latter. The OP asks about how people changed their minds, i.e. causal explanations for a change in belief. A legitimate and reasonable response to that question is "I experienced brain damage" or "I got that brain damage fixed". You can all that ad hominem if you want, I don't think it fits any useful definition of that term. In any case it doesn't undermine anything I've said here. My goal here is not to make a general argument against conspiracy theories.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I do see the no true scotsman, but that seems different from the assertion that if isn't accepted it isn't true. Also that if it is not accepted then no one has good reasons to believe it. This presumes that any true theory will be confirmed. I think that is unfalsifiable. I think it also includes a lot of not demonstrated assumptions about society's openness to all ideas, regardless of how uncomfortable.

I do not mean to assert any of those. Let me try to be yet more precise.

First, instead of "general knowledge", I'm going to say "a theory about a conspiracy". I make this change because 1) the facts alleged in a conspiracy can be true, and 2) the facts alleged in a theory about a conspiracy can be false. Contrasting conspiracy theory against knowledge misses the important qualities of a conspiracy theory.

Given that, I'll say that a 'conspiracy theory' becomes a 'theory about a conspiracy' when the evidence about the fact claims at issue are supported by evidence sufficient to make their truth likely. They may in fact be either true or false, and they may even be more likely to be false than true, so long as their truth is supported by the available evidence.

That's a very vague standard when worded precisely, and that's OK. There are borderline cases, and that's OK. But the fact that something changes from 'conspiracy theory' to not-a-conspiracy-theory with the introduction of evidence does not make the initial claim unfalsifiable: it can be falsified by looking at the evidence.
User Control Panel > Board preference > Edit display options > Display signatures: No.
Carleas
Magister Ludi
 
Posts: 6107
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:10 pm
Location: Washington DC, USA

Next

Return to The Sandbox



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users