Antivaccine nonsense Skepticism/critical thinking

“I’m a rational theorist, not a conspiracy theorist.”

Conspiracy theorists hate being called conspiracy theorists. After they try to rebrand themselves as “rational theorists,” hilarity ensues.

Regular readers know that the last couple of weeks have lacking in the usual quantity of Insolence, both Respectful and Not-So-Respectful, on the ol’ blog. The reasons were twofold: A grant deadline on August 4, followed immediately by a vacation, during which Orac sought to recharge his much-depleted Tarial cells. When he returned, he immediately moved to update and revise a recent post from before his hiatus, but what then? Thankfully, there is never a shortage of material, to the point where I had difficult picking what target topic to start with. When I saw a post by COVID-19 antivax quack and crank Dr. Peter McCullough, I knew that I had to start out general, rather than specific. His post? The very title alone was enough to sell me: “Conspiracy Theorist” Recoined “Rational Theorist” in Battle Against the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex. Even more hilariously, the tagline for his Substack post was:

Counterpropaganda Campaign Emphasizes Correcting Words

Orac predicted that hilarity would ensue, and it most surely did.

In fairness, it wasn’t Dr. McCullough who coined the term “rational theorist”; it was someone of whom I had never heard before named Monica Smit, Managing Director of Reignite Democracy Australia. However, Dr. McCullough surely approves most heartily of this new term, featuring this meme defining it:

Rational Theorist
“Rational”? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means, Ms. Smit and Dr. McCullough. I can say the same thing about “common sense,” “rationality,” and “critical thinking.”

McCullough starts out with the familiar lament that all conspiracy theorists eventually resort to when their conspiracy theories are called out:

Over the course of the pandemic we have heard the term “conspiracy theorist” used quickly to discredit anyone who is raising a point or challenging the biopharmaceutical complex, the powerful syndicate we define in our book Courage to Face COVID-19. Many have quipped: “its not a conspiracy theory, its a conspiracy” or “just wait 6 months and the conspiracy theory will come true.” None of these retorts have made much progress.

Monica Smit, Managing Director of Reignite Democracy Australia, helped bring this video forward as a way of messaging “conspiracy theory” into a more constructive term “rational theorist” based on the logical and debatable nature of statements made.

There’s a reason why the retorts McCullough cites don’t resonate (actually, at least two reasons): First, as much as conspiracy theorists like him deny it, there are actually major differences between between conspiracy theories and an actual conspiracy, as I will briefly discuss in a moment. Second, because ravings by people like McCullough are indeed conspiracy theories and not actual conspiracies, nothing changes in six months to validate them. They remain conspiracy theories, and all people like McCullough can do is to make them more complex in order to account how evidence doesn’t support them and try to rename themselves as “rational theorists” rather than what they really are.

Apparently, what is really annoying McCullough is that his Wikipedia page is locked, meaning that he and his allies can’t edit it to portray himself as something other than what he is: An antivax quack and conspiracy theorist. If you look at McCullough’s Wikipedia page, you will soon see that he is not described as a conspiracy theorist, but the page does appropriately describe how he has spread COVID-19 conspiracy theories, in particular about ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, on venues such as Joe Rogan’s podcast and social media, as well as how he shares many of the conspiracy theories promoted by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a group that I like to refer to as a fake medical society that has long served, in essence, as a medical John Birch Society.

Basically, AAPS has never been particularly “rational.” Indeed, it has long been antivax to the core, and examples abound of its promotion of conspiracy theories. For example, AAPS has promoted medical quackery in addition to its antivaccine pseudoscience, including a view that is extreme even among antivaccine activists, namely that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a “misdiagnosis” for vaccine injury; its HIV/AIDS denialism; its blaming immigrants for crime and disease; its promotion of the pseudoscience claiming that abortion causes breast cancer using some of the most execrable “science” ever; its rejection of evidence-based guidelines as an unacceptable affront on the godlike autonomy of physicians; or the way the AAPS rejects even the concept of a scientific consensus about anything. Shortly before the pandemic, AAPS even published an article by Andrew Wakefieldabout how the MMR vaccine could lead to a mass extinction of humanity that later served as the template for Geert Vanden Bossche’s conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccines would lead to COVID-19 variants that could endanger humanity. Let’s just put it this way. The AAPS has featured publications by antivaccine mercury militia “scientists” Mark and David Geier. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take AAPS long to pivot to conspiracy theories involving COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Nor am I surprised to learn the McCullough is a member.

