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Conspiracy

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Understanding Science
6. Conspiracy Theories
© Colin Frayn,2012www.frayn.net
Introduction
What is a conspiracy theory?Restricted knowledgePowerful forcesCover-up / secrecySignificant implicationsMost people are completely unawareHistoryLargely a modern inventionFuelled by the Internet
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
Psychological Components
ParanoiaFalse perception of persecutionAnxietyDelusionsConfirmation biasSeeing evidence everywhereAgency detectionFear of lack of controlRandom events arefrighteningDesire for self worthMeaning and purposeSense of superiority / heroism
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
ImmanuelVelikovsky
10thJune 1895 – 17thNovember 1979First grand-scale conspiracy theoristHis theories:Explaining Biblical storiesInvokingreal-world catastrophesEarth was once a satellite of SaturnVenus was ejected from JupiterClose contacts with MarsVigorously attacked by scientific communityThis aroused suspicion and increased his supportCarl Sagan was a staunch opponentBut urged restraint from scientists
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
The Moon Hoax Theory
The prototype conspiracy theoryClaim:The 1969 Moon Landing was a hoaxIt was filmed in a studioPutting a man on the moon is impossibleUp to 20% of Americans believe this!Fox TV Documentary “Did We Land on the Moon?”The claim is utterly absurd:Thousands of people involvedScience is entirely feasibleSoviets were close too (and accepted NASA won)
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
More Conspiracies
Historical ConspiraciesHolocaust denialNew World Order9/11 ConspiracyShadowy Elite / Freemasons / ZionistsSymbologyAliensCover-up of findsInfiltrating governmentAssassinationsPrincess DianaThe Kennedy FamilyMedicineAIDS and other diseasesFluoridationVaccination
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
Col’s Law of Conspiracy Theories
All Conspiracy Theories are Wrong!Conspiracies are not plausibleIndividual scientific implausibilityLarge-scale cover-upConspiracy theories and unfalsifiableEvidence against = evidence for!Self-confirming and impossible to refuteNo conspiracy theory has ever been proven truePsychological causes are strong
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
Conspiracy Evidence
Conspiracy theories arecomplexAll the obvious flaws have “explanations”Usinga subset of available evidence…and a fair bit of falsehoodStories are more seductive than dataAnomaly huntingOften false anomaliesLack of perspectiveEmotional rejection of contrary evidence
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net
Summary
Conspiracy theories are seductiveSubset of the informationConfident lies and misinformationExtremely detailedInherently immune to disproofThink about both sidesWhat else would the conspiracy imply?Get both sides of the debateAll conspiracy theories are wrong
© Colin Frayn, 2012www.frayn.net

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Conspiracy