You Are Not So Smart podcast 016: Conspiracy Theories


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So tired of hearing this online. Time for new ad copy SS.

I can’t listen to a podcast right now, but I am interested in the recipe for those cookies.

Well this is certainly a surprising turn-up…“All the evidence proves that Oswald acted alone.” Points for boldness if for nothing else. I feel like Terence Stamp in Legal Eagles when Robert Redford asks to see the back of a painting: “How refreshing. Most of my clients prefer to see the front.” No disrespect to neurologist Steven Novella, but is his thesis really that conspiracies exist only in the mind?

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Conspiracy theories are like religion. They have no bases in real world facts and they exist to comfort the minds of people with certain psychological profiles and world views. Sorry if that applies to you. I’m sure they seem so real.

And conversely, you have people like the gentlemen from this podcast who, much like the church, want to establish clearly defined boundaries about our reality.

Sometimes conspiracies do happen. But at the point where you’re imagining vast conspiracies behind damn near everything, conspiracies that involve casts of hundreds if not thousands, and have decided that any evidence debunking the conspiracy must (by definition) be part of the conspiracy … well, there’s a problem.

It’s important to have a healthy sense of cynicism. But the emphasis is on the “healthy”.

I really LOVE and respect Dr. Novella…I’ve listened to The Skeptics’ Guide podcast almost since it’s inception and I can truly admit that it has changed my life. He’s right, there’s a HUGE difference between a skeptic and cynic. Conspiracy theorists take one small anomaly and exploit it to their advantage…Tragedies are noisy, messy, chaotic, and have TOO MANY moving parts; conspiracy theorists need to understand that. They have no idea how the gub’mint attached hundreds of tons of thermite to the framework of the twin towers, but they are CERTAIN it was planted there. Never mind those building were occupied by thousands of people that NEVER WITNESSED a single individual that looked suspicious…

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