As for Wikipedia, editors generally only lock pages to editing by anyone when there have been multiple attempts—shall we say?—to “burnish” the Wikipedia page of a prominent person who doesn’t like the negative description, even though Wikipedia goes out of its way in its rules to emphasize neutral language. (That’s very likely why the entry on McCullough only says that he repeats conspiracy theories, not that he’s a conspiracy theorist, and why, from my perspective, Wikipedia is, if anything, too kind in its description of McCullough.)

Of course, McCullough is far from the first crank to complain about his Wikipedia entry or to try to game it. Two years ago, Dr. Robert “inventor of mRNA vaccines” Malone complained that his supposed contributions to the development of mRNA vaccines were being “erased from Wikipedia,” even though his wife was busted making edits to his page and the page edits showed that editors had been trying to avoid “puffery” not just of him but of Katalin Karikó, the biochemist at BioNTech who made critical observations that led to the mRNA vaccine now being distributed by Pfizer with BioNTech and holds patents for the application of non-immunogenic, nucleoside-modified RNA. It’s not just COVID-19 cranks either. Before the pandemic, Gary Null and Deepak Chopra were furiously complaining about Chopra’s Wikipedia entry, misrepresenting it as an attempt to “censor” or “discredit” Chopra. (Chopra and Null do fine jobs discrediting themselves.) Years before that, antivaxxers complained about Andrew Wakefield’s Wikipedia entry. Congratulations, Dr. McCullough! You’re now in the company of crank giants like Wakefield and Chopra!

Wikipedia aside, let’s see what Ms. Smit has to say and why McCullough is so keen on her term.

“Rational theorist” is not so rational

Fans of the term “rational theorist” point to a video by Monica Smit. So I thought I’d look at it. It’s mercifully short (2:16), which meant that I didn’t have to deal with what I generally hate to deal with, long crank videos that firehose to their heart’s content. As regular readers know, I sometimes complain about such videos and how I rarely address them because they are such an inefficient use of my time. In this case, I figured I could spare two minutes to watch Smit’s video:

Here’s where the hilarity ensues.

I love how the video starts with an elderly man watching a conspiracy video on his smartphone about “bankers.” (Uh-oh.) Does Smit not know that “bankers” is often synonymous with “Jews” in conspiracy circles? Personally, if I were going to make the case for “rational theorist” instead of “conspiracy theorist,” I would have chosen a less obviously antisemitic example to lead with. It amuses me how conspiracy theorists can’t help but undermine their own misdirection by reminding those in the know that what they are promoting are, in fact, conspiracy theories. The man’s wife issues an appeal to authority about the person on the video, pointing out that she’s an investment banker and asking, “What if she’s right?” Her husband dismisses this and says she’s a conspiracy theorist, which is meant to show him as close-minded.

Smit then pivots to a scene of a couple sitting next to each other watching a video of McCullough on a smartphone in which he says:

With COVID-19 vaccines, there isn’t a single paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, or Lancet whose conclusion is: The risks of the vaccines outweigh the benefits.

At first, I wondered if McCullough had somehow reversed the intended order and had wanted to say that there isn’t a single paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, or Lancet whose conclusion is that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks, but I went back and listened again. The order is intentional. Now, you or I (or scientists and physicians) might suggest that the reason that there are no papers in these journals suggesting that the risks of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the benefits is obviously because they don’t. The benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks, and the scientific evidence is clear about that, making the claim that there are “no papers” showing otherwise in the highest impact journals (like NEJM) seem to be a “conspiracy theory.” To counter that idea, the the video immediately shows the couple moving on from the video of McCullough that they’d just watched to look at his Wikipedia page, zeroing in on the words “conspiracy theories” in the article. Put the two together, and the implication is that “They” are hiding the evidence that the risks of vaccines outweigh the benefits. The view of “conspiracy theories” on McCullough’s Wikipedia page leads the woman to dismiss what the man is saying, prompting him to ask:

But isn’t he a pretty famous doctor? Why would he tarnish his career just to make those things up?

