Why Conspiracy Theories DEMAND Understanding!

๐ˆ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐’๐š๐ง๐๐ฒ ๐‡๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐„๐ฅ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฅ ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐. โณ

I remember watching the news coverage, the feelings of horror, the shock among the country that such an event happened. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I even remember the news wrongfully attributing the killerโ€™s potential motive to his diagnosis of autism. โŒ

It wasnโ€™t easy for many people to comprehend. Who would want to let the feeling sink in that someone was actually capable of committing such horror on innocent lives? ๐Ÿ˜ซ

“๐‘พ๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’Š๐’• ๐’”๐’–๐’„๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’•?! ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’ ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’?!”

It was around the same time this event happened that I was browsing YouTube one day and noticed a popular video trending on their home page. The video was over a half hour in length, a video I would not normally take the time to watch. ๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ

But the title of the video caught my attention: โ€œSANDY HOOK EXPOSEDโ€. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I clicked on itโ€ฆand for the next half hour I was entranced watching the entire video! ๐Ÿ˜ต

๐ˆ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐’๐š๐ง๐๐ฒ ๐‡๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐. ๐๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

I remember watching the lengthy YouTube video and being shown a bunch of chopped-up news clips. I remember the video’s sound being muted, the subtitles of the video feeding me various questions and answers ๐Ÿ’ญ:

โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’Š๐’” ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’†!โ€ โ€œ๐‘บ๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’˜๐’“๐’๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†!โ€

I remember watching a clip which showed a father whose daughter was killed in Sandy Hook seemingly go from smiling to crying in seconds. Again, the subtitles were ready to tell me what to think: โ€œ๐‘จ ๐’๐’๐’“๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’๐’ ๐’…๐’๐’†๐’”๐’โ€™๐’• ๐’…๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”!โ€ โ€œ๐‘ฐ๐’” ๐’‰๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ?!โ€ ๐Ÿ’ญ

I remember another clip which showed the mother of the daughter, but she was smiling and saying words you couldnโ€™t hear because the audio was muted. Again, the subtitles were ready to tell me what to think: โ€œ๐‘ฏ๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’”๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’š ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’”?!โ€ โ€œ๐‘บ๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’” ๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’˜๐’“๐’๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†!โ€ ๐Ÿ’ญ

I also remember the shocking realization I felt watching the video. There was this excitement, this sense of thrill within me that I was learning something the general public was not aware of. Only me and other viewers of this YouTube video were now privy to this private information! ๐Ÿ“š

The video brought me to the conclusion it wanted me to come to: that Sandy Hook never happened, that it was a hoax. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

…Looking back on this memory in hindsight, Iโ€™m glad I watched the video.

โš ๏ธ ๐๐Ž, ๐’๐€๐๐ƒ๐˜ ๐‡๐Ž๐Ž๐Š ๐–๐€๐’ ๐๐Ž๐“ ๐€ ๐‡๐Ž๐€๐—! โš ๏ธ

But watching this video helped me learn a valuable lesson early on in my life about how alluring conspiracy theories can be, how attractive they are on the surface, yet how hollow the cynicism lays underneath them. ๐Ÿ˜ 

Thankfully, at the time I watched this video I had enough skepticism to get additional perspectives on the videoโ€™s claims.

I quickly learned there was a TON of misinformation in the video. (For information on the video, you can refer to the Snopes article here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sandy-hook-exposed/ )

๐Ÿ“Œ The father who went from crying to smiling? There could be any number of reasons why that happened. ๐‘จ ๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’† ๐’„๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’Š๐’‚๐’ ๐’†๐’™๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’Š๐’” ๐’๐’๐’• โ€œ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’๐’‡โ€ ๐’‰๐’†โ€™๐’” ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†โ€™๐’” ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’…๐’Š๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’.

๐Ÿ“Œ That mother who was smiling in the muted video clip? If you got to hear the video clip unmuted, youโ€™d quickly understand she was smiling because she was sharing positive memories about her daughter. ๐‘ฐ๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’๐’‚๐’™ ๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’ ๐’๐’†๐’‡๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’–๐’…๐’Š๐’ ๐’Š๐’, ๐’š๐’๐’–โ€™๐’… ๐’†๐’‚๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’š ๐’”๐’†๐’† ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’˜๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’๐’†๐’….

๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ โ€œ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ญ๐กโ€ ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ž๐จ ๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž. ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ ๐š ๐œ๐ฒ๐ง๐ข๐œ๐š๐ฅ ๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐›๐š๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐จ๐ง ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ, ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ซ๐ฒ-๐ฉ๐ข๐œ๐ค๐ž๐ ๐๐ž๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ฅ๐ฌ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐จ๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ฅ๐š๐ข๐ฆ๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐š๐๐ž ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ง๐จ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐ฎ๐ฉ. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

๐–๐‡๐€๐“ ๐ˆ๐’ ๐€ ๐‚๐Ž๐๐’๐๐ˆ๐‘๐€๐‚๐˜ ๐“๐‡๐„๐Ž๐‘๐˜?!

We can use Merriam-Websterโ€™s definition: โ€œA theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

We can also use Britannicaโ€™s definition: โ€œAn attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small, powerful group.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

Letโ€™s also add in Dictionary.comโ€™s definition: โ€œA theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert group or organization with carrying out a secret plot.โ€ ๐Ÿ“–

The reason I wanted to give you all these definitions is thereโ€™s also a conspiracy theory online that the CIA created the term โ€œconspiracy theoryโ€ to silence people during the JFK assassination. This is False. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

(Source: https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/03/16/did-the-cia-invent-the-term-conspiracy-theory/ )

Even more, thereโ€™s a conspiracy theory that the source Iโ€™ve been citing above, Snopes, has a โ€œleftist propaganda political agendaโ€. This is again False. ๐Ÿ‘Ž

(Sources: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/jun/19/viral-image/no-factcheckorg-didnt-bust-snopescom/

Snopes

https://www.allsides.com/news-source/snopes )

If youโ€™re starting to notice a pattern, the problem is that ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  can be made into a conspiracy theory. The fact I’m even discussing it right now makes me susceptible to someone accusing me of being a โ€œshillโ€ or a โ€œsheepโ€. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

If you share contrasting information with a conspiracy theorist, they can easily dismiss it as just being part of the conspiracy. They can claim every fact-checking source I cited above as โ€œfake newsโ€ simply because it doesnโ€™t fit with their worldview. โŒ

๐Ÿคฌ โ€œ๐˜๐Ž๐”โ€™๐‘๐„ ๐’๐Ž ๐‚๐Ž๐๐ƒ๐„๐’๐‚๐„๐๐ƒ๐ˆ๐๐†, ๐ƒ๐Ž๐๐€๐‹๐ƒ! ๐˜๐Ž๐” ๐€๐‚๐“ ๐‹๐ˆ๐Š๐„ ๐‚๐Ž๐๐’๐๐ˆ๐‘๐€๐‚๐ˆ๐„๐’ ๐ƒ๐Ž๐โ€™๐“ ๐„๐—๐ˆ๐’๐“!โ€ ๐Ÿคฌ

Let me clarify: ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ% ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ ๐›๐ž๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ๐ž! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about Project SUNSHINE in 1956, where the United States Atomic Energy Commission wanted to measure the long-term effects of nuclear radiation on the body. The way they did this included collecting tissue from deceased childrenโ€™s bodies without permission from grieving families.

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about Prohibition in the 1920s, where the federal government pressured manufacturers to add poisonous substances to their alcohol to make it undrinkable. Unfortunately this did not stop people, and it is estimated thousands died from drinking this tainted alcohol.

๐Ÿ“ I could tell you about MKULTRA, a CIA-sponsored program which started in the 50s and ended in the 70s, where experiments were done on human test subjects including the use of LSD, hypnosis, and electric shocks to develop methods the government could use for future interrogations.

All of these happened! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Itโ€™s not that I donโ€™t believe conspiracies have never happened or that I believe world governments have never done anything shady before. They have! And thereโ€™s a lot of classified information we as the general public will never be aware of. ๐Ÿ‘

Citing the incidents above, itโ€™s very reasonable for a person to start feeling cynical towards the government or people in authority. They’re the ones we’re supposed to place our trust in, yet knowing these past wrongs makes it a lot harder to, right? ๐Ÿ‘

The difference with my perspective is ๐ˆโ€™๐ฆ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฉ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐œ ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž-๐œ๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ญ. ๐ˆโ€™๐ฆ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฌ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฐ ๐จ๐œ๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ซ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ข๐ง ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ. ๐Ÿ‘ฎ

