Slashdot reports that a Fox "documentary" last week argued that we never
went to the moon. First the alien autopsy, now this. Does Murdoch just
like to play with people? Or has he slipped into his own Howard Hughes
world, collecting conspiracies instead of urine samples?
I'm including below my own response to a post on this.
"I'm slowly learning to just live [with] stuff like this. ... [T]he best way to teach people the world was round was not mass re-education, but by showing them... The ignorance will just go away on its own" --bjtuna
I disagree. The conspiratorial mind can refute any set of facts and explanatory theories, because the conspiratorial mind does not use tools of critical thinking (e.g., Occam's Razor). Rather the reverse; it adds conspiracy on top of conspiracy to patch together a spaghetti-code interpretation of the world.
Conspiracy theorists did this after Greek geometers offered proofs that the world is round. And I expect they did it for years after Columbus' trips, too. There is no natural law guaranteeing people will eventually choose to be rational. The challenge needs to be met head on with every generation, because there are psychological benefits to believing what you already know, or what seems natural (flat earth), or what seems exciting ("Columbus faked his trips!").
You cannot beat conspiracy theorists only by presenting the facts! You need to teach people critical thinking skills, logic, and enough background so that they can spot flaws for themselves.
For example, whenever someone cc's me on an urban legend email, I mail them back (after some research) and try to do a bit of education on why the story is implausible, and point them to a resource like snopes.com. People have told me I've helped them become better at spotting fake stories.
So when you write that "the ignorance will just go away on its own", my thoughts are: 1. You're very optimistic, or else you're content with a much longer time scale than I am. 2. The fact that you've given up means the rest of us have to work harder.
I agree with you it can be frustrating to deal with these situations. But helping people to think more clearly not only gives them freedom from illogic and the agendas of others, but to the extent that it removes bogus memes from dominating the culture, it gives me more freedom, too. I think it's one of the most important jobs we can do as modern people.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:17:51 PDT