𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐲 𝐇𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐄𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐬𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐥 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝. ⏳
I remember watching the news coverage, the feelings of horror, the shock among the country that such an event happened. 😱
I even remember the news wrongfully attributing the killer’s potential motive to his diagnosis of autism. ❌
It wasn’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? 😫
“𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒊𝒕 𝒔𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒂𝒏 𝒂𝒄𝒕?! 𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒂𝒏 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏?!”
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. 🖥️
But the title of the video caught my attention: “SANDY HOOK EXPOSED”. 😱
I clicked on it…and for the next half hour I was entranced watching the entire video! 😵
𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐲 𝐇𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝. 𝐁𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐲 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐨𝐫𝐲. 👿
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 💭:
“𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒃𝒆 𝒏𝒐 𝒈𝒖𝒏?!” “𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔?!” “𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒔 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆!” “𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆!”
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: “𝑨 𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝒅𝒐𝒆𝒔𝒏’𝒕 𝒅𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔!” “𝑰𝒔 𝒉𝒆 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈?!” 💭
I remember another clip which showed the mother of the daughter, but she was smiling and saying words you couldn’t hear because the audio was muted. Again, the subtitles were ready to tell me what to think: “𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆 𝒔𝒐 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔?!” “𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒔 𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒘𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆!” 💭
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! 📚
The video brought me to the conclusion it wanted me to come to: that Sandy Hook never happened, that it was a hoax. 😱
…Looking back on this memory in hindsight, I’m glad I watched the video.
⚠️ 𝐍𝐎, 𝐒𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐘 𝐇𝐎𝐎𝐊 𝐖𝐀𝐒 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐀 𝐇𝐎𝐀𝐗! ⚠️
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. 😠
Thankfully, at the time I watched this video I had enough skepticism to get additional perspectives on the video’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/ )
📌 The father who went from crying to smiling? There could be any number of reasons why that happened. 𝑨 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒊𝒂𝒍 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 “𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒇” 𝒉𝒆’𝒔 𝒂𝒏 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒐𝒓 𝒏𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆’𝒔 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒅𝒊𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍 𝒈𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒏.
📌 That mother who was smiling in the muted video clip? If you got to hear the video clip unmuted, you’d quickly understand she was smiling because she was sharing positive memories about her daughter. 𝑰𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒐𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒐𝒂𝒙 𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒐 𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒂𝒖𝒅𝒊𝒐 𝒊𝒏, 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒅 𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒚 𝒔𝒆𝒆 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒅.
𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐝 “𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡” 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨 𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐟𝐞𝐝 𝐚 𝐜𝐲𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐲-𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐮𝐩. 👎
𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐈𝐒 𝐀 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐒𝐏𝐈𝐑𝐀𝐂𝐘 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐎𝐑𝐘?!
We can use Merriam-Webster’s definition: “A theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” 📖
We can also use Britannica’s definition: “An attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small, powerful group.” 📖
Let’s also add in Dictionary.com’s definition: “A theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert group or organization with carrying out a secret plot.” 📖
The reason I wanted to give you all these definitions is there’s also a conspiracy theory online that the CIA created the term “conspiracy theory” to silence people during the JFK assassination. This is False. 👎
(Source: https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/03/16/did-the-cia-invent-the-term-conspiracy-theory/ )
Even more, there’s a conspiracy theory that the source I’ve been citing above, Snopes, has a “leftist propaganda political agenda”. This is again False. 👎
If you’re starting to notice a pattern, the problem is that 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 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 “shill” or a “sheep”. 🤷♂️
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 “fake news” simply because it doesn’t fit with their worldview. ❌
🤬 “𝐘𝐎𝐔’𝐑𝐄 𝐒𝐎 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐃𝐄𝐒𝐂𝐄𝐍𝐃𝐈𝐍𝐆, 𝐃𝐎𝐍𝐀𝐋𝐃! 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐀𝐂𝐓 𝐋𝐈𝐊𝐄 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐒𝐏𝐈𝐑𝐀𝐂𝐈𝐄𝐒 𝐃𝐎𝐍’𝐓 𝐄𝐗𝐈𝐒𝐓!” 🤬
Let me clarify: 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝟏𝟎𝟎% 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞! 💯
📍 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 children’s bodies without permission from grieving families.
