So you are interested in becoming a conspiracy theorist?

So you want to be a conspiracy theorist? It’s simple and easy, and my one-stop, Ten-step Guide will help you get started. It certainly doesn’t matter what you want to be a conspiracy theorist about. I can help. Let’s get started. We need an example, so let’s just say you want to be a ‘Extrasolar Planet‘ denier. You know, those planets orbiting stars not in our solar system? Well, no one is denying the science behind them, yet, so it’s fertile ground in which to start a conspiracy theory. So where to begin?

(1) First, you should point out that not all scientists agree on data interpretation. You can always find a scientist who will throw doubt on ANY finding. Grab these ‘dissenting view’ guys and gals, and play them up. The ultimate is if you can get the press to feel like they need to give them equal coverage, and split reporters’ attention evenly between you, the ‘truth-seekers,’ and the main-stream scientists, because they have to tell both sides of the story. Even if there is only one side. This is a crack you can open with ease. Talk about, ‘legitimate scientific debate,’ ‘fairness,’ and ‘balancing views.’

(2) Next start early showing how science is always changing. Like here. Show that science is unsteady. Theory is always being ‘turned upside down.’ Now be careful here not to reveal how deeply scientists agree or to what extent they’ve reached a consensus. That can be a disaster for your CT. But statements like this, can be a big boon, “”The new results really challenge the conventional wisdom that planets should always orbit in the same direction as their stars spin,” They changed their minds! Theory was overturned. Use that against them. Great stuff!

And don’t forget to reveal how that astronomy isn’t a science at all, because they can’t do experiments! Show how the smoking gun just isn’t there, because no one has ever seen an extrasolar planet actually forming. Point out that until they can do it in a test tube, it’s not real science. Science as ‘only experiments’ is an indispensable diversion tactic. Use it. Most people don’t know enough about science to counter the claim. It’s a sure winner!

(3) Key in on miss-speak. Like look at these chaps, “In order for this technique to work, the distortions imposed on the incoming light during its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere must be removed using a trick called “wavefront correction.” They used a trick! Tricks mean lies. Lies mean deception. Deception means conspiracy! It’s like taking candy from a baby.

(4) The most important things is to just poke holes in things. Never try to construct a complete story. That’s hard. But, you can always find little things to poke at and cast doubt about. That’s easy. Focus on graphs! Make long lists of things that seem suspect. Great stuff. Don’t fret that you can’t make sense of all the data. No one is going to make you try to construct a coherent story of all the data coming in. That’s not your job. Yours is just to expose the holes in extrasolar planet theory.

(5) Point out that real Ph.D.s are on your side. It doesn’t matter what in. Don’t let people get distracted by ‘what’ field the Ph.D.s are coming from or how their credentials are relevant to the field of extrasolar planetary science. No, any Ph.D. will do. You can always find an engineer or a psychologist who will speak confidently about the problems in astrophysics data and interpretation (But for heavens sake don’t let an engineer or psychologist speak about engineering problems or psychology, that would be a rather freshman Conspiracy Theorist mistake). Try to make lists of Ph.Ds who agree with you. If you have one, play it up–again it doesn’t matter what it’s in.

(6) Play on politics. If you can show that extrasolar plants somehow threaten family values, or show that the other guys (however you define the other guys) embrace some unpopular aspect remotely related to your idea, you are home free. For example, many extrasolar planet articles talk about “stellar evolution” (with its obvious ties to Darwinism) or the “hot gases” of extrasolar planets (obvious ties to Global Warming). Bundle them all into a package. Extrasolar planets=Evolution=Global Warming=Fall of Democracy. Keep them bound tight. Now if you can get a congressman or congresswoman on your side, Woohoo! But, if not, settle for a state legislator–very easy to find one that will support you. Make sure to call astronomy a waste of time and ask things like: “How is that going to help hard working people like me?” or “Why should we pour millions into something that we are not even sure exists?” or “This does not prove anything,” or “There are smart people that interpret the data differently (see #5).”

(7) Next, point out that most extrasolar planet scientists are atheists (whether this is true or not is irrelevant, just say it). Show how they don’t talk about God in their astronomical observations. If you can link this to the fall of civilization so much the better. Chart a course showing how old astronomers like Kepler and Galallao believed in God, and new ones like Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan do not. Make a big deal of this. Make it significant. Blame the science of astronomy on growing trends in atheism. Use real correlation. Of course, wink and say, “Correlation is not causation . . . but even so look at these heathens spouting their atheistic extrasolar planet stuff.”

(8) The most crucial step is to actually make your conspiracy claims. The biggest sign of conspiracy is, of course, agreement. Make a big deal about how the ‘extrasolar cabal’ will not let alternative views in. Claim that the scientific agreement on these distant planets is a sign that it is a conspiracy! What better evidence is there of conspiracy than that the scientists all agree about the extrasolar planet data! This is devilishly hard stuff for the scientists to refute because as they stare at you all deer-eyed and befuddled and say, “but, but . . . ” Then you can point out they don’t have an answer to your charges, and you can cry ‘conspiracy’ more loudly! (Also use lots of exclamation points!!!!! and CAPITALS. It shows you are serious and know what you are taking about).

