A few of our fellow board members like to entertain, frustrate and even drive to insanity the rest of us, by posting utter garbage that purports to explain what "really is happening" in the world today, from individual events like the MH17 shoot-down and the disappearance of MH318 earlier this year, to the alleged machinations of a shadowy cadre of elites who supposedly control the world and manipulate world leaders and nations like chess pieces. No matter how illogical their theories are proven to be, they cling to them like Dorothy clings to trees in a tornado. Nonetheless, I think it's time to permanently deflate these rubbish gathers by pointing out how every single one of their posts go. This is a compilation of logical fallacies conspiracy theorists love to engage in as compiled by several observers over the years. Appeal to the "bandwagon effect" The so-called "bandwagon effect" is a psychological phenomenon where people are eager to believe things if most of the people around them believe that too. Sometimes that thing is true and there's no harm, but sometimes it's a misconception, urban legend or, in this case, an unfounded conspiracy theory, in which case the "bandwagon effect" bypasses logical thinking for the worse. The most typical form of appealing to the bandwagon effect is to say something along the lines of "30% of Americans doubt that..." or "30% of Americans don't believe the official story". This is also called an argumentum ad populum, which is a logical fallacy. Appeal to rebellion A rebellion is, in the most general sense, a refusal to accept authority. People don't want to be sheep who are patronized by authority and told what they have to do and how they have to think. People usually distrust authorities and many believe that authorities are selfish and abuse people for their own benefit. This is an extremely fertile ground for conspiracy theories. Shotgun argumentation "Shotgun argumentation" is a metaphor from real life: It's much easier to hunt a rabbit with a shotgun than with a rifle. Shotgun argumentation has the same basic idea: The more small arguments or "evidence" you present in favor of some claim, the higher the probability that someone will believe you regardless of the ridiculous of those arguments. Secondly, and more closely related to the shotgun methapor: The more arguments or individual pieces of "evidence" you have, the higher the probability that at least some of them will sound so plausible to a listener/reader that he is then convinced. Thus one or a few of the "pellets" hit the "rabbit" and killed it. Of course the fallacy of both these efforts is that the amount of "evidence" is in no way proof of anything. The vast majority, and usually all of this "evidence" is easily explainable and just patently false. Citing inexistent sources This is a favorite of our few conspiracy theorists on board at BB. It has crossed my mind that they may not even be aware they themselves are victims of this very sandbag. It relies on the idea that the majority of people believe that credible sources have said/written whatever someone claims they have said or written. Even worse, most people believe that a source is credible or even exists just because someone claims that it is credible and exists. People almost never check that the source exists, that it's a credible source and that it has indeed said what was claimed. Conspiracy theorists know this and thus abuse it to the maximum. Sometimes they fabricate sources or stories, and sometimes they just cite nameless sources (using expressions like "experts in the field", "most astronomers", etc). This is an actual quote from a JFK assassination conspiracy theory website: Scientists examined the Zapruder film. They found that, while most of it looks completely genuine, some of the images are impossible. They violate the laws of physics. They could not have come from Zapruder's home movie camera. The reality? There is no such claim by any credible scientists anywhere to this effect, and the very, very few who will be quoted or cited by conspiracy theorists have never been within 100 miles of the Zapruder film. But nonsense like that works. More than half of Americans refuse to believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, even though a dispassionate, objective look at the evidence proves exactly that. This is going to get too long if I continue such detail, but briefly, some of the other conspiracy theorist tactics include: Citing sources which are wrong: Articles from credible newspapers or other media outlets quote conspiracy theorists, which other conspiracy theorists quote with attribution as though the quote in a credible source proves the theory, ignoring the actual fact the source goes on to debunk the theory. Cherry-picking: Someone deliberately selects from a wide variety of material only those items which support the conspiracy theory, while ignoring and discarding those which don't. Argument from authority: Quoting "scientists,: "researchers" or other "credible professionals" who are wrong. Of course, the conspiracy theorist will not say they are wrong, or have been proven wrong. They simply post the quote or the research and say, "See?" Argument from ignorance: Something "out of place" is pointed out without explanation, and then cited as "proof" that foul play, manipulation or other augmentation has taken place. Often there isn't even proof anything is "out of place" anywhere except in the eye of the conspiracy theorist. The Lee Harvey Oswald photo in the alley behind his house is a prime example. Conspiracy theorists have claimed for years it was "doctored" and it isn't Oswald's head on his body. It is. The photo is real. Get over it. Argument from (personal) incredulity: "I can't even begin to imagine how this can work / be possible, hence it must be fake". This is a variation or subset of the argument from ignorance. Argument from coincidence: In conspiracy theory land, there are no such things as coincidences. Everything always happens for a reason, and everything is always related somehow to their favorite conspiracy. Pareidolia: Pareidolia is, basically, the phenomenon which happens when we perceive recognizable patterns in randomness, even though the patterns really aren't there. For example, random blotches of paint might look like a face, or random noise might sound like a spoken word (or even a full sentence). If we aren't expecting to see or hear something -- because we know it isn't there -- we won't hear it. But if someone tells us what to see or hear, we will instantly "recognize it" when it is presented. OK, I've gone on too long, and I've probably sent a couple of our members into apoplexy. So be it. Know what they're doing to you, and don't let them do it.