📍 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.
📍 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! 💯
It’s not that I don’t believe conspiracies have never happened or that I believe world governments have never done anything shady before. They have! And there’s a lot of classified information we as the general public will never be aware of. 👍
Citing the incidents above, it’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? 👍
The difference with my perspective is 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐮𝐦𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞-𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭. 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐨𝐜𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲. 👮
It’s important to remember when we demonize “the government” we’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. 👪
It’s this very problem of overgeneralizing I even have to remember myself! I’m guilty of it too! 🙋♂️
I’m aware I have a habit of criticizing what I often call “the media”. 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. 📰
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?! 😅
My point is: don’t let your obsession over a few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. Or as I always say: 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐰 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐛𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫. 👶
The other day I watched the Netflix documentary “Behind the Curve” about Flat Earthers, people who believe the world is flat and that this truth is being covered up by NASA. 🚀
I think for many of my friends you’ll be quick to laugh even hearing that such a community exists. But I actually did take a valuable lesson watching the film, and I’ll tell you what…⬇️
Sure, the Flat Earther arguments lack critical thinking. Sure, it’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! 😅
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! 💯
In fact, telling someone they’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. ↔️
My point is: we need to apply this same understanding with the people around us. 🌎
𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐈 𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐮𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐲 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐬.
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. 🙌
Mick West says the same thing in his book “Escaping the Rabbit Hole”. The former co-founder of Neversoft Entertainment, Mick first became introduced to conspiracy theories when he was studying aviation weather for his pilot’s license. 👨✈
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. 😱
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. 😲
But there’s a difference between Mick and many others who just want to prove conspiracy theorists wrong online. 🛑
From his many interviews with current and “former” conspiracy theorists, he advocates for understanding and respectful communication. ❤️
In his book “Escaping the Rabbit Hole”, he argues we’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. 💊
𝑾𝒆 𝒆𝒎𝒃𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒇𝒔 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒑 𝒖𝒔 𝒔𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒙 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅. 😨
𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒖𝒔 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓. 😨
𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒖𝒔 𝑪𝒆𝒓𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑺𝒊𝒈𝒏𝒊𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆’𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 “𝒂𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑” 𝒕𝒐. 😨
𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒖𝒔 𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒖𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒍𝒚 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒚 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒆, 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆’𝒓𝒆 𝒂 𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒖𝒂𝒍𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒏𝒆𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒅. 😨
𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅𝒗𝒊𝒆𝒘, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒃𝒆 𝒂 𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒏 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒄𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒕. 😨
The unfortunate part is just that some individuals fell deeper down the rabbit hole than most of us ever did. 🕳️
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. 🙋♂
His biggest piece of advice: be respectful and understanding. Remember: it could’ve just as easily been you under the same circumstances. 👤
𝐎𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭. ❤️
Apart from our susceptibility to conspiracy theories, we all as human beings suffer from what’s known as cognitive biases. They are patterns of thinking which psychologically distort how we view the world. 👀
Some of the most common biases include:
🧠 Negativity Bias. We’re more likely to give attention to negativity than we do to positivity.
🧠 Confirmation Bias. We’re more likely to believe information which reinforces our worldview and more easily dismiss information which goes against it.
🧠 Black-and-White (Dichotomous) Thinking. We’re more likely to see the world in polar opposite extremes. Good versus Evil. Us versus Them.
🧠 Illusory pattern perception. We’re more likely to see patterns among things which have no relation to each other. It’s why in science there’s the principle: “Correlation does not mean causation”.
