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How to undermine a Conspiracy.

Conspiracy theories are like smoking, once you try you can be hooked. The reasons they are so powerful and so confluent are myriad, but can be boiled down to just a few simple points, all of which are fallacies.
1) Conspiracy plays on emotion to convince you of a story. The general scientific approach to data is to review what is available and refute the null hypothesis, i.e that there is no change in rules based on new observations. Scientists can never make fully causal claims.
Science, ideally, should be without emotion in data analysis, as emotion clouds judgment. We look at the data objectively and see what it doesn't say, and what it may suggest. Further research may refine or obfuscate, but the general trend is toward share objective agreement.
Conspiracy takes another approach, by inducing emotion in the analysis of data to provide an alternative, false, conclusion. By forcing us to feel personally involved in the outcome, it establishes a personal bias in the story, and as such, we overlook the lack of connection.
We may even observe the lack of connection as 'evidence' that something is being hidden. Lets take an example to demonstrate this. 5G is rolled out across the country and at the same time COVID 19 cases soar.
The scientific approach notes a correlation, but no causal pathway between the two. The two phenomena are linked in time, but not process. There is no known way that 5G (a form of EMR with known frequency/wavelength/energy) would cause COVID 19.
But if the story is that 'you want it to' you may be willing to ask questions like 'well why has no one considered this, who is hiding it, why is this happening now.' These are all reasonable questions, except the answers do not create a feasible link in the process.
Who is hiding the data? Noone, its all there. Why is it happening now? The virus happened to occur at the same time as technology was rolled out. Another way to approach this is looking at the inferences and rules established in the conspiracy.
If 5g led to COVID 19, we would see a persistently high level or rising level as more 5G was rolled out, or levels remained present. We have seen a downturn (or at least we did.) The story circumvents facts by providing an emotive narrative. It is a trick.
2) Conspiracy utilizes a lack of data to enforce paranoia. Paranoia, i.e the concept of worry about an action or process relevant to oneself, is a common thing and the apogee of worry. It is also a useful tool in manipulating people, on a personal or societal level.
If you can convince someone they are in danger, they may buy your product. If you can convince someone that another person is hiding vital information key to their survival, that person becomes a target. No proof is needed, just the suggestion. Once the idea is planted..
its hard to shake. The human brain evolved to assign importance to the memorisation of threat, and develop reflexive cognitive schema to protect against it. The threat perception becomes illogical and powerful. This is how conspiracy works, by scaring you into belief.
3) Conspiracy works in circular arguments, where the link between A and B is proved by both A and B. Take this example:

Proposition: The bible is the word of God
Conclusion: God exists as it says so in the bible.

The clue here is that the argument cannot be refuted.
As it is constructed in such a way that the premise solidifies the conclusion and the conclusion the premise. Neither actually provide external proof of the link, but rely on simple logic to confound counterargument. Conspiracy does this too
The key here is to remove the impetus to doubt the conclusion, as the premise provides an acceptable solution if you are already convinced, or keen to be convinced, by either of the other two methods above.
So why are conspiracy theories so popular? Apart from the reasons above, they fulfil a natural human need to explain information and relate in self and purpose to the world. Humans developed pattern recognition skills to help them analyse threat and improve survival.
The process is both conscious and unconscious, influenced by learning, genetics and reinforced by experienced. It is maintained by the frontal lobes in analysis, but triggered without thought by the limbic system. We simply are built to tell stories, especially if they connect...
with our perception of survival. That perception may be that we must avoid threat, find a partner, feed, sleep, or any other kind of basic need. Any message that attempts to connect to a drive like this is given priority, and is easily picked up by the brain.
Questioning these cognitive schemas requires active thought and skills such as critical appraisal to spot the flaws in the story. With 5G its easy if you know anything about physics and biology, but less so if you don't. And if someone wants to convince you...
The chances are that you are not a scientist, and cannot be blamed for susceptibility (this is called information asymmetry, and is used constantly in media and policy to enforce decisions based on relative ignorance.) Conspiracy does this well, as it ticks all the boxes...
The main reason for the popularity of conspiracy is that most of us are susceptible to the tricks, and lack the education (through no fault of self,) to critically appraise the information objectively. People are simply targetted and manipulated. Its a con.
So how do you actually undermine it, here are simple steps

1) Identify your emotion, and remove it from analysis
2) Review the core data, does it provide a plausible causal link to the conclusion.
3) Question the inferences, what other alternatives are available?
4) Who is creating the message, and what is their agenda?
5) Examine the counter-arguments and apply the same techniques, which is now more convincing and why?
6) If data is absent, do not assume conspiracy, just lack of data. A lack of data questions links, not proves them.
7) If a message is conveyed with emotional terms, consider that the data for it is weak.
8) If a circular argument is provided, disregard it. Its a trick.
9) If the message instills fear in you, but not others, you are being targetted.
10) Engage in debate with the group. If you are shunned, or insulted, it is a cult or group with an agenda tricked into group thinking. That is usually a sign of something dodgy going on.
I will talk more on group psychology another time, as it is a fascinating and critical subject, but this thread was just to give you an intro into how to spot conspiracy and how to
avoid it. For more, have a look at this.

vitals.lifehacker.com/how-to-spot-a-…
And here is a list of common conspiracy theories/false ideas which are popular which you can appraise

1) Aliens built the pyramids
2) The earth is flat
3) Homeopathic medicine has biological mechanisms
4) Healing crystals
5) Climate change is fake
6) 5G leads to COVID 19
And if any of you are interested in the philosophy of science, i'd recommend reading up on the work of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. A good introduction is

agreatread.co.uk/the-meaning-of…

Or Carl Sagans 'Demon Haunted World'

goodreads.com/book/show/1734…
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