Good question! I ask this question time and time again about conspiracy theorists. Yet they do. Lots of doctors who were seemingly formerly respectable have devolved into conspiracy theorists and become misinformation spreaders. There were a lot of “closeted” antivax physicians who “outed” themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of contrarian doctors who went down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and became participants in the war against the science-based regulation of medicine. Let’s just say that a physician’s former reputation is no guarantee that that doctor won’t become a conspiracy theorist. Heck, John Ioannidis is probably the most published living academic physician, and he’s gone down the rabbit hole of spreading misinformation and COVID-19 minimization, to the point of using the power his reputation had granted him to publish some risibly bad “science” striking back against critics. I can’t emphasize this enough: A physician or scientist’s reputation and performance are no magic talismans against their falling for pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.

Like McCullough, Smit is not happy about being called a “conspiracy theorist” either. About halfway through the video she shows up in the video against a black background with other people in shadows behind her and laments how “like millions of others, I recently have been called a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for the first time in my life, and it just does not sit right with me.” (Somehow, I doubt that that this was the first time she’s ever been called a “conspiracy theorist.”)

She then asks:

We’ve been forced to embrace this term, but what if it’s being intentionally used to discredit people? And then it dawned on me: We’ve never been conspiracy theorists, because our theories are logical, evidence-based, and even debatable—if people would debate us.

I laughed out loud. Conspiracy theories are often logical—or at least seemingly so—and often based on “evidence.” It’s just that conspiracy theorists often support their conspiracy theories using logic based on a cherry-picked evidence base that supports the posited conspiracy and ignores context and disconfirming evidence, while claiming that the person promoting the conspiracy theory is being “silenced,” “censored,” or “persecuted.” (Come to think of it, it’s rather like how Ms. Smit portrays the term “conspiracy theorist” as being intentionally used to “discredit” her and others like her.) That evidence base is immune to disconfirming evidence, too.

Smit then goes on to protest:

We are not conspiracy theorists at all. We are actually rational theorists. Until now, maybe you’ve been afraid to ask questions because you’ve seen people being publicly vilified and bullied for doing so. But things have changed. Now is the perfect time to ask questions because you are a rational theorist, and your theories are exactly that, rational.

Fade to Smit’s website, Rational Theorist. Of course.

Not really having much knowledge of who Monica Smit is, out of curiosity, I perused her Instagram page linked on her website, and soon found:

Nothing like hanging out with one of the granddaddies of conspiracy theorists like David Icke to convince people you’re not a conspiracy theorist, right? I wonder if Icke’s ideas about lizard people are “rational theories” to her.

Amused by this initial find, I then did a bit of Googling and found that Smit is the founder of an anti-lockdown group called Reignite Democracy Australia and is a believer in sovereign citizen conspiracy theories. (I hadn’t realized that sovereign citizen nonsense was a thing outside of the US. Learn something new every day.)

Let’s contrast how Smit and McCullough portray their “rational theories” to conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories

Whenever discussing conspiracy theories, I like to refer to a very useful primer on the concept intended for lay audiences, specifically an e-book on recognizing conspiracy theories and countering conspiratorial thinking published by Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook, The Conspiracy Theory Handbook. They identify seven characteristics of conspiratorial thinking, after first pointing out the key differences between conventional and conspiratorial thinking:

Conspiracy theories vs. rational theories
Substitute “rational thinking” for “conventional thinking” in this diagram, and you basically have a nifty comparison between what “rational” really means compared to what conspiratorial thinking of the sort engaged in by Smit and McCullough to refer to.

Lewandowsky and Cook point out the difference between conspiracy theories and actual conspiracies thusly:

Actual conspiracies do exist but they are rarely discovered through the methods of conspiracy theorists. Rather, real conspiracies get discovered through conventional thinking—healthy skepticism of official accounts while carefully considering available evidence and being committed to internal consistency. In contrast, conspiratorial thinking is characterized by being hyperskeptical of all information that does not fit the theory, over-interpreting evidence that supports a preferred theory, and inconsistency.

This is the key difference, and these are the characteristics of conspiratorial thinking, under the mnemonic CONSPIR. See how many of these characteristics you can find in just Smit’s video.:

  • Contradictory: Conspiracy theorists can simultaneously believe in ideas that are mutually contradictory. For example, believing the theory that Princess Diana was murdered but also believing that she faked her own death. This is because the theorists’ commitment to disbelieving the “official” account is so absolute, it doesn’t matter if their belief system is incoherent.
  • Overriding suspicion: Conspiratorial thinking involves a nihilistic degree of skepticism towards the official account. This extreme degree of suspicion prevents belief in anything that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory.
  • Nefarious intent: The motivations behind any presumed conspiracy are invariably assumed to be nefarious. Conspiracy theories never propose that the presumed conspirators have benign motivations.
  • Something must be wrong: Although conspiracy theorists may occasionally abandon specific ideas when they become untenable, those revisions don’t change their overall conclusion that “something must be wrong” and the official account is based on deception.
  • Persecuted victim: Conspiracy theorists perceive and present themselves as the victim of organized persecution. At the same time, they see themselves as brave antagonists taking on the villainous conspirators. Conspiratorial thinking involves a self-perception of simultaneously being a victim and a hero.
  • Immune to evidence: Conspiracy theories are inherently self-sealing—evidence that counters a theory is re-interpreted as originating from the conspiracy. This reflects the belief that the stronger the evidence against a conspiracy (e.g., the FBI exonerating a politician from allegations of misusing a personal email server), the more the conspirators must want people to believe their version of events (e.g., the FBI was part of the conspiracy to protect that politician).
  • Re-interpreting randomness: The overriding suspicion found in conspiratorial thinking frequently results in the belief that nothing occurs by accident. Small random events, such as intact windows in the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks, are re-interpreted as being caused by the conspiracy (because if an airliner had hit the Pentagon, then all windows would have shattered) and are woven into a broader, interconnected pattern.

There’s even a quick summary that I like to point to and use in PowerPoints:

Conspiracy theories
Sound familiar?

Let’s just say that Smit’s video has at least O, N, P, and I in just her narrative alone, all with the lead being using an antisemitic conspiracy theory about “bankers” as something that she doesn’t view as a conspiracy theory to start the video out. That’s quite a self-own.

I also note that conspiracy theorists always view themselves as “critical thinkers,” people more rational than everyone else who as a result of their critical thinking and rationality possess knowledge and insight hiddent from the rest of us. Remember, for instance, the group of antivax conspiracy theorist moms who branded themselves The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, whose members adopted ‘nyms like “The Professor” and go out of their way to portray themselves as “critical thinkers.” That’s one of the reasons why conspiracy theories are so attractive, even to intelligent people. (Maybe especially to intelligent people.) Like Smit, they also view criticism not as criticism of their conspiracy mongering but rather as “persecution,” evidence for the conspiracy in which “They” don’t want anyone else to know about it and therefore seek to “discredit” those promoting the conspiracy theory. One way that “They” supposedly seek to discredit people like Smit and McCullough this is by labeling them “conspiracy theorists,” hence Smit’s hilarious attempt to reframe herself as a “rational theorist,” which reminds me of The Professor proclaiming what a “critical thinker” she is.

Will Smit’s attempt to rebrand conspiracy theorists as “rational theorists” work? I doubt it. Why? First, the term “rational theorist” is clunky and unlikely to catch on, no matter how much cranks try to use it or make social media hashtags out of it. Second, conspiracy theorists have long been trying to rebrand themselves as rationalists, in particular as “critical thinkers.” It hasn’t worked before, and there’s no reason to think that changing the preferred term to “rational theorist” will work now.

It will, however, amuse me to watch people like Smit and McCullough—and now Paul Alexander—try to get the term to catch on.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

112 replies on ““I’m a rational theorist, not a conspiracy theorist.””

For crazy claims that are beyond ridiculous, “hoax” is a better term than “theory.”

For starters, I’ll take a little look at the “no article in NEJM, Lancet, or JAMA concluding the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks”.

For instance the Phase 3 results for Pfizer were published in NEJM.

Two BNT162b2 recipients died (one from arteriosclerosis, one from cardiac arrest), as did four placebo recipients (two from unknown causes, one from hemorrhagic stroke, and one from myocardial infarction). No deaths were considered by the investigators to be related to the vaccine or placebo. No Covid-19–associated deaths were observed. No stopping rules were met during the reporting period. Safety monitoring will continue for 2 years after administration of the second dose of vaccine.

15 million cases and 276,000 deaths in the U.S. at the time with no vaccines administered outside of the trials.
And in February 2023, the Lancet reported

Even with declining antibodies, the new variants and immune escape,

Protection against severe disease, although based on scarce data, appears to be durable up to more than 1 year for ancestral, alpha, delta, and omicron BA.1 variants. Protection from past infection in comparison with that conferred by vaccination, however, must be weighed against the risks of severe morbidity and mortality associated with the initial infection.

92 million cases and over 1 million deaths

And JAMA published doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.26852
It concluded for a study of Medicare recipients, an inherently high risk group

In this cohort study of older US adults, the risk of adverse events following BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 administration was low for both mRNA vaccines, affirming their safety overall and in patient subgroups at potentially increased risk of adverse events. Because the risk of adverse events following natural infection exceeds that of either mRNA vaccine,8,18 vaccination with any available product should be prioritized. Nonetheless, mRNA-1273 was associated with a slightly lower risk of pulmonary embolism and other adverse events compared with BNT162b2. Because individuals who received mRNA-1273 also had a lower risk of diagnosed COVID-19, the reduced risk of adverse events in this vaccine group may represent the benefits of vaccination with a more effective product. Future research should seek to formally disentangle differences in vaccine safety and effectiveness and consider the role of frailty in assessments of COVID-19 vaccine performance.

So the speaker is using the No True Scotsman fallacy to lie and imply that the major medical journals haven’t reported on the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.

Comparing the million plus in the U.S. alone with the handful of people who have died from the vaccines should be an easy assessment that they refuse to make.

Yes, Moronica is well known to us skeptics in Australia. She is everything and more that Orac says she is. Not a particualrly bright one.

A Monica Smit (I presume the same one) stood as a candidate for a senate seat for the Australian state of Victoria in the 2022 federal election, in second ballot place in an unnamed group on the ballot paper (named groups are registered political parties).

She got 1,071 first preference votes (the Australian senate is elected on a single transferable vote system) out of 3,821,539 of the total valid first preference votes, or 0.033%, and 0.2% of the number of votes she’d have needed to be elected (6 seats were open for election, so a candidate needs ~14.3% of the vote to be elected).

“With COVID-19 vaccines, there isn’t a single paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, or Lancet whose conclusion is: The risks of the vaccines outweigh the benefits.”

Is this hinting that science isn’t valid unless it proves AND disproves something? Or that, in the interests of balance, you should deliberately design studies to show negative AND positive results?

Interesting worldview.

“challenging the biopharmaceutical complex, the powerful syndicate”

Nope, nothing about labeling your opponents (physicians, researchers, commentators, fact-checkers, the general public) as a “complex” or “powerful syndicate” is in the least indicative of a conspiratorial mindset. 😉

Lewandowski and Cook: “Actual conspiracies do exist but they are rarely discovered through the methods of conspiracy theorists. Rather, real conspiracies get discovered through conventional thinking”

I would add that actual conspiracies are virtually never uncovered by Internet sleuths, and only rarely by amateurs in general (the one major detective feat I recall along those lines is the unraveling of the conspiracy at the heart of the Dreyfus Affair). Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and investigative reporters get much of the credit in real life.

Thanks Dr. Gorski, for another great article! The conspiracy anti-vax grifters just cannot let anything go. It’s like seriously, McCullough, et, al, are these people just going to be stuck on covid and vaccines for the rest of their lives?

I like them calling themselves rational theorists because it reminds me of the ‘rational thinking’ movement in a corner of the internet where I used to spend a lot of time. People who called themselves rational during that time and place were some of the most absurd, illogical and generally unpleasant people who were ready to claim that if their ideas contradicted reality then the problem was with reality, which lines up perfectly with these rational theorists.

It’s not RICO, you dumb sumabitch. But isn’t it though?

Sorry, I’m down to 31 qubits now and this does not appear to belong here at this time… Shoutout to NARAD, wohoo!!!

Some of those I survey call themselves “rationalists” who employ and teach ” critical thinking” including Occam’s razor- which is often mispronounced.
I like Mark Crislip’s ( SBM, yesterday) reality based vs witlessness based medicine **

** I like the term but it’s hard to type

The cute picture of a woman wearing a tinfoil hat comes from a 11 year old YouTube video from a little known vlogger Jessica Gottlieb, titled “How to make a tin foil hat that will save you from an alien invasion”.

I cannot help but notice that Jessica looks very happy in all her videos.

Orac’s post left me wondering and pondering some thoughts.

If a conspiracy theory eventually comes true, was it a conspiracy theory? Is there such a thing as a true conspiracy theory?

Who decides which theories are conspiracy theories and which are not?

