Sunday, 6 September 2015

Conspiracy Ideation - why fake skeptics have it but don't get it

I've just joined twitter (@fragmeister12) in the last week.  I know I shouldn't but it has made me reach for the blood pressure pills even though I am keeping mostly to the rational end of the gene pool.  But it didn't take me long to get blocked by one Lonny Eachus, whoever he is.

Actually he seems to be a computer programmer with a thing about conspiracy theories.  I am not sure what it is but he pops up with a splenetic set of comments at this scienceblogs article.  As a result, he shouts for evidence and denies that Lewandowsky has a point, so far as I can tell (I bet he crops up in the comments below but we'll wait and see).

He does seem keen on commenting, if not tweeting.  Here he crops up (under the name Olaf) on Quark Soup, making himself look totally foolish and an outright greenhouse effect denier.  David Appell has, in my opinion and, I suspect, of a great many others, a bit better handle on climate change than Eachus does.

One of his false problems with Lewandowsky is that the idea of conspiracy ideation is not properly defined.  So I linked to the relevant Lewandowsky paper which contains a definition.  Oh, well.  I can't help it if Eachus can't read, or can't be bothered to read.  I also linked to an earlier paper that explains what we're talking about.  This one is that one, it's better.  Here's a definition:

conspiracist ideation is usually described as a belief in the existence of a ‘vast, insidious, preternaturally effective international conspiratorial network designed to perpetrate acts of the most fiendish character’
(Hofstadter, 1966, p. 14).
What's not to understand? 

Well, here's another article with another definition:

belief in conspiracy theories (which I will term “conspiracy ideation”)
 It's been said ad nauseam that almost every time a climate denier comments, a conspiracy is invoked.  Recall Monckton and his endless cries of fraud.  Booker and his endless cries of foul.  ClimateGates 1, 2 and 3 (or damp, damper and dampest squibs).  If deniers cannot overturn the science, they go for the conspiracy argument, not that it really amounts to an argument but their opinion.

The reason why LOG13 became such a hot potato was not because it contained anything particularly controversial but because some of the people who read it didn't like the obvious.  I've talked about conspiracy theories here before.  I know people who accept them, follow them, repeat them and are totally firm in their belief in them.  And they do accept a whole bunch of these "theories", not just one. 

I have some suggestions for people who think they might be stuck in a conspiracy ideation.  It isn't rocket science, as my old mate Lonny would say.  It is really simple.  The suggestions are these:

1. Read some books, papers, articles or watch some TV programmes by people outside of the ones that repeat what you already know.  Most people get interested in a subject by reading a newspaper or magazine story or seeing something on the TV.  They graduate to books about the subject without exploring whether the story is true or not.  This isn't unusual because most people don't have the time to do much about it.  But that's not an excuse if you close your ears when people point out when you are wrong.  Experts are not experts for no reason.  And it isn't enough to call yourself an expert.  That's something others will decide.

2. Er, that's it.

For more on Recurrent Fury, go to

P.S.  Lonny said I wasn't who I pretended I was.  I am not sure who I am pretending to be but if I am not a cat then Eli is not a rabbit.  Just saying. 

PPS Lonny defends Steyn in a non-review at

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