Conspiracy Theories Unspun
Terms in this set (77)
polite word for deception; ranges from subtle omissions to outright lies; mischaracterization of others' words, denying important evidence, making things up
ideas or explanations generally accepted as true; usually unexamined
suppression of the truth
If It's Scary, Be Wary
fear and insecurity can cloud judgment; FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) factor; EX: spyware programs
Why use spin
Profits, Voter Support, Voter Criticism
A Story That's Too Good
Approach claims cautiously when they are dramatic, especially if we want them to be true; When something seems too good, it should be a warning to withhold judgment until we get a closer look at the evidence
The Dangling Comparative
A term meant to compare two things is left dangling without stating what's being compared
The Superlatives Swindle
Like comparatives, but use terms like "most," "best," "smallest," "fastest," etc.
The "Pay You Tuesday" Con
Give something now, get paid later; politics are the opposite: get something now, pay later
The Blame Game
Pointing a finger at an unpopular group and hoping to divert attention from the weakness of his own evidence; CLUE - People who find their own position weak often attack
Attractive sounding but vague terms; Get you to buy into the product or idea without asking too many questions
Using names and labels to deceive; EX: Starbucks sized 'tall' coffee
Frame It and Claim It
Both sides of an argument will try to use words that we'll automatically accept or reject without thinking too much; Ex: "Death Tax"
Suck the meaning out of a phrase or sentence
Words say one thing (usually negative) but pictures say another thing (usually positive), Pictures win; Minimize retention - show one thing while saying another; What we see tends to override what we hear
The "Average" Bear
When most people hear "average" they think "typical", Average does NOT mean typical; Used to skew statistics; EX: Tax cuts
The Baseline Bluff
Popular when politicians talk about "cuts"; "Cuts" relative to what???
The Literally True Falsehood
People pick words that are deceptive without being strictly, technically false
The Implied Falsehood
See or hear something that is strongly implied, but not stated
The unpleasant feeling of psychological conflict; Occurs when deeply held beliefs are challenged by conflicting evidence
Sacrificing sanity for the sake of consistency; Hold on to incorrect ideas even if they are clearly untrue; Applies to far-out cases whose beliefs make them oblivious to facts
Psychology of Deception
We embrace information that supports our beliefs and reject evidence that challenges them;We seek out evidence to support our beliefs - even weak evidence; We ignore evidence that undercuts our beliefs
Overgeneralization of Events
We tend to overgeneralize from vivid, dramatic single events
You believe others will be affected by exposure to messages in advertising while we will be immune
We believe something because we want to believe it
Picture in Our Heads Trap
"The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do."
We don't look very closely at the facts, we just believe what we expect to believe
"Root for My Side" Trap
Our commitment to a cause colors our thinking and effects what we see, or don't see, about the world around us; Not just attitude - people really see things differently
Confirmation Bias: Information that agrees with our position seems true and is not noteworthy, but information that goes against what we believe sticks out and makes us look for a reason to reject it; Also called "myside bias"
"I Know I'm Right" Trap
The more misinformed we are, the more strongly we insist we're correct; Study: Those holding the least accurate beliefs were the ones expressing the highest confidence in those beliefs
"Close Call" Trap
When we are confronted with tough decisions and close calls, we tend to exaggerate the differences; We are more confident in our choice when we make a tough choice
Spreading Alternatives Effect
A natural human tendency to make ourselves feel better about the choices we have made, even at the expense of accuracy or consistency; humans crave certainty, helps us make decisions, makes it harder to change our minds
"Grey Goose" Effect
Just because it costs more does not mean it's better! Higher prices makes us think the product is better.
Consumer Report: Correlation between quality and price is near zero. Cheaper products better than expensive products about half the time.
Selling False Hope
People are desperate for a solution, don't look at facts and evidence
We get spun by mistaking how often we hear about something for how often it really occurs.
A mental bias that gives more weight to emotional impact than to actual probability
What you don't know might be hurting you
the gap between perception and facts
Facts Change History
Misperceptions of the truth about majority opinion may have altered history
Countries can end up in wars based on false factual claims
A Military Duty to Lie
Military commanders consider it their duty to deceive the enemy if that will win battles and save lives among their own troops
Sometimes deceptive information leaks to public
defects that weaken arguments; Very common and can be persuasive; Removing them from your arguments will strengthen them; Identifying them in others' arguments will help you make an educated decision
conclusion together with the premises that support it
a reason offered as support for another claim
the claim being supported by a premise or premises
a statement or set of statements designed to show why something is the case rather than that it is the case
since, because, for, as, follows from, as shown by, Inasmuch as, as indicated by, the reason that, may be inferred from, may be derived from, may be deduced from, given that
therefore, hence, so, accordingly, consequently, proves that, as a result, thus, for this reason, for these reasons, it follows that, I conclude that, which shows that, which means that, which entails that, which implies that
Making an assumption about a whole group/range of cases based on a sample that is inadequate; Stereotypes
Missing the Point
The premises of an argument supports a conclusion, but not the conclusion the arguer actually draws.
Post Hoc (False Cause)
After this, therefore because of this; Assuming that if B comes after A, A caused B
Argument - A chain reaction, usually ending in a dire consequence, will take place. But, there's not enough evidence for that assumption
Two things are being compared, but they aren't really alike in all relevant respects.
Appeal to Authority
Referring to respected sources or authorities and explaining their positions on the issues we're discussing.
"To the people"
The arguer takes advantage of the desire most people have to be liked and to fit in with others
against the person; You shouldn't believe someone's argument because they are either a bad person or a hypocrite; Attack on opponent personally instead of argument.
you, too; You shouldn't believe someone's argument because they are either a bad person or a hypocrite; Attack on opponent personally instead of argument.
Appeal to Pity
The arguer tries to get people to accept a conclusion by making them feel sorry for someone
Appeal to Ignorance
Since there is no conclusive evidence on this issue, you should accept my conclusion.
The arguer sets up a flawed version of the opponent's position and then knocks it down.
Partway through the argument, the arguer raises an irrelevant issue as a distraction.
The arguer sets up a situation so it looks like there are only two choices. Often, the arguer will eliminate one choice, leaving us with only the other choice.
Begging the Question
An arguer relies on a premise that says the same thing as a conclusion, without real evidence, and asks the reader to simply accept the conclusion.
Sliding between two or more different meanings of a single word or phrase that is important to an argument.
Build a Better Argument #1
Since pain is a state of consciousness, a 'mental event,' it can never be directly observed.
Build a Better Argument #2
All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.
Build a Better Argument #3
Genes and proteins are discovered, not invented. Inventions are patentable, discoveries are not. Thus, protein patents are intrinsically flawed.
Consider the Source
Who stands behind the information?
Assume anonymous claims are false until proven otherwise
Look for sources with authority
Government websites usually good - but be careful about bias on party websites
Weighing the trustworthiness of any particular website
When was the website last updated?
Was the website carelessly created?
What is the author's education/background?
You Can't Be Completely Certain
Absolute certainty is elusive
Be suspicious of any claims containing phrases like "always" or "never"
Science is always right, isn't it?
What we know now to be scientifically correct may be disproved in the future by new scientific evidence
Everybody craves certainty because living with psychological doubt is uncomfortable
You Can Be Certain Enough
We can't be absolutely certain, but we can be certain enough to make a reasonable decision
What is your standard? Your standard should depend on the situation; The more important the decision, and the more difficult to reverse the consequences of that decision, the more careful we have to be
Look for General Agreement Among Experts
Consensus isn't proof - sometimes the lone dissenter is on to something
EX: Galileo and the laws of physics
BUT - We can be much more confident that we are getting the facts right when we start with what's widely accepted by authorities on both sides
Check Primary Sources
Messages can be garbled in retelling
Check secondhand accounts against the original
Ex: Courts often refuse hearsay evidence
Ex: News articles based on anonymous sources
Also - does the headline match the content?
Look for a full quote when you see a partial quote
Was the quote taken in context? Primary sources are more reliable than secondary sources
Know What Counts
When you see numbers being used, be sure you know what's being counted and what's not.
Political parties play counting games
Know Who's Talking
Does the author's private interest conflict with his responsibility to provide unbiased, trust-worthy research?
EX: Is a drug company funding a study on the effects of a drug?
Doesn't mean the information is bad, it just helps us consider how much weight to give to it
Groups whose names seem to indicate support of a noble policy position may be committed to a specific party or industry - beware!
Self-interest doesn't make a statement false
BUT - look at the source's motives and don't always accept information at face value
Seeing Shouldn't Necessarily Be Believing
Researchers have found that people can rather easily be talked into seeing things that aren't there (or saying they do)
You can't always trust your memories!
People tend to overestimate how well they remember their own experiences
Ex: Your siblings may remember an important event differently than you remember it
An apparently distinct memory of something that occurred long ago may be a reconstruction, often a self-serving one
Cross Check Everything That Matters
We can be more confident about a conclusion when different sources using different methods agree upon it
Be Skeptical, Not Cynical
Skeptic demands evidence but cynic assumes what he is being told is false
Cynicism if a form of gullibility
It's OK to demand facts, but don't always assume you're being lied to!!