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Jimbean

conspiracy theory and debating

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This might have be be moved, I am putting this here because I am not sure where I should post it.

I am a lurker to this forum, I don't post much, but I have a question and then a set of questions:

Why is it that Objectivists do not argue with someone who subscribes to conspiracy theory. One explanation that I came across is that by arguing with someone who subscribes to conspiracy theory, some credibility is given to them, therefore Objectivists do not argue with them. What other reasons are there, if any, that an Objectivist does not argue against conspiracy if they do not believe it?

My second question is more controversial, I do not wish to stir anything up here, so I apologize if I do, but here it is:

Conspiracy theory by itself without evidence is an invalid method of thinking because then the theory is taken on faith. If there is any evidence of a conspiracy, it is approached inductively and gets shown to be false. But what about the conspiracies that are shown to be true? Was it natural to be wrong in that case? Or by being wrong means one had slipped into an inductive fallacy?

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This might have be be moved, I am putting this here because I am not sure where I should post it.

I am a lurker to this forum, I don't post much, but I have a question and then a set of questions:

Why is it that Objectivists do not argue with someone who subscribes to conspiracy theory. One explanation that I came across is that by arguing with someone who subscribes to conspiracy theory, some credibility is given to them, therefore Objectivists do not argue with them. What other reasons are there, if any, that an Objectivist does not argue against conspiracy if they do not believe it?

My second question is more controversial, I do not wish to stir anything up here, so I apologize if I do, but here it is:

Conspiracy theory by itself without evidence is an invalid method of thinking because then the theory is taken on faith. If there is any evidence of a conspiracy, it is approached inductively and gets shown to be false. But what about the conspiracies that are shown to be true? Was it natural to be wrong in that case? Or by being wrong means one had slipped into an inductive fallacy?

Regarding your first question, I don't know that Objectivists are opposed to responding to conspiracies, as you claim. Conspiracies happen all the time. Two people planning a crime together, circumstantial conspiracies like the S&L bank robbery, Churchills prior knowledge of the pearl harbor attack, etc. It probably wouldn't be difficult to point to hundreds if not thousands of these limited sorts of conspiracies.

The opposition and disregard tends to come when the theory lacks induction. That is to say, they take a correlational bit of data, draw a string of causation deductively from it, and claim intent as well as far reaching consequences that involve them personally, which, in turn gives them a sense of importance in the world.

As anyone who has ever run a business or planned any complex enterprise will confirm, the best plans go wrong and to have something that is even 50% like you planned it to be, is an unusual accomplishment. So the idea that someone could plan some grand enterprise consisting of thousands of people held to secrecy that worked out every detail down to what I have for breakfast is exceedingly unlikely. While not impossible, a great deal of evidence would need to be provided to warrant serious consideration and the burden of proof is on the person making the improbable claim. As it would be for a mystical event or revolutionary scientific break through.

edit:regarding the second question, I indirectly answered it above, but for clarity's sake, as more empirical evidence is provided, more people will take interest and more credibility will be awarded.

Edited by aequalsa

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I usually do not debate conspiracy theorists, but I do debate their audience.

Why? Well, let's define terms. A conspiracy is any plan by two or more people to accomplush some kind of criminal act. Naturally some conspiracies are real, from the two guys who decide to knock up a liquor store, to revolutionary moevements, to Nazi Germany's preparations to hit Europe.

But conspiracy theorists take some well-documented event and turn it into its exact opposite. Often disregarding evidence, making phony arguments about the evidence, and making up evidence. Not to mention they give more credence to any unkown person of little or dubious accomplishments to physical or docummentary evidence.

For example, the Moon landing hoax. There are literally pounds of evidence that astronauts did land on the Moon on various occassions. Not only the countless photographs and hours of video, but also actual samples of Lunar rocks returned to Earth and analyzed and studied by hundreds of scientists since then. The conspiracy nuts (and in these cases they are nuts) try to "prove" it's all a fake by showcasing their missunderstanding of simple physics (there are no stars visible in the photos), and their utter lack of knowledge about comaprative technologies (that the tech to reach the Moon didn't exist, but the means to fake it convincingly did; in reality it's the other way around). And they have to ignore the fact that many reputable geologists studied the samples. They would have to make either of two extraordinary claims: 1) the scientists were so incompetent they can't tell a garden-variety Earth rock from a Lunar one, or 2) theya re all in on it.

The 9/11 conspiracy theories are even worse. Especially since you can cut to the chase easily thus: the buildings began to collapse exactly in the floors where the planes hit and the fires started. If they were brought down by explosives, as the conspiracy theorists claim, then there exist explosives that can 1) withstand the impact of a loaded airliner, 2) withstand several minutes of intense fire and 3) come equipped with detonators and remote systems that can also withstand all that.

Ben Franklin is attributed with a quotation that says "Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead." Any conspiracy or complex plan requires a measure of secrecy, and indeed it can be achieved. But Franklin only exaggerates the issue. It's one thing for, say, the US Army to be able to conceal, for a limmited time, wehre it would invade Europe, and quite another to gather anywhere from dozens to thousands of people from various groups and expect them to keep a secret for decades.

As to why such conspiracies arise I have a hypothesis for some. There is a refusal to accept facts that are horrible (such as AIDS or the Holocaust) or merely contrary to one's emotions (such as America being victimized or being successful). Therefore some people would rather believe AIDS is a conspiracy by someone, anyone, rather than an accident of nature caused by HIV. As to facts contrary to one's emotions, consider the 9/11 theories. One cannot support radical Islamists or their "moderate" apologists without also embracing the practical side of the grievance-mongering, which is the mass murder of innocent victims through terrorist acts. Therefore the theory that the much maligned Islamists didn't even commit the atrocity.

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My second question is more controversial, I do not wish to stir anything up here, so I apologize if I do, but here it is:

Conspiracy theory by itself without evidence is an invalid method of thinking because then the theory is taken on faith. If there is any evidence of a conspiracy, it is approached inductively and gets shown to be false. But what about the conspiracies that are shown to be true? Was it natural to be wrong in that case? Or by being wrong means one had slipped into an inductive fallacy?

You're saying a few things here that are throwing me, they don't seem to make much sense. So I'll only try to answer what I think you're trying to say...

If you are suggesting that all conspiracy theories are false but then wondering about those shown to be true you're already committing a big time logical fallacy, something cannot be both P and -P. We can safely assume that any inductive reasoning suggesting all conspiracy theories are false is FALSE because of what the other users like d'kian have already beaten into the ground; a conspiracy could be anything. I used to conspire with my friends how best to shop-lift cigarettes. If the premise that all conspiracy theories are false is shown to be false than it was not "natural to be wrong" about the logical validity of the conspiracy. Thus you were not "being wrong" but you had slipped into an inductive fallacy: the fallacy of really weak induction. Hope this helps.

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