Itโ€™s important to remember when we demonize โ€œthe governmentโ€ weโ€™re also referring to thousands of people, from the postal service to the armed forces to Congress, each with their own separate positions and functions, each with their own families and set of values, each of them living their own individual lives. ๐Ÿ‘ช

Itโ€™s this very problem of overgeneralizing I even have to remember myself! I’m guilty of it too! ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

I’m aware I have a habit of criticizing what I often call โ€œthe mediaโ€. I need to continue to remind myself it’s not a singular entity, that it consists of thousands of news outlets and thousands of individual people with different intentions and agendas. ๐Ÿ“ฐ

It would be foolish of me to assume the negative actions of 1 or 2 journalists was a reflection of the entire field of journalism, right?! ๐Ÿ˜…

My point is: donโ€™t let your obsession over a few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. Or as I always say: ๐ƒ๐จ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐š๐›๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐š๐ญ๐ก๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ. ๐Ÿ‘ถ

The other day I watched the Netflix documentary โ€œBehind the Curveโ€ about Flat Earthers, people who believe the world is flat and that this truth is being covered up by NASA. ๐Ÿš€

I think for many of my friends youโ€™ll be quick to laugh even hearing that such a community exists. But I actually did take a valuable lesson watching the film, and Iโ€™ll tell you whatโ€ฆโฌ‡๏ธ

Sure, the Flat Earther arguments lack critical thinking. Sure, itโ€™s very easy to disprove their claims with less than five minutes of research online. Funny enough, the Flat Earthers even disprove themselves after they conduct a science experiment in the documentary! ๐Ÿ˜…

But putting all that aside, there is one valuable lesson I took away from the film: ridicule of Flat Earthers is NOT a helpful solution! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

In fact, telling someone theyโ€™re wrong can cause them to dig their feet deeper into their beliefs. Showing them contradictory evidence can strengthen their affinity for their beliefs. It is what’s known as the Backfire Effect. โ†”๏ธ

My point is: we need to apply this same understanding with the people around us. ๐ŸŒŽ

๐ˆ๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ˆ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐š๐›๐›๐ข๐ญ ๐ก๐จ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฆ๐ฒ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ˆ ๐š๐ซ๐ ๐ฎ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐ก๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ญ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ข๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฌ.

It’s not to say their ideas don’t lack critical thinking or that these ideas don’t cause harm to others. They do. It’s to say, as the saying goes: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” You won’t change anyone’s mind by ridiculing them. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Mick West says the same thing in his book โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Holeโ€. The former co-founder of Neversoft Entertainment, Mick first became introduced to conspiracy theories when he was studying aviation weather for his pilotโ€™s license. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โœˆโ€

He was introduced to the Chemtrails conspiracy theory, the belief that condensation trails left by aircrafts are toxic chemicals being sprayed by the government to poison people. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

What initially started as a website he created to debunk the theory led him to debunking many more theories. As of today, Mick is the founder of Metabunk and has spent over 10 years debunking conspiracy theories. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

But thereโ€™s a difference between Mick and many others who just want to prove conspiracy theorists wrong online. ๐Ÿ›‘

From his many interviews with current and “former” conspiracy theorists, he advocates for understanding and respectful communication. โค๏ธ

In his book โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Holeโ€, he argues weโ€™re ALL susceptible to conspiracy theories. Like while I myself personally don’t believe in most conspiracies, even I still at times am prone to feeling cynical towards pharmaceutical companies, to give one example. ๐Ÿ’Š

๐‘พ๐’† ๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’‡๐’” ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’„๐’‚๐’–๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’‘ ๐’–๐’” ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’†๐’™ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’…. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‘๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’ ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’† ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’ ๐’‘๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“๐’๐’†๐’”๐’” ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐‘ช๐’†๐’“๐’•๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘บ๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’Š๐’‡๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’๐’„๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’˜๐’†’๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’‚๐’“๐’† “๐’‚๐’”๐’๐’†๐’†๐’‘” ๐’•๐’. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’–๐’” ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’–๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’…๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’„๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’†, ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’˜๐’†’๐’“๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Š๐’๐’…๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’–๐’‚๐’๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’†, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’๐’†๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’†๐’…. ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐‘ฐ๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’…๐’—๐’Š๐’†๐’˜, ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’Ž๐’๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’•. ๐Ÿ˜จ

The unfortunate part is just that some individuals fell deeper down the rabbit hole than most of us ever did. ๐Ÿ•ณ๏ธ

So, Mick’s personal mission with his work is not about shaming conspiracy theorists but rather on helping them climb out of the rabbit hole their cynical minds have become stuck in. ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚โ€

His biggest piece of advice: be respectful and understanding. Remember: it couldโ€™ve just as easily been you under the same circumstances. ๐Ÿ‘ค

๐Ž๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ก๐ฎ๐ซ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ. โค๏ธ

Apart from our susceptibility to conspiracy theories, we all as human beings suffer from whatโ€™s known as cognitive biases. They are patterns of thinking which psychologically distort how we view the world. ๐Ÿ‘€

Some of the most common biases include:

๐Ÿง  Negativity Bias. Weโ€™re more likely to give attention to negativity than we do to positivity.

๐Ÿง  Confirmation Bias. Weโ€™re more likely to believe information which reinforces our worldview and more easily dismiss information which goes against it.

๐Ÿง  Black-and-White (Dichotomous) Thinking. Weโ€™re more likely to see the world in polar opposite extremes. Good versus Evil. Us versus Them.

๐Ÿง  Illusory pattern perception. Weโ€™re more likely to see patterns among things which have no relation to each other. Itโ€™s why in science thereโ€™s the principle: โ€œCorrelation does not mean causationโ€.

But one of the biggest culprits, especially being illuminated now in our culture, is:

๐Ÿง  The Dunning-Kruger Effect. Weโ€™re more likely to overestimate our ability at something weโ€™re actually really bad at. The unintelligent individual is more likely to overestimate his intelligence, while the intelligent individual is more likely to underestimate his intelligence.

Or as philosopher Bertrand Russell put it back in 1933 as a response to the rise of Nazi Germany: โ€œ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’ƒ๐’๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’–๐’‘๐’Š๐’… ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’„๐’Œ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’‡๐’–๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’…๐’๐’–๐’ƒ๐’•.โ€๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚โ€

Again, we ALL suffer from these biases, some of us worse than others. They are not limited to conspiracy theorists, although they may be more greatly illuminated through their example. ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

But the reason Iโ€™m sharing this all with you today is because during times of stress and anxiety, especially during these times of COVID-19, conspiracy theories are far more prevalent and far more likely to be embraced as truth. ๐Ÿ‘

Conspiracy theories increased after 9/11. They increased after Sandy Hook. They increased after the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. And they are now increasing during COVID-19. Iโ€™m sure youโ€™ve already seen the 5G conspiracy being shared. ๐Ÿ“ก

More than ever, itโ€™s going to be easy to fall into these cognitive traps so I want to remind us all to be extra mindful of this. ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚โ€

This is NOT a “conspiracy” problem; it’s a human problem, deeply rooted in cynicism, distrust, and paranoia. ๐Ÿ˜จ

As Dale Carnegie reminds us: “๐‘พ๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’†๐’๐’‘๐’๐’†, ๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’–๐’” ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’˜๐’† ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’„. ๐‘พ๐’† ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’†๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’, ๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’“๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’‹๐’–๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’—๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’š.”

๐Ÿคฌ โ€œ๐˜๐Ž๐”โ€™๐‘๐„ ๐๐ˆ๐€๐’๐„๐ƒ ๐€๐†๐€๐ˆ๐๐’๐“ ๐“๐‡๐„ ๐“๐‘๐”๐“๐‡, ๐ƒ๐Ž๐๐€๐‹๐ƒ! ๐–๐€๐Š๐„ ๐”๐!โ€๐Ÿคฌ

The questions I challenge everyone to ask themselves:

๐Ÿค” Do you possess your beliefs? Or do your beliefs possess you?

๐Ÿค” Are you able to step outside your own ideology and understand your criticโ€™s points of view?

๐Ÿค” Are you able to steelman your opponentโ€™s arguments and understand their position thoroughly before dismissing them completely?

In addition, I challenge you:

๐Ÿ’ช To get sources from multiple points of view, including information that may go against your beliefs. Not all information is created equal.

๐Ÿ’ช Stay aware of your cognitive biases and genuinely seek to understand other people’s points of view. See if you can steelman their argument.

