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Old 1st April 2021, 02:04 AM   #1
Cosmic Yak
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CT Hero Worship

There is a frequently-occuring aspect of conspiracy theory thinking that I find interesting, and possibly worthy of discussion.
Whenever a conspiracy theorist posts something, the focus is almost always on the person who said it, rather than what they actually said.
Prominent figures are cited- 'Judy Mikovitz says this', 'RFK Jr. says that'- as if that was enough. Very little, if any, attention is paid to what evidence there is for these utterances.
The same applies when CT-ists address counter-arguments: the focus is again on who said it (Fauci being the obvious example), not what was said.
This appears to be peculiar to conspiracy theorists. Those arguing for science and factual evidence don't put such high value on the messenger: they look at the facts behind the claims. CT-ists don't appear to understand this, and constantly assume we are engaging in the same kind of hero-worship that they are. (Well, this is true for me, and appears to be generally true on this forum).
Why is this?
Why this focus on the person and not the evidence? Why this blind trust of favoured individuals, and equally irrational distrust of others? I really don't get it.
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Old 1st April 2021, 02:28 AM   #2
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It's the same kind of logic that dictates that anyone working for [insert sinister organisation of choice] must be giving false information, absolving the CT proponent if having to do any of that tedious fact checking business, or that anyone presenting any kind of opposing view must be shilling for Big [insert perceived villain of choice]. It allows handwaving away of any facts and independently verifiable truth without having to worry about it.

It also means they don't need to do any thinking of their own. Some well spoken source with slick presentational skills tickles all their confirmation bias buttons and they don't need to do any of the grunt work, unlike those sheeple that just swallow expert opinions that oppose theirs.

It's just standard run of the mill hypocrisy and double standards.
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Old 1st April 2021, 10:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
There is a frequently-occuring aspect of conspiracy theory thinking that I find interesting, and possibly worthy of discussion.
Whenever a conspiracy theorist posts something, the focus is almost always on the person who said it, rather than what they actually said.
Prominent figures are cited- 'Judy Mikovitz says this', 'RFK Jr. says that'- as if that was enough. Very little, if any, attention is paid to what evidence there is for these utterances.
The same applies when CT-ists address counter-arguments: the focus is again on who said it (Fauci being the obvious example), not what was said.
This appears to be peculiar to conspiracy theorists. Those arguing for science and factual evidence don't put such high value on the messenger: they look at the facts behind the claims. CT-ists don't appear to understand this, and constantly assume we are engaging in the same kind of hero-worship that they are. (Well, this is true for me, and appears to be generally true on this forum).
Why is this?
Why this focus on the person and not the evidence? Why this blind trust of favoured individuals, and equally irrational distrust of others? I really don't get it.
It's the argument by authority.

And CTers love to climb the social ladder of the CT subculture. Why would a CTer wannabe attempt to change the subculture by insisting upon solid evidence only to have that same practice jump up and bite them in the butt when he or she formulas a theory?

An example of this is when Gavin Seim caught holly hell from the CT community when he argued against and demanded proof of the theory that 5G towers were causing covid-19.
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Old 1st April 2021, 10:10 AM   #4
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Argument from authority?

Lack of any standalone, supportable evidence?

My dad/brother is bigger than yours?

My gang is bigger/better than yours?

Not understanding real, proper science, so having to fall back on anything or anyone which/who discredits or challenges that?

Not having developed, intellectually nor emotionally, since the age of 12?
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Old 1st April 2021, 11:04 AM   #5
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It's not just conspiracy theorists. I think pretty much everyone has their favorite authorities. You've got people in US politics fetishizing the Yale Group. You've got the "I ******* Love Science!" crowd bowing at the feet of Neill DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. You've got the Snyderfans. Etc.

Take the whole Pluto is not a planet thing. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, "NDT said it, I believe it, that settles it".
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Old 1st April 2021, 11:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's not just conspiracy theorists. I think pretty much everyone has their favorite authorities. You've got people in US politics fetishizing the Yale Group. You've got the "I ******* Love Science!" crowd bowing at the feet of Neill DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. You've got the Snyderfans. Etc.

