Here I wrote about my skepticism of the Sandy Hook skepticism. Now, I want to make an additional remark and give to you, (not written by me) ten characteristics of conspiracy theorists. Basically, a psychological profile of what conspiracy theorists are generally like.
For the argument: If the Sandy Hook incident was indeed a grand sham, it would be impossible to conduct, given the infinite amount of people that would have to partake of it. The conspiracy theorists argue that this was nothing more than a mini-Hollywood movie. Listen Charlie, this didn’t take place in some remote area, with people whose names can be changed on a whim; this occurred in a REAL American school, in a REAL American city. The school would have had to explain to the teachers, families, staff, local police, local firefighters, and anyone else who lived anywhere near that area (or even farther given the sensitive law enforcement scenario) that such an incident would take place on school grounds, and that they would have to keep their mouths shut or else. The community who knew the children, the families who knew the families involved and the children, friends who knew the families (and possibly the friends who knew them), the co-workers of the families involved, the churches who knew the families involved, would all have to be in on it as well (or the original families would have had to create this master plan where funerals are non existent, they send the children to some Russian border school, and for some reason or another, people stop being people, and never confess to anyone). They would have to for some reason or another, lie to their friends and the world. And we believe that there hasn’t been a peep out of anyone who actually knows them or the community?
Or, lets say that these people are indeed actors. Their families would have to keep this a secret. Their friends, families, co-workers, and all the people that they’ve ever met, would have to keep silent on who they really are. Furthermore, the community would also have to lie about the existence of these people, the names that were released, would have had to been made up. And oh, if they were indeed all actors, the community and surrounding communities would have had to be controlled with an iron fist, so no questions are ultimately asked, or visits are made.
This my friend, leads to a massive conspiracy, not known by only Obama and his cronies, but by hundreds if not thousands of individuals.
As for the characteristics, here they are:
(sorry about the funky background color of the text)
1. Arrogance. They are always fact-seekers, questioners, people who are trying to discover the truth: sceptics are always “sheep”, patsies for Messrs Bush and Blair etc.
2. Relentlessness. They will always go on and on about a conspiracy no matter how little evidence they have to go on or how much of what they have is simply discredited. (Moreover, as per 1. above, even if you listen to them ninety-eight times, the ninety-ninth time, when you say “no thanks”, you’ll be called a “sheep” again.) Additionally, they have no capacity for precis whatsoever. They go on and on at enormous length.
3. Inability to answer questions. For people who loudly advertise their determination to the principle of questioning everything, they’re pretty poor at answering direct questions from sceptics about the claims that they make.
4. Fondness for certain stock phrases. These include Cicero‘s “cui bono?” (of which it can be said that Cicero understood the importance of having evidence to back it up) and Conan Doyle’s “once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth”. What these phrases have in common is that they are attempts to absolve themselves from any responsibility to produce positive, hard evidence themselves: you simply “eliminate the impossible” (i.e. say the official account can’t stand scrutiny) which means that the wild allegation of your choice, based on “cui bono?” (which is always the government) is therefore the truth.
5. Inability to employ or understand Occam’s Razor. Aided by the principle in 4. above, conspiracy theorists never notice that the small inconsistencies in the accounts which they reject are dwarfed by the enormous, gaping holes in logic, likelihood and evidence in any alternative account.
6. Inability to tell good evidence from bad. Conspiracy theorists have no place for peer-review, for scientific knowledge, for the respectability of sources. The fact that a claim has been made by anybody, anywhere, is enough for them to reproduce it and demand that the questions it raises be answered, as if intellectual enquiry were a matter of responding to every rumour. While they do this, of course, they will claim to have “open minds” and abuse the sceptics for apparently lacking same.
7. Inability to withdraw. It’s a rare day indeed when a conspiracy theorist admits that a claim they have made has turned out to be withoutfoundation, whether it be the overall claim itself or any of the evidence produced to support it. Moreover they have a liking (see 3. above) for the technique of avoiding discussion of their claims by “swamping” – piling on a whole lot more material rather than respond to the objections sceptics make to the previous lot.
8. Leaping to conclusions. Conspiracy theorists are very keen indeed to declare the “official” account totally discredited without having remotely enough cause so to do. Of course this enables them to wheel on the Conan Doyle quote as in 4. above. Small inconsistencies in the account of an event, small unanswered questions, small problems in timing of differences in procedure from previous events of the same kind are all more than adequate to declare the “official” account clearly and definitively discredited. It goes without saying that it is not necessary to prove that these inconsistencies are either relevant, or that they even definitely exist.
9. Using previous conspiracies as evidence to support their claims. This argument invokes scandals like the Birmingham Six, the Bologna station bombings, the Zinoviev letter and so on in order to try and demonstrate that their conspiracy theory should be accorded some weight (because it’s “happened before”.) They do not pause to reflect that the conspiracies they are touting are almost always far more unlikely and complicated than the real-life conspiracies with which they make comparison, or that the fact that something might potentially happen does not, in and of itself, make it anything other than extremely unlikely.
10. It’s always a conspiracy. And it is, isn’t it? No sooner has the body been discovered, the bomb gone off, than the same people are producing the same old stuff, demanding that there are questions which need to be answered, at the same unbearable length. Because the most important thing about these people is that they are people entirely lacking in discrimination. They cannot tell a good theory from a bad one, they cannot tell good evidence from bad evidence and they cannot tell a good source from a bad one. And for that reason, they always come up with the same answer when they ask the same question.