Skeptic's fatigue

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Skeptic's fatigue

Postby DjVortex » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:51 am

One of the most common tactics used by conspiracy theorists, all types of denialists, creationists and other such people is the shotgun argumentation: They amass huge amounts of arguments and "evidence" of a hoax (or whatever). It doesn't matter how small or ridiculous the argument might be, everything goes. The important thing is the sheer amount of them. Quantity over quality.

Does anyone else sometimes get a feeling of being overwhelmed by this rapid-fire of argument after argument after argument? For example, just write "911" or "moon hoax" into youtube and you will get hundreds and hundreds of conspiracy theory videos. Many repeat all the same old tired arguments, some present "clever" new arguments, but they are just so many that it's like an avalanche. (In gaming parlance this could be compared to the concept of "zerg rush".)

One quickly develops a kind of "skeptic's fatigue": In other words, one gets tired of this enormous flood of stupidity, and stops caring. Whenever a new video or web page promoting some conspiracy theory, denialism or creationism comes up while surfing the internet, the fatigued skeptic just skips it. "Argh, yet another one of those. Who cares? Not me, that's for sure." (It certainly doesn't help that some of those videos are like 2 hours long, and full of stupid from beginning to end.)

It doesn't matter how much the claims are debunked. For each debunked claim 10 new ones are crafted up. It's like the Hydra.

I fear that because of this, many of the claims go unchallenged and unexplained. This, of course, is taken as a sign that the claim has no explanation (other than it being a sign of a hoax).
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Postby DukeTwicep » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:26 pm

My approach, because I too don't have the time to look through their arguments or 1-3 hour long videos, is to ask the person who makes the claims to sum up his arguments in a concise manner and then I ask him: How come the majority of the people involved in this think in the opposite way? Do you have some info they have not? Or do you have some expertise that they lack?

If he cannot do the former, then he is clearly void of intellect. If he cannot answer the latter in a non-dodging way, then his arguments are dismissed. I guess it's an amateur's approach to idiotic amateurs. You don't have to go through everything, you just have to show that the person is biased in some way to dismiss everything he says. This would not be OK in formal debates as it's a logical fallacy to assume everything is wrong just because the person is biased, but it's still used a lot in media, for good or evil.

You could say that, after a few times crying wolf - people will stop believing the various arguments of this person. You have to earn respect to be respected.

Either that or you can search the person's former videos/comments and quote him, showing that he has an angle. So it's generally easier to debunk a person than the person's arguments, and saves you a lot of time.
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Postby eimerian » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:47 am

I guess it depends on the context:

In a private discussion in RL or online just end the discussion. This person clearly is not interested in talking about this topic but instead wants to preach his point of view.

If you have an audience you can use his/her dishonesty against your opponent. "Notice how my opponent changed the topic AGAIN."
"Notice how my opponent just evaded my question."
"Notice how I just demonstrated that my opponent was wrong and he failed to acknowledge that." "Notice how in a previous discussion my opponent acknowledged this point, but now it seems like someone pushed the reset button and he makes the same claim again." and so on...
Jesus saves.
Do not remove memory card, controller, or reset/switch off the console.
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