Monday, August 15, 2016

Conspiracy Theory Debunking 101

There are those who think I just don't believe what I don't like to or agree with, with no thought to reality. That conservative and republican disseminated conspiracy theories are never true, regardless. This couldn't be further from the truth. There are big conspiracies and many small ones, especially during election cycles. This 2016 election has been rife with them.

It may seem that I never ascribe to right wing conspiracies. But it is because there are so many circulated by those groups and frequently one has to (should) admit, they are ridiculous. In fact, all too frequently.

IF you know a just little bit about actual conspiracy theory itself, you'll see that quite clearly. You'll see what not to waste your time on. What not to say, leading others into making horrendous political mistakes. And who to ignore. There is much as one author put it, voodoo behind these conspiracy theories.

There are far better articles on conspiracy theory and how to consider them, evaluate them, debunk and verify them, and how to help those lost down that rabbit hole. I just doubt most people would go that far to find out. So I thought I'd make a quick and easy to understand, overview. Not a step by step, but a how to look at it in general and to consider finding more specific information depending on the form of the conspiracy involved.

IF you know Hillary is murdering people left and right just like her husband did as president, if you know Benghazi is Hillary and Obama's fault, if you know that Obama is a secret Muslim, Gay, or founder of ISIS, then you really have to ask your self this....

Do you know for instance, that the Trump campaign is having an actual effect upon our nation's children? Belief in the negative side magical thinking as in religions, and non-existent conspiracies do have a real impact upon culture, business, government and most importantly, people.

Do you know anything about what makes conspiracy theories seem true, or attractive? Even when they ARE fully fabricated?

What is Optimality Theory actually about? Or critical thinking? Cognitive Dissonance? Other conspiracy theory terms and definitions? Do you know just what government, legislative, political and congressional processes actually are, how they work in reality? Do you understand market organization and optimization on conspiracies? How information deforms and conforms in an information vacuum? How belief in conspiracies conflates one sense of self worth? How it satiates need in areas of closure, self esteem, fear?


Look, I will just offer you this. It's up to you to learn the rest, or else stop spouting conspiracies in your ignorance. And on ignorance, we are all ignorant. It is beholden upon us to find accurate information and to know that many times, especially in politics, there will never be enough information to make informed decisions on. It then takes one to have a clear and present understanding of peripheral issues and people. Clear of prejudice, or at least of undeserved prejudice.

Above is a meme slamming Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton yet again. Sounds bad. But when you consider actual reality, a different picture begins to emerge. You can refer to this link to read actually happened during his testimony, so you can judge for yourself. Along with (and without) the republican interference and spin during the testimony. In the article supplied in the link you can clearly see where Mr. Hicks obviously noticed himself during testimony that his words were being twisted by Republicans for political and partisan reasons.

"Daniel Pipes, in an early essay "adapted from a study prepared for the CIA", attempted to define which beliefs distinguish 'the conspiracy mentality' from 'more conventional patterns of thought'. He defined them as: appearances deceive; conspiracies drive history; nothing is haphazard; the enemy always gains power, fame, money, and sex.[7]
One of the worst things about conspiracy theories is the fact they are almost airtight. Every debunking or piece of evidence against it will be viewed as an attempt to "misinform the public", and the lack of evidence for it is viewed as a government cover-up.
The flood of conspiracy theories results in possibly-rational conspiracy theories getting lost in the midst of the noise of newsworthy but disingenuous ideas such as New World Order or the Moon landing hoax.
Not everyone involved in a conspiracy necessarily knows all the details; in fact, sometimes none do." - Wikipedia

Let's take the example of assassinations in a recent meme. Obviously if this were a single murder we were talking about, one would have to handle it differently. But we're not. And no, you cannot take the procedure for a single murder and apply it outright to the methodology of a multiple murder or assassination conspiracy theory. It is in details such as that where conspiracist's analytical processes break down.

This has been going around. It's been adding "victims", as someone new dies they get added to the list. We're up to four now in how many have died because of the DNC or Hillary's reputation and therefore, the inference is that she or the DNC had them killed. Even though the meme does not mention Hillary, in many conservative minds, it is clearly her at work here. At very least, it is on her behest if not covert direction because hey, who can know, right?

Then someone added another meme into this one:

But who exactly would order that? And why? Especially when there is no real and clear motive, but it simply looks superficially, that there may be one?

The insidious thing about these conspiracies is the believer and proponent never needs truth, proof, or facts. Just, belief. Easy. Right?

A confluence of facts (or perceived facts), a motive, possibly resources to achieve said conspiracy and the desire of one or more to believe.

For a murder as in this case it legally requires willfulness, deliberation and premeditation.

But here's the thing in assassination conspiracies and the reality of this type of operation. It presupposes vast forces behind the scenes that are alluded to by the believer. It gives more credit than deserved to involved entities. It requires a vacuum of facts for support filled instead by factoids.

Conspiracies involving multiple murders.

It is a big mistake to murder for political reasons. The United States has stopped doing it decades ago in the 1960s and for good reasons. It tends to come out eventually. It tends not infrequently to have a degree of blow back that makes it not worth it in the end and for an intelligent person, not worth it in the beginning.

