Hold yourself to a common standard

I’m back to the topic of an ideal conversation with a conspiracy theorist. Sorry.

One rule that would be good to establish at the outset of such a conversation is the commitment for each participant to hold to a common standard.

I’m not saying that the two should share a common standard, though I know that might be the obvious way to read what I said. What I mean is merely that each participant ought to commit to avoiding the use of double standards in evaluating arguments.

Obviously it would be fantastic if the two sides could agree on a common standard of evidence and argumentation, and in a lot of debates that might indeed be required for the possibility of a resolution of any sort. For a discussion with a conspiracy theorist, however, even this minimal commitment should be more than enough to give a very decisive advantage to the person who is not a conspiracy theorist.

“But don’t you think it’s possible that leftists or undercover federal operatives infiltrated the crowd and are responsible for all the bad things that my side supposedly did?” Well, I think it could be possible, but if “possible” is all it takes for you to be convinced that something happened, let’s remember it’s also entirely possible that no such infiltration took place.

“But there are scientists with plenty of detailed arguments about why the virus isn’t dangerous and why the vaccine is killing people.” Sure. But if scientists and arguments are what impress you, then no doubt you will be completely overawed by the much greater number of scientists and peer-reviewed scientific publications arguing that the virus is not harmless and the vaccine is comparatively and convincingly far more beneficial than it is risky.

“But there are drug companies that stand to profit, and politicians who benefit, and lots of public figures who are worried about their reputations, so you can’t trust the people on that side of the argument.” Okay. But then we can’t trust your side either, where there are people selling ineffective and overpriced supplements for great profits, where politicians are doing huge fundraising and getting decisive advantages in primary races by winking to the conspiratorially minded, and where loads of public personalities could not speak out against the conspiracies without being abandoned and even threatened with harm to themselves and their families by the audiences they depend on – right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *