1. Initiated on the basis of limited, partial or circumstantial evidence; Conceived in reaction to media reports and images, as opposed to, for example, thorough knowledge of the relevant forensic evidence.
2. Addresses an event or process that has broad historical or emotional impact; Seeks to interpret a phenomenon which has near-universal interest and emotional significance, a story that may thus be of some compelling interest to a wide audience.
3. Reduces morally complex social phenomena to simple, immoral actions; Impersonal, institutional processes, especially errors and oversights, interpreted as malign, consciously intended and designed by immoral individuals.
4. Personifies complex social phenomena as powerful individual conspirators; Related to (3) but distinct from it, deduces the existence of powerful individual conspirators from the ‘impossibility’ that a chain of events lacked direction by a person.
5. Allots superhuman talents or resources to conspirators; May require conspirators to possess unique discipline, unrepentant resolve, advanced or unknown technology, uncommon psychological insight, historical foresight, unlimited resources, etc.
6. Key steps in argument rely on inductive, not deductive reasoning; Inductive steps are mistaken to bear as much confidence as deductive ones.
Appeals to ‘common sense’; Common sense steps substitute for the more robust, academically respectable methodologies available for investigating sociological and scientific phenomena.
7. Exhibits well-established logical and methodological fallacies; Formal and informal logical fallacies are readily identifiable among the key steps of the argument.
8. Is produced and circulated by ‘outsiders’, often anonymous, and generally lacking peer review; Story originates with a person who lacks any insider contact or knowledge, and enjoys popularity among persons who lack critical (especially technical) knowledge.
9. Is upheld by persons with demonstrably false conceptions of relevant science; At least some of the story’s believers believe it on the basis of a mistaken grasp of elementary scientific facts.
10. Enjoys zero credibility in expert communities; Academics and professionals tend to ignore the story, treating it as too frivolous to invest their time and risk their personal authority in disproving.
11. Rebuttals provided by experts are ignored or accommodated through elaborate new twists in the narrative; When experts do respond to the story with critical new evidence, the conspiracy is elaborated (sometimes to a spectacular degree) to discount the new evidence, often incorporating the rebuttal as a part of the conspiracy.’
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It’s time for another episode of the Bitchspot Quickies. This time, I take a moment to talk about emotion getting in the way of logical, rational evaluation of evidence and how, while emotion may be important, it’s usually a hindrance when it comes to making real, critical decisions.
The Bitchspot Report is a weekly podcast focused on atheism, conservatism and skepticism. We release the audio version of our podcast at 9am Friday morning. We also have a YouTube version which we have up some time on Friday as well. You can also find our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Player.FM and we have a page on Google+ and Facebook.