Take the whole Pluto is not a planet thing. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, "NDT said it, I believe it, that settles it".
I disagree.
I do not- on this forum, or indeed anywhere else- see sceptics or science-minded people 'bowing at the feet' of anyone. That's kind of my whole point. No-one here (generalisation, but I think reasonable) simply posts a meme from NDT as an authoritative answer to anything. What is posted is the research, the reports, the evidence- and, for the most part, who wrote it is of lesser importance than what is written. Is it sound? Has is passed peer review? Those sorts of questions.
On the CT side, however, those questions are never asked. Piers Corbyn, for example, has repeatedly asserted that 'the Covid vaccine' (because, again, he doesn't seem to know there are several) is 'Satanic', it alters your DNA and makes you infertile. He provides not a shred of evidence for these claims, yet they are believed, fervently believed, by many people, apparently just because he said so. I don't see the parallel with sceptics at all, I'm afraid.
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Old 1st April 2021, 11:45 AM   #7
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There have been a number of published studies about the psychology of conspiracy theorists.
One of the common characteristics is a fear of disorder and change, complemented by a desire for an orderly, understandable world.
I wonder if these frequent appeals to authority are part of that? That they want a leader, someone to tell them something that chimes with their fears and makes them feel better?
It is, to me, reminiscent of the mindset you get in cults and the more predatory "spiritual" ashrams and groups - this fixation with gurus, leaders who have the answers. These groups, of course, cement their hold over the minds of their believers by gradually cutting off all input and information from outside the group. You can see the same process with the whole 'don't trust the MSM' idea: any contradictory ideas are filtered out, and you are left with only the guru for support and validation.
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Old 1st April 2021, 12:27 PM   #8
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Brinkmanship.

"I am so superior to a conspiracy theorist".
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Old 1st April 2021, 12:49 PM   #9
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I have to agree that "We don't want to think too hard about it" is a factor. It's human nature to simplify. Putting faith in trusted experts is an easy way to do that. On the subject of health, we hire people like Dr. Fauci and create organizations like the WHO and the CDC precisely because we want them to do the thinking for us. It's simply impossible these days for every person to become an expert in all the fields of knowledge that apply to our survival and well-being.

But then it's easy to get lazy and say, "Ooh, my favorite celebrity endorses this point of view." We lose sight of the basis for trust. On paper, someone like Dr. Fauci deserves trust because he's spent his life studying and treating infectious diseases and has a testable track record as a public employee in that regard. Similarly when I cite to Carl Sagan, it may be on a point of skepticism that isn't necessarily rooted in independently verifiable fact, but in the notion that Sagan earned a reputation as a critical thinker, and a teacher of it. That is, in those cases I have a basis for trust. But it's easy to let that thinking stretch beyond its support. This is why Einstein gets quoted on matters of philosophy that he had no business pontificating about. People wanted him to because, hey, he's a smart guy and we'll let him think about the hard questions for us.

What I see is a parallel to some of the more insidious things about religion. Not all religion, but generally the kind that gets a bad rap here from both sides of the theist-atheist divide. It's not so much that religion creates gods as that it creates devils. American Fundamentalism, as a prime example, is far more afraid of Satan than they are enamored of Jehovah. Creating something to fear and/or loath is a much easier way of getting people to do things. But in any case, framing something as a conflict that everyone has to take sides in is apparently fundamental to how humans think.

Whether it's Verstappen versus Hamilton, Batman versus the Joker, God versus Satan, Zeus versus the Titans, or Fauci versus some talking head on Facebook, we all love a good hero-and-villain story. If they don't present themselves naturally, we tend to invent them. Framing questions as conflict is, of course, the heart and soul of the peer-review process in science. Scientific practice is inherently contentious -- but we hope in a good way. It's contentious in that we don't allow anyone to support a hypothesis with a dictum; they have to actually make observations and test the hypothesis.

It's the partisan contention that causes problems. I think it's the basic problem in the American political discourse now, and since I believe it's deeply rooted in at least the American psyche, it's going to be hard to root out. The QAnon religion (let's call a spade a spade) is all about the Democrats as child-eating monsters instead of human beings. And, of course, "partisan" means more than just political parties. Religion in America often emphasize the "Us vs. Them" mentality and places great emphasis on being in the in-group.

