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Fnord
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08 Feb 2021, 5:23 pm

Here is the short list of resources for skeptics and anyone else who wants to fact-check someone's claims before countering those claims.  They are also useful for checking one's own beliefs before posting them.

• Check Your Fact Website

• Cult News Network

• Encyclopedia of American Loons

• Factcheck Website 

• Media Bias / Fact Check

• Mythbusters Website 

• Politifact Website 

• Skeptic Website 

• Snopes Website 

• Truth or Fiction Website 

• Anti-Defamation League [/color]

... and ...

• Wikipedia's List of Common Misconceptions  (Each entry is worded as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated. These entries are concise summaries of the main subject articles, which can be consulted for more detail.)


Please PM any suggestions for inclusion.



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04 Jun 2021, 8:47 am

How to Spot a Conspiracy Theory


Before the January 6th coup attempt, before covid, and even before the Trump administration, Scientific American published an article outlining the signs that what you hear or read is a conspiracy theory.  And while it is true that SOME conspiracy theories have turned out to be valid, the majority of conspiracy theories are pure crap.

We should look for signs that indicate a conspiracy theory is likely to be untrue.  The more that it manifests the following characteristics, the less probable that the theory is grounded in reality, which means that this is NOT an "All or Nothing" list -- actually, as more of these signs become apparent, the more likely it is that what you are being brainwashed into believing is actually a false conspiracy theory.

  1. Proof of the conspiracy supposedly emerges from a pattern of "connecting the dots" with a web of assumptions and "What If" statements between events that need not be causally connected.  When no evidence supports these connections except the allegation of the conspiracy or when the evidence fits equally well to other causal connections -- or to randomness -- the conspiracy theory is likely to be false.

  2. The agents behind the pattern of the conspiracy would need nearly superhuman power to pull it off.  People are usually not nearly so powerful as we think they are.

  3. The conspiracy is complex, and its successful completion demands a large number of elements.

  4. Similarly, the conspiracy involves large numbers of people who would all need to keep silent about their secrets.  The more people involved, the less realistic it becomes.

  5. The conspiracy encompasses a grand ambition for control over a nation, economy or political system.  If it suggests world domination, the theory is even less likely to be true.

  6. The conspiracy theory ratchets up from small events that might be true to much larger, much less probable events.

  7. The conspiracy theory assigns portentous, sinister meanings to what are most likely innocuous, insignificant events.

  8. The theory tends to commingle facts and speculations without distinguishing between the two and without assigning degrees of probability or of factuality.

  9. The theorist is indiscriminately suspicious of all government agencies or private groups, which suggests an inability to nuance differences between true and false conspiracies.

10. The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations, rejecting all disconfirming evidence and blatantly seeking only confirmatory evidence to support what he or she has a priori determined to be the truth.


The fact that politicians sometimes lie or that corporations occasionally cheat does not mean that every event is the result of a tortuous conspiracy.  Most of the time stuff just happens, and our brains connect the dots into meaningful patterns -- a process called pareidolia.


Source:
 This Scientific American Article 


_________________
 
• Veritas Illuminata • Semper Illuminans •


Fnord
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03 Sep 2021, 12:20 pm

The 9/11 conspiracy theories have been thoroughly debunked, so if you doubt the official story of 9/11, or if you know someone who does, then check out one or more of these resources.

9/11 Commission Final Report

Conspiracy Theories and the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks

Debunking 9/11 Bomb Theories

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts
(NOTE: This link leads to the Amazon website, which is offering the book for sale.)

The Biggest 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Debunked

Reports of the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster
(NOTE: This link leads to an archive of multiple links, each of which leads to a different report.)

Seven Books Worth Reading About 9/11 and Its Aftermath
(Note: This link leads to a list of books that are for sale.)



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22 Mar 2022, 11:27 am

9 Philosophical "Razors" You Should Know

Duck Test: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. The duck test is about abductive reasoning and drawing the most likely conclusion given the evidence, instead of denying the obvious. It is sometimes used to counter arguments that someone or something is not what they appear to be.

Grice's Razor: Address what the speaker meant, instead of addressing the literal meaning of what they said. Do not take everything someone says literally and get into silly arguments over semantics, and the most minute, insignificant of details, whilst completely missing the main point of the speaker. Instead listen carefully and look to where the finger is pointing.

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence or stupidity. if someone acts in a way that affects you negatively, it is not necessarily because they have bad intentions towards you, or mean you harm, more likely (depending on the person and the situation) they are simply careless, do not know any better, incompetent, stupid, unaware of how they are affecting you, or some combination thereof.

Hitchens' Razor: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. If someone is going to assert something without evidence, especially an extraordinary claim that demands evidence, you can dismiss it without evidence. This is because the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim, not the other way around.

Hume's Razor: Causes must be sufficiently able to produce the effect assigned to them. Causes must be sufficiently able to produce the effect assigned to them. If a proposed cause is not sufficiently able to produce the observed effect, we must either eliminate the cause from consideration, and come up with another hypothesis, or show what needs to be added to the cause to create the effect.

Newton's Flaming Laser Sword: If something cannot be settled by experiment, it is not worth debating. Pure reasoning alone is insufficient to solve many important problems. You should generally only focus on problems that can be solved by a combination of experimentation and reasoning, and not just argumentation, and if it is possible to perform an experiment to settle a matter you should.

Occam's Razor: Entities should not be multiplied without necessity. Occam's razor is a problem-solving principle that states that when you are presented with multiple competing hypothesis for a phenomenon, or explanations for an event, you should start by selecting the simplest and most likely one, the one that makes the fewest assumptions.

Popper's Falsifiability Principle: For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be possible to disprove or refute it. Hypothesis that are impossible to disprove, refute or test are unfalsifiable, and are therefore not scientific. If someone makes a claim that is unfalsifiable and cannot be tested, proven or disproven, verified or falsified, it is probably best to dismiss it instead of speculating and taking it seriously.

Sagan's Standard: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If someone claims that they, or their guru/religious/spiritual teacher, can contact the dead, see the future, read minds, cure or heal any disease or sickness including AIDS or cancer, talk directly with God (and have God talk back unambiguously), perform miracles, or that they have supernatural powers of any kind, than these are extraordinary claims, and they must be backed up by extraordinary evidence such as a live demonstration to prove it.