Conspiracy Theories Fail Ad Test – 2


Lance Lawton, a recently retired Anglican minister who blogs at full of grace and truth examined the ideas that fuel conspiracy theories and found them insufficient. He scrutinizes the divide between social media and the truth. and discovers five false premises.

Part 1 of this essay is here.

Part 2


Premise # 4: If there is a large body of information supporting a social trend, phenomenon or plot, and a large community some
of his reality, then there must be something in him.

Maybe a reasonable deduction before the digital age? But the internet keeps eight billion humans drowned in information, and the tide doesn’t stop. The net is full of conflicting claims about what is true and real in the world. Some can be harmonized, but many cannot. Some sets of statements cannot be true at the same time. It is possible that one is true or none is. It is not possible that both (or all) are true.

This phenomenon operates on several levels. Everything from who or what supposedly controls the world to a person’s claims on themselves or their neighbor (e.g. academic or professional expertise).

The task of the shocked investigator is then to decide which set of statements and beliefs are true and which are not. It can be very difficult to do, and even more difficult to do correctly. Just as most criminals look like you, me and the next door neighbor in real life, most people who publish lies on the internet seem as honest and sincere as your grandfather, sister or your best friend. And centuries of mechanical news and news media provided by a few professionals have conditioned us to believe that at least 95% of what is reported is true. There are only a number of lies which can only be spread to a certain extent when delivered by only a few messengers who are responsible. It’s nobody’s fault, it turns out the pre-digital days have poorly prepared us for the new era of online news and information, in which anyone with a Twitter account can pass for an expert. and consider himself as such.

Usually when two beliefs or belief systems are in conflict, especially on the Internet – The two competing “truths” claim to be true with the same passion, eloquence, assumed authority, internal consistency, and apparent credibility. Both can rank well in search engines. And both of them have a huge following, including a lot of really smart people. Since the two are in conflict, neither of these qualities can necessarily resolve the issue. Maybe they could once reasonably? But in the digital age in particular, it is entirely possible to be all of this and yet be innocently deceived or willfully deceived.

For example, many of Covid’s popular “antivax” or “skeptical” beliefs are internally consistent and therefore compelling. But sincere, consistent and convincing does not equal proven. They are generally based on some or all of the premises discussed here.

It is precisely for these reasons that the last decade has seen a proliferation of websites and fact-checking services. Like any genre, they vary in quality, but there are several excellent and well-established ones. (And don’t forget Wikipedia, for that matter). The habit of verifying claims online by searching one or more of these sites, or even just directly in a Google search box (include the words “fact check”) [1], is a wise man to develop.

Of course, fact-checking faces the same challenges as any other information online. If someone is suspicious of all the statements they disagree with, they will easily dismiss the fact-checking itself as “biased” or “false.” This happens often. But that shouldn’t bother the rest of us.

Dead end n ° 4: More information does not equal more truth or more facts


Premise # 5: It is a practical possibility and a reality that some disturbing truths are suppressed on a large scale, even globally, by the whole of
the world’s mainstream media, publishers and journalists, across all nations, political systems, prejudices and alliances.

Is there any “outside” information (internet, social media, etc.) that is rarely or never reported or covered in the mainstream media? Yes indeed; and on a bulky scale. Does this silence constitute blindness, censorship or suppression? Well, in principle it could be one or more of those, at least in some cases. But this can only be so if the material never published is both true and provable. If it is not the first, as it may not be (see all of the above), then “silent” journalists are doing as they should protect democracy, even if some are convinced otherwise. In simpler terms, being on the internet and widely recognized doesn’t make a thing true (again, see above). In fact, it would be prudent at least not to take his truth for granted.

Second, whether or not this is true in reality, if it is not provable, other constraints on professional media come into play. For example, we have civil legal protections to discourage the publication of false or false allegations. not provable about a person or a collective. Journalists and editors face destructive fines for their careers or profits if they or their expensive lawyers fail to persuade a judge or jury that the unflattering material they published was the truth.[2]. In contrast, an anonymous 16-year-old blogger and aspiring “investigative journalist”[3] with 100,000 Twitter followers looking at Google and YouTube in their parents’ garage, is both free from work coercion and highly unlikely to have his laptop seized by federal police during a 4 a.m. raid in the morning. (And if that happens, there’s a good chance Dad will pay the fine). Neither care nor responsibility, in other words. This modus operandi does not make them a soldier for the cause of truth, although many people believe them.

I have had several conversations about this. By way of illustration, a common exchange goes something in the following direction (although generally more nuanced and much longer)…

‘Jack'[4]: MSM have a lot to answer for how they suppress the truth.

Spear: It’s interesting, Jack. Can you give me an example?

‘Jack’: Sure! Where do I start !? Um… well, you never saw any mention on ABC or even Sky News of how the US government orchestrated 9/11, did you?

Spear: No, I guess not. But tell me, how do you know it’s true?

‘Jack’: How can I know?! Well, everyone knows that. And anyway, the “lamestream” media never reports it. What other proof would you need?


In other words, with the greatest respect for those who have come to think that there is a whole body of truth that the “media” does not want us to hear, almost every conversation I have had or listened to about “” the mainstream media that hide the truth have had this kind of circular reasoning about them. The fact that it’s all over the internet and never in the media proves that the media is hiding it from us, and the fact that it is not in the media proves that it is true. Circular reasoning.

Dead end n ° 5: Repression is not the most likely explanation for the lack of media coverage.


What I tried to do was outline five premises that are increasingly being adopted largely uncritically as factual representations of the political form of life in our world. They portend an ever-growing division and mistrust, which should concern us all. I contend that none of the Local Five stands up to scrutiny (or that they “don’t pass the pub test,” to borrow a currently popular Australian idiom). And my “five dead ends” are an attempt to capture this concisely.

Finally, I want to clarify that, according to my assessment, the clear majority of people who accept all or part of the premises are neither bad, nor stupid, nor “missed”. Rather, they are sincere, thoughtful and responsible citizens who, out of their sincere concern for the world, its people, their friends and relatives, have found something persuasive in these premises that resonates in some way or direction. another one. How and why this is so, I suspect is another important topic, and probably well beyond my level of pay. Anyway, I think they have been misled and I would like them to be freed from what is the real tyranny of our time. But neither their authenticity nor their intelligence is in doubt for me.

Lance Lawton


1 This can be especially useful after meeting with a claimed or professing scientific authority, particularly if the account includes a complaint that they are being ignored or “silenced.” Chances are they will be ignored because they are not, in fact, the expert they claim to be. Fact-checking will usually eliminate them.


3 Social networks are full of them!

4 Random common name for illustration purposes only


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