But the theme here is really "Thus saith the Lord," not group dynamics. Turns out you don't need a god if you have a really good prophet. The devil always has to be there. But the "god" can appear by proxy in the form of a prophet or standard-bearer. The proxy doesn't have to be divine (although the God-King Donald Trump could certainly be mistaken for that figure). But he does have to be charismatic and monger all the right fears.

But I think the ground truth is a lot easier. It's easier to litigate questions of whom one trusts than it is questions of who's right if the litigant doesn't know what he's talking about. It appeals to narcissism, because you get to keep believing both that you already know all you need to on the subject and that you're allied with the right people. And it lets you argue about things like opinions, rumors, and innuendo that never can show you to be wrong. Demonizing Dr. Fauci or Hunter Biden not only avoids the really hard brainwork, but lets you frame the discussion in a way that's harder to reveal that you lost.
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Old 1st April 2021, 01:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
Framing questions as conflict is, of course, the heart and soul of the peer-review process in science. Scientific practice is inherently contentious -- but we hope in a good way. It's contentious in that we don't allow anyone to support a hypothesis with a dictum; they have to actually make observations and test the hypothesis.
100%

CTs and crackpot sciencers misunderstand this; they do not realise that new theories are expected to survive the most rigorous of scrutiny, and when academics apply that scrutiny to their theories, they think the academics are biased against them and indulging "groupthink". I remember receiving quite a grilling in the oral examination on presenting my degree thesis.

A great example of this kind of crackpottery is Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist who consistently maintains "science is wrong". Its a antra he often repeated in his show "America Unearthed", because of his belief that "...in many regards, history does not properly relate the actual events which have unfolded". Wolter subscribes to a number of CTs. Many academics take exception with a lot of his theories; Jason Colavito is particularly harsh on him.
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Old 1st April 2021, 01:57 PM   #11
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I think Presige and Jay have already covered my viewpoint, but I think it’s an intrinsic human thing to break things down into good/evil, good guys/bad guys, heroes/villains, New York Yankees/rest of the field. It makes things simpler. Personally, it has led to frustration for me when trying to learn history. It’s easier for historians to write about wars with good guys and bad guys, when what I usually want to know, is the average day for an average person. I have a hard time finding this. I’m probably just not savvy on how to find it, but I also suspect it’s just not covered as much as it’s not sexy and lacks heroes and villains.

Back to CT thinking, I think it’s just lazy or easier to create two black and white sides. Heroes and villains again. I find it boring, and find the idea of a very flawed hero, or a villain with otherwise admirable traits more interesting. Or, even, average people getting swept into positions of power of no volition
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Old 1st April 2021, 05:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Take the whole Pluto is not a planet thing. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, "NDT said it, I believe it, that settles it".
That's a really bad example.

Pluto's lack of planethood is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of definition.
It is the IAU that determines such definitions, Dr. Tyson's opinion is irrelevant.
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Old 1st April 2021, 05:32 PM   #13
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A closely related phenomenon is JFK hero worship.

A lot of people think JFK was a great President because he was assassinated. And why was he assassinated? Because he was going to (pull out of Vietnam/end the Cold War/dismantle the CIA and military industrial complex/ad nauseam) - which made him a great President. And we know he would have done these things, because he was assassinated...

The circularity of this logic is pretty obvious.

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Old 2nd April 2021, 12:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Brinkmanship.

"I am so superior to a conspiracy theorist".
The CT Forum is littered with examples of hero-worship and appeals to authority by the more conspiratorially-minded of its members.
If you think appeals to authority are evidence of sound reasoning, then do please explain why. It would be better than this sniffy strawman of yours.

As you may have noticed, this is a sceptics' forum. It is reasonable, I think, to examine logical fallacies and poor reasoning skills. Perhaps you disagree: your choice, but it needs more of an explanation than 'brinkmanship', a term that, incidentally, I fail to see the relevance of in this context.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 06:50 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Take the whole Pluto is not a planet thing. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, "NDT said it, I believe it, that settles it".
Pluto is not defined as a planet any longer because the definition was refined based on new evidence. If we define the parameters of "planet" to include Pluto, we'd eventually end up with thousands of planets in the Kuiper Belt.