๐Ÿ’ช Give others who disagree with you the benefit of the doubt. Donโ€™t automatically assume malicious intent. Perhaps you may learn something from them you didnโ€™t know before.

This is not just a reminder for you all, but also for me! I need to hear these reminders at times too! Again, Iโ€™m not immune to a lack of self-awareness. It’s an ongoing process! ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER! โค๏ธ

.

Below, I am providing resources which have greatly helped me develop my critical thinking skills! โฌ‡๏ธ

๐๐Ž๐Ž๐Š๐’

๐Ÿ“˜ โ€œEscaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respectโ€ by Mick West – https://amzn.to/3hKPnNS

๐Ÿ“™ “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts” by Carol Tavris & Elliott Aronson – https://amzn.to/2X7QFuj

๐Ÿ“• โ€œHow to Think โ€“ A Survival Guide for a World at Oddsโ€ by Alan Jacobs https://amzn.to/39DdBXr

๐Ÿ“— โ€œThinking, Fast and Slowโ€ by Daniel Kahneman – https://amzn.to/30UV4lG

๐Ÿ“™ โ€œYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways Youโ€™re Deluding Yourselfโ€ by David McRaney – https://amzn.to/3hLuQbV

๐Ÿ“˜ โ€œThe Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Darkโ€ by Carl Sagan – https://amzn.to/3jR8Oq8

๐Ÿ“• โ€œThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religionโ€ by Jonathan Haidt – https://amzn.to/2P2Ddna

.

๐Ž๐๐‹๐ˆ๐๐„ ๐‘๐„๐’๐Ž๐”๐‘๐‚๐„๐’

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Navigating Digital Information โ€“ A 10-episode series dedicated to teaching critical thinking skills for browsing the Internet. https://bit.ly/2EnmatQ

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Philosophy โ€“ A 46-episode series dedicated to teaching philosophical ideas, which in turn practices your critical thinking skills. https://bit.ly/3faLlwH

๐Ÿ“ผ CrashCourse Media Literacy โ€“ A 12-episode series dedicated to teaching the history and psychology of media. https://bit.ly/3f3YuYg

๐Ÿ“„ A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs: Field Characteristics, Measurement Instruments, and Associations with Personality Traits – https://bit.ly/30WLrCR

.

๐•๐ˆ๐ƒ๐„๐Ž๐’

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack โ€“ What Makes REAL Science? – https://bit.ly/3hR3pxz

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – How Conspiracies Changed & The Decline of Expertise (Flat Earth, Anti-Vaxxers) – https://bit.ly/335qcl1

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – How Fake Science (Pseudoscience) Can Fool You! – https://bit.ly/330Puki

๐Ÿ“ผ Wisecrack – The Internet was a Mistake – https://bit.ly/39EfzqC

๐Ÿ“ผ SciShow โ€“ The Science of Anti-Vaccination – https://bit.ly/2X6IQ8i

๐Ÿ“ผ SciShow Psych – Why Do So Many People Believe in Conspiracy Theories? – https://bit.ly/3gmdPEM

๐Ÿ“ผ Late Night with John Oliver – Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories – https://bit.ly/3fbTjWj

Why You’re NOT “Skeptical”!

Skepticism says: “I don’t know. Let’s look at the evidence.” ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Cynicism says: “I don’t know, but it’s probably bad so let’s only find evidence confirming that.” ๐Ÿ˜ก

Skepticism is impartial, unbiased. It wants the objective truth, regardless of one’s personal beliefs about others and the world. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Cynicism is biased towards negativity. It only wants information that supports its negative bias. ๐Ÿ˜ก

๐ŸŒŸ What some people mistake for “skepticism” is actually cynicism under the guise of skepticism. ๐ŸŒŸ

One example of cynicism is conspiracy theories. While detractors will claim they are being “skeptical”, their reasoning consistently points to cynical thinking instead. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

One example of cynicism is conspiracy theories. While detractors might claim they are being “skeptical”, their reasoning consistently points to cynical thinking instead.

So the next time you’re in a situation trying to understand the bigger picture, be sure to separate your biases from the facts themselves. โ†”๏ธ

Otherwise, you’re actually seeing the situation through a narrow emotional lens. ๐Ÿ‘€ โค๏ธ