The new and improved conspiracy challenge

I read once that the best way to converse with a conspiracy theorist is to challenge them to provide their best argument.

The reason why this is supposed to be effective is because if you just show why every argument and every piece of evidence is wrong, as they present them to you, you will never reach the end of it, and the conspiracy theorists will never doubt their conspiracy theory. They have endless oodles of bad arguments and evidence because that’s what they spend all their spare time researching. You will never be able to disprove it all, and it doesn’t matter how many things you prove wrong it will never shake their confidence in the slightest because they know they have endless other things to tell you, and they feel certain it can’t all be bad. And it takes way less effort for them to change the subject and throw out a bunch more bad arguments and evidence than it takes you to show them the problems with all of them.

I can assure you that this is exactly what it is like to try to reason with a conspiracy theorist.

But I tried this best approach once, and it failed me.

He sent me what he thought was a bulletproof argument. I researched it and showed him why it was irrefutably flawed. I thought that had to be the end of it.

He, on the other hand, said he could hardly have been expected to know that his evidence was based on a blatant falsehood that he had naively accepted as true. And he continued to send more and more arguments, as before. Whenever I tried to remind him how his best argument had crashed and burned so terribly, he would just tell me it was annoying how I always focused on that ONE TIME when he was wrong (it was not the only time) and would throw out a bunch more garbage.

I think I’ve figured out what went wrong. Next time, I need to say, tell me your best argument, which you have already thoroughly researched for yourself and which you are confident is not bogus.

Surely then they can’t just say that they couldn’t have been expected to know it was so wrong . . . right??

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