And Dr. Tyson, although in agreement with the redefinition, is not the reason for the change in nomenclature. Nonetheless, when publicly explaining the reasons behind the new category of dwarf planets, has taken pains to explain exactly why the definition was changed.

So while you can probably find a few individuals who do, indeed, blindly accept whatever an authority figure, or perceived authority figure says, it's certainly not Dr. Tyson's fault if that happens, given the effort he's made to explicate the reasons for the change of definition. Your example is really nothing more than a tu quoque fallacy.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 07:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
Pluto is not defined as a planet any longer because the definition was refined based on new evidence. If we define the parameters of "planet" to include Pluto, we'd eventually end up with thousands of planets in the Kuiper Belt.

And Dr. Tyson, although in agreement with the redefinition, is not the reason for the change in nomenclature. Nonetheless, when publicly explaining the reasons behind the new category of dwarf planets, has taken pains to explain exactly why the definition was changed.

So while you can probably find a few individuals who do, indeed, blindly accept whatever an authority figure, or perceived authority figure says, it's certainly not Dr. Tyson's fault if that happens, given the effort he's made to explicate the reasons for the change of definition. Your example is really nothing more than a tu quoque fallacy.
Presenting counter-examples to rebut special pleading is not a tu quoque.

Also, you seem to be defending Tyson against an accusation I didn't make. I'm not talking about the reasons and process for reclassifying Pluto. I'm talking about how people can be ignorant of that and just accept it because it comes from an authority figure.

The attitude Cosmic Yak refers to is not unique to conspiracy theorists. But I now understand Cosmic Yak's point a little better, I think. He's referring specifically and exclusively to the two sides in a conspiracy theory debate, and saying one side is prone to appeals to authority while the other isn't.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 07:53 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
The CT Forum is littered with examples of hero-worship and appeals to authority by the more conspiratorially-minded of its members.
If you think appeals to authority are evidence of sound reasoning, then do please explain why. It would be better than this sniffy strawman of yours.

As you may have noticed, this is a sceptics' forum. It is reasonable, I think, to examine logical fallacies and poor reasoning skills. Perhaps you disagree: your choice, but it needs more of an explanation than 'brinkmanship', a term that, incidentally, I fail to see the relevance of in this context.
I suppose it depends on how you define the term, and I suspect here that it's not used correctly, but if there is an element of that, it's introduced by the conspiracy theorists, who often use their appeal to authority as an argument against appeal to expertise and actual knowledge, which they turn around as others' appeal to authority countered by their assumption of expertise.

So we have here frequent variants on the basic statement that we're all sheeple for believing Saint Fauci because Doctor Diluto knows better because he knows the suppressed truth. They try, at least, to reduce it to a pissing contest between authority figures, and, as I discovered in dealing with my first wife, you will never win that contest if your opponent is full of it.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 08:04 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Allen773 View Post
A closely related phenomenon is JFK hero worship.

A lot of people think JFK was a great President because he was assassinated. And why was he assassinated? Because he was going to (pull out of Vietnam/end the Cold War/dismantle the CIA and military industrial complex/ad nauseam) - which made him a great President. And we know he would have done these things, because he was assassinated...

The circularity of this logic is pretty obvious.
I agree. It is rather hysterically funny the whole St. John of Kennedy cult. It takes a handsome, charismatic President whose actual accomplishments were mediocre and elevates him to being the new Messiah. God's one and only Son sent to save us from our sins. It is the triumph of illusion and propaganda over reality.

And JFK's murder sends this delusional narrative into overdrive. The followers of the cult can now hallucinate that the demonic forces of evil, Satan etc., have taken God's one and only Son away from us and deprived us of salvation. JFK is another version of the dying God cult.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 12:00 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
A great example of this kind of crackpottery is Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist who consistently maintains "science is wrong". Its a antra he often repeated in his show "America Unearthed", because of his belief that "...in many regards, history does not properly relate the actual events which have unfolded". Wolter subscribes to a number of CTs. Many academics take exception with a lot of his theories; Jason Colavito is particularly harsh on him.
The irony being that if you're a geologist you're a scientist, and saying, "Science is wrong" undermines your credibility by circular logic. Science is based on the best data available and as that data evolves the science changes. We've seen this with COVID-19, a virus that has only been in the human population for around 20 months. Just looking at what the CDC, WHO, and medical science believed about the virus one year ago, and what they've learned since is imminence. But that's how real science works.