(9) Now once you are on Step 8, you are ready for an Internet site. This is the most effective way to communicate your ‘revelations.’ Others will join you. If you have any credentials use them. Link to other anti-extrasolar planet sites and get the chatter going. Downplay peer review. Of course, the astrophysics crowd is going to call you nutty, and point out you don’t have any real scientific data, but this is where you want them, and the conspiracy theory can get played to its most damning effect. The fact that there is no peer review, becomes evidence that it’s a conspiracy! Duh! Brilliant stuff here. Stoke the fire. Get people posting on it. If you can get a famous actor involved, do it. It’s not credibility that matters for a good CT, it’s popularity (If they’ve played a smart person on the big screen it’s a help).

(10) Lastly, keep making noise. Start institutes for the study of things like So Called Extrasolar Planets (e.g., ISoSCEP pronounced ‘Is suspect’). Get people of power involved. Demand investigations into Astronomy labs. Keep hammering. Don’t let up.

Now you are ready to start a conspiracy theory on anything. Good luck! And remember: EXTRASOLAR PLANETS DO NOT EXIST!!!!!! DO NOT LET THE ATHEIST SCIENTISTS BAMBOZZLE YOU WITH THEIR SO-CALLED ‘DATA!’ THE EXTRASOLAR PLANET HOAX IS A WASTE OF MONEY.

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28 comments to So you are interested in becoming a conspiracy theorist?

  • Tim

    Pure genius.

  • Gustav375

    It’s funny because it’s true!

  • Stan

    I’ve always wondered what it would have been like if relativity had conflicted with religious, cultural or economic belief. Fortunately, it’s so far out of everyday experience as to not be a threat. Sometimes when discussing global warming or evolution, I use relativity as an example of most people accepting a theory with far less (but no less compelling) evidence. I mean, where are the gravity waves? Nobody screams about relativity being “just a theory” because it doesn’t threaten any preconceived notions.

  • Great post! Very funny, very well thought out, and yes, sadly, so true.

    Just coincidentally had a run-in with Step #5. :-)

    It was with Dave Collingridge on his CT blog, MormonsandScience (http://www.mormonsandscience.com/1/post/2010/04/john-a-widtsoe-and-i-agree-on-evolution.html). He deleted two of my posts, I guess because they made too much sense. He’s also moderating my comments now.

  • Dusty, I’ll let you and Dave fight it out there. I support his right to moderate as he wills. I do the same here. It’s too bad people looking for science go there. But you don’t have to read many of his posts to see what he’s about.

  • The fact that conspiracy theories are so successful at gaining converts is truly alarming. I am simply amazed at what some people are willing to believe. On the other hand, it can be very tempting to exaggerate the certainty of one’s own position and marginalize those who disagree by comparing them to conspiracy theorists. That’s the other side of the coin, I think, and there’s too much of both.

  • Aaron Brown

    Thanks for the fancy schmancy post, Steve P, but the fact remains that there are Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon who were part of a real conspiracy. So conspiracies are real, ergo, any conspiracy theory that sounds plausible to me must also be real.

  • Understood.

    Again, enjoyed your post. This one is spot on.

  • I would add that the more negative arguments you make, the better. And the best part is this: They don’t even have to be compatible with each other!

    Example:

    1. A better analysis of the data shows that extra-solar planets are actually a manifestation of problems with the theory of relativity.

    2. The existence of extra solar planets is based on inference and will never be as firmly established as relativity.

    3. Extra-solar planets are really dead stars.

    4. The scientists manipulated their data to get what they wanted to see.

    Also, I would change “atheist scientist” to “elitist radical liberal democrat marxist socialist atheist scientist.”

  • Also, I would change “atheist scientist” to “elitist radical liberal democrat marxist socialist atheist scientist.”

    Right, because obviously there are no liberal democrats who subscribe to conspiracy theories.

  • Jack

    And for Pete’s sake make sure you compare older predictions with current ones. And then show how developing policy based on such incongruous results — that would tax the public by trillions of dollars — would be an amazingly asinine thing to do.

  • The Book of Mormon isn’t true if we follow the standards of “protecting against Conspiracy theorists” set out in this post. Since I am not beholden to “Science” and “Scientists” in my beliefs both secular and religious, then I don’t find a problem with any of the above approaches to finding truth. To me it is more a matter of “what is convincing” than “what do the latest scientific theories as set out by elitist scientists, philosophers, and other educated know it alls” say. They are important and valuable, but not the final word for me. There is too much wonder and amazement in existence to be stuck in such a small-minded world view.

  • Steve,

    Nice lighthearted post.