But one of the biggest culprits, especially being illuminated now in our culture, is:
🧠 The Dunning-Kruger Effect. We’re more likely to overestimate our ability at something we’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: “𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒃𝒍𝒆𝒎 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒏 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒖𝒑𝒊𝒅 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒇𝒖𝒍𝒍 𝒐𝒇 𝒅𝒐𝒖𝒃𝒕.”🤦♂
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. 🗣️
But the reason I’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. 👍
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. I’m sure you’ve already seen the 5G conspiracy being shared. 📡
More than ever, it’s going to be easy to fall into these cognitive traps so I want to remind us all to be extra mindful of this. 🧘♂
This is NOT a “conspiracy” problem; it’s a human problem, deeply rooted in cynicism, distrust, and paranoia. 😨
As Dale Carnegie reminds us: “𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒅𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆, 𝒍𝒆𝒕 𝒖𝒔 𝒓𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒎𝒃𝒆𝒓 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒅𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒊𝒄. 𝑾𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏, 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒋𝒖𝒅𝒊𝒄𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒑𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒕𝒚.”
🤬 “𝐘𝐎𝐔’𝐑𝐄 𝐁𝐈𝐀𝐒𝐄𝐃 𝐀𝐆𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐒𝐓 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐓𝐑𝐔𝐓𝐇, 𝐃𝐎𝐍𝐀𝐋𝐃! 𝐖𝐀𝐊𝐄 𝐔𝐏!”🤬
The questions I challenge everyone to ask themselves:
🤔 Do you possess your beliefs? Or do your beliefs possess you?
🤔 Are you able to step outside your own ideology and understand your critic’s points of view?
🤔 Are you able to steelman your opponent’s arguments and understand their position thoroughly before dismissing them completely?
In addition, I challenge you:
💪 To get sources from multiple points of view, including information that may go against your beliefs. Not all information is created equal.
💪 Stay aware of your cognitive biases and genuinely seek to understand other people’s points of view. See if you can steelman their argument.
💪 Give others who disagree with you the benefit of the doubt. Don’t automatically assume malicious intent. Perhaps you may learn something from them you didn’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, I’m not immune to a lack of self-awareness. It’s an ongoing process! 🙋♂️
WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER! ❤️
Below, I am providing resources which have greatly helped me develop my critical thinking skills! ⬇️
📘 “Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect” by Mick West – https://amzn.to/3hKPnNS
📙 “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
📕 “How to Think – A Survival Guide for a World at Odds” by Alan Jacobs https://amzn.to/39DdBXr
📗 “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman – https://amzn.to/30UV4lG
📙 “You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself” by David McRaney – https://amzn.to/3hLuQbV
📘 “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan – https://amzn.to/3jR8Oq8
📕 “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt – https://amzn.to/2P2Ddna
📼 CrashCourse Navigating Digital Information – A 10-episode series dedicated to teaching critical thinking skills for browsing the Internet. https://bit.ly/2EnmatQ
📼 CrashCourse Philosophy – A 46-episode series dedicated to teaching philosophical ideas, which in turn practices your critical thinking skills. https://bit.ly/3faLlwH
📼 CrashCourse Media Literacy – A 12-episode series dedicated to teaching the history and psychology of media. https://bit.ly/3f3YuYg
📄 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
📼 Wisecrack – What Makes REAL Science? – https://bit.ly/3hR3pxz
📼 Wisecrack – How Conspiracies Changed & The Decline of Expertise (Flat Earth, Anti-Vaxxers) – https://bit.ly/335qcl1
📼 Wisecrack – How Fake Science (Pseudoscience) Can Fool You! – https://bit.ly/330Puki
📼 Wisecrack – The Internet was a Mistake – https://bit.ly/39EfzqC
📼 SciShow – The Science of Anti-Vaccination – https://bit.ly/2X6IQ8i
📼 SciShow Psych – Why Do So Many People Believe in Conspiracy Theories? – https://bit.ly/3gmdPEM
📼 Late Night with John Oliver – Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories – https://bit.ly/3fbTjWj