In the case above, one murder in a murder conspiracy is a wash. Without actual proof, and if there were someone would be in jail, you cannot definitively state someone killed someone. So we get to throw out at least one as reasonably not involved in a conspiracy. 

Two deaths is still not quite a coincidence, nor is it not a coincidence. So we can effectively throw out two murders, or in some cases, simply deaths. IF one is not an obvious murder you cannot just randomly assign it as a murder. Yes, someone could fake a death, murder by fake natural causes, accident or suicide. But this is the realm of conjecture.

Would you believe these things if at the end of your decision, if you were wrong, you would be shot in the head? Or would you apply more critical thought, more awareness of conspiracy theory itself?

Three deaths (or murders) begins to enter the realm of ending the potential for coincidence and four, pretty much is ending that completely. If all elements necessary are apparent. 

However. That is if you have the connection (in this case, to the DNC or Hillary), the motive (someone attacking or damaging the DNC, Hillary or in Hillary's case sometimes conspiracists will just say someone made her upset or angry), and the access and resources (either the perpetrator murdering someone directly, or assigning someone to take on the task. 

This is where you have to start looking into each individual case, understanding that you already have the potential connections between Hillary and a need for these people to die. Does she actually have a need for someone to die and does the gain outweigh the cost if discovered?

The United States decided as mentioned above, many years ago that assassination is just flat out, not cost effective considering political and other blow back over time.

So. If we start to look at each individual death, what do we find? 

The supplied meme above related to the DNC, the Democratic National Convention. But in many minds it is directly connected to Hillary Clinton. Point one. Points two through five are as follows:

Seth Conrad Rich, murdered. Snopes. And the family has asked that people just STOP.
John Ashe, died suspiciously. Snopes. "WHAT'S FALSE: Ashe's corruption trial wasn't set to begin just days after his death, and he wasn't going to testify against Hillary Clinton."
Victor Thorn, dead of gunshot wound. Snopes.
Shawn Lucas. Died of unknown causes pending autopsy. Snopes. No one is going to have a process server murdered, literally murdering the messenger. Thinking otherwise is ludicrous.

With even a cursory examination of the meme, it falls quickly apart and not even coincidence in many ways and just a mean spirited attempt at disinformation.

We see the same in so many right wing attacks against the left, against President Obama, against Hillary Clinton, and soon to be against whomever follows.

The answer to these things is rather than blinding sharing them, furthering the ignorance, further damaging not just enemies of someone, but the country at large, further polarizing the nation, but to look into these. First never verify by going only into similar reporting sources. Look first at the opposite sources. Find what they say. If they are logical, look further into it. Then go back to the same sources (right wing most likely). Are they are saying the same thing, as if from one source, as if the same illogical orientations?

The answer it to think. To trace logic and see where it breaks down. Consider the source, always. If it's right wing, it doesn't mean it's wrong, but it does mean it most likely has "spin" on it. They MAY give accurate facts but not always. They will supply an orientation, shading the facts, making things look as bad as possible for someone. Rather that just supply the truth in neutral words and let the facts work for them. But they so often do not work for them and so they have to spin it, or lie outright.

Cut away the spin, look at the facts. Are there enough facts available? Typically there are not and like a Donald Trump speech, you have to read (whatever you like) into it. Where do the facts came from? Is there a vested interest by the reporter or agency reporting in making someone look as bad as possible? Does the source have an interest in them looking bad? Does the negativity feed into your own personal dislikes and beliefs?

That doesn't make it wrong, it means you may have some cognitive dissonance going on. The more that it true the more you need a warning light going off to double and triple check, to find actual facts and see through the spin or falsehoods, if any.

Be careful. Find the truth. Then, SHARE that. Even if most importantly, it goes against what others believe and wish to believe. Our country has problems. We're only going to fix them by forcing those sharing lies to share truths, or to take matters into our own hands and share the truth ourselves. At whatever cost.

Whether we like those truths or not.

Just don't do what Julian Assange has been doing in with Wikileaks in politically staging and releasing "truths" at just the right moment in order to do as much damage as possible. Because that crosses over form reporting, to political manipulation.

We need to all start being honest and truthful in the best ways possible, in order to support our nation so that it can shine to the world in the best light it can be seen in.

In closing...and in taking as example the conservative hatred for Hillary and Clinton's in general:

There is another side to all this. If Hillary Clinton is such a genius as conservatives claim, able to get away for decades with multiple murders, apparently hundreds of crimes and so on, and the US (and others remember) government, who better to run the complexities of a country and a world.

Bush? LOL. Trump? LMFAO! Be serious.

There is apparently no one that smart in the entire world. Oh, except for a Clinton. Of course.

Truth is, no one would cover things up that much for anyone, certainly not the masses of cover ups, and all the people it would take to do all the things she is blamed for. And to maintain that secrecy, for decades.

It's inherent in conspiracy theory to ignore that.

While it is actually is rather ludicrous. And sad. But let's face it. Reality cannot change belief based in  pure conjecture and magical thinking (especially for those raised in a religious fashion, even if they are now self-proclaimed atheists).

As well as decades of a concerted conservative effort to slander, which is not conjecture. Which is well documented. Which is admitted to openly to by the right. And so, there it is.

Conservatives are now merely believing because they were told to and cannot now change course and  thereby, "lose face".

Truly my friends, my condolences.

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