    BTW, for completion sake, you forgot to provide a link to my site after you wrote: “You can always find an engineer or a psychologist who will speak confidently about the problems in astrophysics data and interpretation.”

    Ciao!

  • Peter

    Certainly the tongue in cheek works. It’s faulty to be sure, assumes stupidity on those that believe the scientific community or let’s put it in a way, the “business of science” is flawed. So let’s answer sarcasm for sarcasm. Of course it’s not. It’s absurd to believe that 700 scientists have some doubt with aspects of man-made global warming. We know they’re bought and paid for. Follow the money. Of course global warming scientists aren’t bought and paid for. They’re pure. There is no inherent business or political positioning to be built on it. No cap and trade. No global tax. Those are all lies from stupid guys with internet sites. If you want to know truth, you have to read Time Magazine or the New York Times and believe real scientists at Ivy League schools. It’s absurd to think they get grants and funding from leftwing dominated foundations that have an interest in the results of said studies. We know scientists don’t change abstracts to fit in order to tow the line even if their body of data says the opposite. Peer review stops all of this. Hmmm. or possibly it enhances it, but then I stop being sarcastic and point out that your post is very simplistic and quite enamored with your faith in the politics and business of science. I’m sure since you read all of those peer reviewed journal entries and don’t get it yourself through your own media filters and biases that your foundation of why anyone would think there are conspiracies is sound logic come into view by illustrating an example of their absurd illogic.

    It mostly comes across as a whiff of elitism. Try arguing the facts next time and see where it gets you.

  • Tim

    Steve,
    I think Peter just gave you another step. Maybe we could call it the “claim scientists are being paid off and are all conspiring together” step? Maybe it belongs as part of Step 8.

  • Tim

    #12,
    Notice how “leftwing” and “elitist” have already been used in these comments.
    True, some liberals engage in scientific conspiracy theories (the anti-vaccine movement, for example). However, as far as I know, they don’t refer to their imagined conspiracy as a “rightwing” or “conservative” conspiracy.

    I just love how these comments prove SteveP’s point.

  • David H Bailey

    Good post, Steve. I am reminded of Ben Franklin’s quip (from Poor Richard’s Almanac): “Three can keep a secret, provided two of them are dead.”

    Along this line, I once quipped, in response to a Utah state legislator who was skeptical of evolution and suggested a conspiracy:

    “You have no idea how humiliating this is to me — there is a secret conspiracy among leading scientists, but no one deemed me important enough to be included!”

  • raedyohed

    I liked #6. Is that sorta like how global warming skeptics = holocaust deniers? This is all fair and funny stuff, but it cuts both ways.

    All in all these are not specific tactics to “conspiracy theorists”, and I’m happy to see even just a tongue-in-cheek discussion of these modes of thinking/argumentation so I can try that much harder to avoid them myself. Heaven knows I’ve seen plenty of it right here inside the Academy.

  • brettw

    I went to the community center to attend the Conspiracy Theorists meeting, but when I asked which room it was in EVERYONE acted like they didn’t know what I was talking about! Humm, seems a little fishy to me…

  • David

    To me it is more a matter of “what is convincing” than “what do the latest scientific theories as set out by elitist scientists, philosophers, and other educated know it alls” say.

    Jettboy has nailed it! The real problem is that the “know it alls” need to learn how to be convincing. More appeals to emotion, more playing on fears, more righteous indignation, more use of quotations when describing “scientists” and “science”, as though there is real science being practiced somewhere by someone.

  • Jack

    “I just love how these comments prove SteveP’s point.”

    Sounds like a bit of goofy psycho-analysis. Shove a piece of crap in someone’s face and then claim “denial” when they recoil.

  • Yes, many ‘believers’ in extrasolar planets will find this ‘crap.’

  • David H Bailey

    Those who dismiss any scientific evidence that comes via instrumentation or computation would do, or who insist that only “eyewitness” testimony is reliable, are invited to view the video at this website:

    http://viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/flashmovie/15.php

    I’ll discuss it in a separate post (no cheating please).

  • David H Bailey

    P.S. The objective of the above video is to count the number of times a basketball is passed from one person to another. Be sure you don’t miss any!

  • David H Bailey

    Discussion (please look at the video first):

    In this video, there is a “surprise” — for several seconds a person in a gorilla suit strolls through the group of students, turns to the camera, thumps his chest, and then exits. Incredibly, the majority of subjects watching the video failed to notice! In other words, it is not at all clear that being an unassisted “eyewitness” is a significant advantage in scientific research — scientific instruments and computers are much more reliable.

    Several other similar demonstrations are available here:
    http://viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/djs_lab/demos.html

  • Jack

    Take whatever analogical route you want with that video. If the majority of folks don’t see the gorilla the first time then perhaps it means we should be a little leery about jumping on board with the consensus right at the get-go.

    Yeah, I saw the guy in the suit the first time I saw it — last year.

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