Most CTists are indoctrinated at home. I was. Dad didn't believe JFK was killed by Oswald, and had Lane and Lifton's CT books. When you're a child you think your dad knows everything so you grow up without questioning a lot of things. There was no doubt in my mind there was a conspiracy to kill JFK and cover it up...until I went to Dallas and everything fell apart while standing on the sidewalk below the Grassy Knoll, and later looking out the window of the 6th Floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository. Had I not gone to Dallas who knows if I would have figured it out?

Believing in CTs is fun in a lot of ways. You think you're special because you believe you know secrets about how things work. This allows you to think you're smarter and wiser than people who've had the education and the experience to make better assessments. The difference today from CTs of my youth is the internet which allows like-minded people to gather to reinforce their belief systems. I can't imagine where I'd be now, mentally, had the internet been around in 1985.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 01:02 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The attitude Cosmic Yak refers to is not unique to conspiracy theorists. But I now understand Cosmic Yak's point a little better, I think. He's referring specifically and exclusively to the two sides in a conspiracy theory debate, and saying one side is prone to appeals to authority while the other isn't.
Exactly. I have yet to encounter someone being asked why Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet and giving the response, "NDT said it, I believe it, that settles it". If someone did reference the man in answer to said question, it's most likely going to be in the form of citing an actual scientific explanation that he has proffered. In fact, the belief that a popularizer of science, be it NDT, Anthony Fauci, etcetera, is the source of scientific authority is something one is most likely to see among conspiracy theorists who are grossly ignorant of science.

As Cosmic Yak said in the first sentence of the OP, appeals to authority are frequently-occuring among CTs. Just recently we've seen a few of this forum's conspiracy theorists posting long chains of links to one "authority" after another, with all of them turning out to be either utter crack-pots or, less frequently, actual experts who actually say nothing supportive of the CTs claims. These appeals to authority virtually never contain any sort of explanation or summary of the "authority's" argument, nor any indication that the person making the citation has even read the piece to which they've linked.

As I said, I'm sure there are a few people out there who fit the description of "bowing at the feet of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye". But I've spent a lot of time discussing science on the internet, and I can't recall interacting with anyone like that. One the other hand, the behavior that Cosmic Yak mentioned is pretty much standard operating procedure for the vast majority of conspiracy theorists I've engaged with, from Apollo deniers to flat earthers to chemtrail believers to COVID-19 hoax types.
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Old 2nd April 2021, 02:13 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
As Cosmic Yak said in the first sentence of the OP, appeals to authority are frequently-occuring among CTs.
Logical fallacies of all kinds are frequently-occurring among CTs. Given that CTs are irrational to begin with, it would be surprising if they didn't rely heavily on logical fallacies.

Next month we should have a thread about how CTs often feature gish gallops. Then in June, we can do one about CTs and appeals to incredulity, or the so-called "zookeeper fallacy".
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Old 3rd April 2021, 03:37 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Halcyon Dayz View Post
That's a really bad example.

Pluto's lack of planethood is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of definition.
It is the IAU that determines such definitions, Dr. Tyson's opinion is irrelevant.
That is a matter of opinion.
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Old 3rd April 2021, 03:57 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post

As Cosmic Yak said in the first sentence of the OP, appeals to authority are frequently-occuring among CTs. Just recently we've seen a few of this forum's conspiracy theorists posting long chains of links to one "authority" after another, with all of them turning out to be either utter crack-pots or, less frequently, actual experts who actually say nothing supportive of the CTs claims. These appeals to authority virtually never contain any sort of explanation or summary of the "authority's" argument, nor any indication that the person making the citation has even read the piece to which they've linked.

