I know I’ve devoted a fair number of posts over the last couple years to conspiracy theories. Honestly, it’s because I was so astonished to see how relatively intelligent people could be so easily and so quickly hoodwinked by not-brilliant people into believing not-brilliant ideas. Ever since that experience I periodically find myself reflecting on it and trying to make sense of it. I’m taking a class this semester that’s relevant to these questions so I’m sure that will inspire me to continue ruminating on them in the coming months.
One question that I never asked anyone, which I wish I would have, was: are you aware of the very obvious objection to what you’re saying?
There are several points at which it would have been reasonable to ask the question. In fact, I can’t think of a single point I heard where this couldn’t have been asked at least once, and maybe several times.
But the main one that comes to mind is the first one I heard, which I continued to hear for as long as there were people trying to convince me that the scientists and governments of the world were lying to us about the pandemic. “The average age of covid deaths is the same as the average age of deaths in the population overall, which means there are no extra people dying, you see?”
Over and over again I tried to explain to people how this made no sense, which opened the door to them bridging off into ever more obscure lines of argumentation. Trying to explain the gigantic flaw underlying the entire theory got me nowhere, over and over again. A dispiriting situation.
In hindsight, I wonder what would have happened if I would have instead just asked them to explain to me what the obvious flaw is with the line of reasoning they seemed to be presenting.
When a person says, A therefore B, without seeming to recognize that A doesn’t actually necessitate B in any way, there is something wrong. If the person can’t recognize that something is out of whack, and can’t admit that something might be, and has no interest in learning if something is, then there’s no point in continuing the conversation. It’s much better to find that out at the start of the venture than to realize it at some much later point in time, let me assure you.