As I said, I'm sure there are a few people out there who fit the description of "bowing at the feet of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye". But I've spent a lot of time discussing science on the internet, and I can't recall interacting with anyone like that. One the other hand, the behavior that Cosmic Yak mentioned is pretty much standard operating procedure for the vast majority of conspiracy theorists I've engaged with, from Apollo deniers to flat earthers to chemtrail believers to COVID-19 hoax types.
Exactly my point.
I do want to add to this, though, because what I see is not an appeal to authority in the strict, logical fallacy sense of the term.
An argument from authority is a logical fallacy if the person cited is not actually qualified in that field. They may well be qualified in something else, but their word alone cannot be taken as authoritative, because it's not based on relevant expertise.
With conspiracy theorists, I think it's different. Here, the appeal is to anyone, whather they are qualified or not.
Piers Corbyn, David Icke, RFK Jr and Alex Jones do not possess, AFAIK, any remotely useful academic qualifications at all. Despite this, their say-so is accepted as gospel truth by their followers, and frequently cited as if this was in some way persuasive evidence.
At the same time, so many CT-ists are trotting out the same weary mantras of 'do your own research', 'question authority', 'think for yourself', when quite clearly they themselves have done no such thing.
(I do get very tired of being told to think for myself by people who all sound exactly the same as each other.)
I find it peculiar that people who style themselves as free-thinking and independent should be so trusting of figureheads, especially figureheads who are not only completely unqualified to be trusted as authorities on anything, but also who are frequently blatantly prejudiced, profit-driven and/or just plain nasty.
This brings me back to the psychological aspect of this. Why do so many CT-ists need a guru?
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Old 3rd April 2021, 09:33 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
An argument from authority is a logical fallacy if the person cited is not actually qualified in that field. They may well be qualified in something else, but their word alone cannot be taken as authoritative, because it's not based on relevant expertise.
It's worth noting that some authors define the appeal-to-authority fallacy as the consideration of authority when the question is purely one of inference or deduction. In that taxonomy it is in the ad hominem family. And it can be more insidious in that case, because the speaker's expertise might apply to the matter under discussion, but the line of reasoning from that's laid out requires only correct reasoning from uncontested fact, and not expert opinion.

Let's pretend that Neil deGrasse Tyson had said, "Since Pluto was demoted to a Kuiper Belt object, enrollment in astronomy programs has dropped. Clearly there's a lot of blowback from the decision." That commits the logical fallacy of mistaking correlation for causation. Tyson may be correct on the enrollment numbers. And his expertise may have enabled him to have that information readily available. But the reasoning employed is incorrect (without additional, unstated data). "But he's a noted astronomer, so he must be right," would be the additional fallacy of appeal to authority. The expertise exists and is somewhat relevant, but the authority of the speaker does not erase the flaw in his reasoning, which is a straightforward error in inference.

Quote:
With conspiracy theorists, I think it's different. Here, the appeal is to anyone, whather they are qualified or not.
I think they recast what it means to be authoritative. We consider someone an authority on a subject when they can, by various means, demonstrate expert knowledge or judgment. Academic and professional qualifications are certainly one way to do that. Recognition by other accepted authorities is another way.

But conspiracy theorists and other fringe claimants tend to treat authority as the virtue of being relatively free from imagined biases or ulterior motives, regardless of what one actually knows. Sure, I could be considered an authority on space engineering and exploration, but I've clearly thrown in with the conventional narrative and so for that reason I cannot be trusted. Someone who has only a layman's understanding, but is not clearly affected by the Establishment or the government or whatever is considered to be a better authority because they are less likely to lie, or more likely to see "plain" truths that more experienced people have been blind to.

In the strangest paradox, some fringe claimants just claim to be better thinkers in one way or another -- e.g., Jabba's "holistic thinking." They believe this automatically makes them more reliable commentators on any subject. Their "authority" is their special insight, unfettered by rote learning or social conditioning.

Which leads us to your conclusion:

Quote:
I find it peculiar that people who style themselves as free-thinking and independent should be so trusting of figureheads, especially figureheads who are not only completely unqualified to be trusted as authorities on anything, but also who are frequently blatantly prejudiced, profit-driven and/or just plain nasty.
It's all about being aligned with the correct faction. Alex Jones is fighting the good fight against Establishment oppression and lies. He fights against people who are not just wrong, but evil. So whatever he says must be true, and you're so much the better person for agreeing with what he says.
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