Can a psychologist by education analyze people discussing a theory involving complicated matters that this psychologist has no expert understanding of? (such as virology, for instance)

The duck test applies here. A conspiracy theory claims that everyone participates conspiracy and nobody notices it, expect people people posessing thrr Truth

“Can a psychologist by education analyze people discussing a theory involving complicated matters that this psychologist has no expert understanding of? (such as virology, for instance)”

Why yes. Another example:

Critical thinking capacity, a desire to learn and an educational background that permits comprehension of evidence outside of one’s professional sphere makes understanding possible.

Random antivax bozos stacking up misinformation and conspiracy theories to feed their Substack audience, not so much. In the face of contradictory and superior evidence, they remain ignorant, confused and hostile.

“Can a psychologist by education analyze people discussing a theory involving complicated matters that this psychologist has no expert understanding of? (such as virology, for instance)”

I would certainly hope so. I mean you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that we actually did land on the moon…

“Who decides which theories are conspiracy theories and which are not?”

I do. The number of phone calls and emails I get is mindblowing. The bloody lizards don’t pay me enough. I keep telling them that hamsters aren’t a viable currency.

“I keep telling them that hamsters aren’t a viable currency.”

But these are Syrian GOLDEN hamsters.

“If a conspiracy theory eventually comes true, was it a conspiracy theory? Is there such a thing as a true conspiracy theory?”


“Who decides which theories are conspiracy theories and which are not?”

it’s actually VERY easy. all you have to do is measure the claim against the evidence. something you have shown yourself repeatedly UNABLE to do.

“Can a psychologist by education analyze people discussing a theory involving complicated matters that this psychologist has no expert understanding of? ”

anybody can. because again, it is in fact, quite simple. that you entirely fail the test of evidence brands you as someone who, ironically, should be VISITING a psychologist for real treatment, instead of using them anecdotally.

I would like to update the other word of the term, calling them “conspiracy hypothesists” instead.

The science-based host of Media Watch at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) took Monica Smit of Reunite Democracy Australia to task way back in October 2021, together with the naive ABC reporter who gave her oxygen. The viewer backlash was interesting, and the reporter, who doubled down after the criticism, was found to be in breach of ABC editorial policy:

I have little to do today so why not? Multi-parts yet.

Psychologists are uniquely qualified to address CTs because they study personality, motivation, social interaction and how information is acquired, transformed and utilised.

Some even studied life sciences ( ahem!) although that is not necessary. A few commenters at RI do extremely well dealing with SB information/ CT although their areas of expertise are software, engineering, physics etc. Orac and the CONSPIR** sceptics address an audience that does not require a medical degree at all but must be able to understand basic principles of research/ analysis and READ at a reasonably proficient level.

The easiest way to differentiate CTs and actual conspiracies is the role DATA plays:
John*** suspects a massive, overarching conspiracy involving an entrenched group with nefarious intent to interfere with legal processes. WHY? Because he has seen videos of people behaving badly, heard audio of leaders, read documents concerning their activities and by interviewing them, their associates and other witnesses IN DETAIL. He accumulates millions of pages of material and hundreds? of interviews. Along the way, he even legally acquired secret DMs from an uncooperative Elon. He learns that other researchers have related information on some of the SAME actors elsewhere. As he proceeds, new data leads
to new questions. He winds up with over 100 pages that charge 19 people with assorted crimes.
Of course, he will be challenged by those involved who must put up their own data.

** nefarious intent is the best icon
*** work with me, people

Q. Would it make more sense if Orac changed the name of this blog from Respectful Insolence to “Rational Insolence.”

Of course it would, because not-so respectful insolence is admittedly Orac’s inclination. To Orac’s credit, his not-so respectful insolence is quite rational!

In conclusion, Orac needs to clean his own house before complaining about someone else’s backyard.

Another illustrative factor that divides CTs from reality is whether they develop over time.

They change very little. Soon after hiv was first observed, its existence or the importance of its role in aids was denied. Of course, early on there were little data but the virus was discovered by more than one researcher. Eventually, scientists photographed it and learned how it destroyed immunity, sickened and killed people. Yet hiv/aids denialists persisted based upon early observations, cherry picked data and ideas that were negated by studies from all over the world. Denialists never integrated new data into their (abysmal) theories.

Several variants of hiv/aids denialism developed blaming the illness on poor nutrition, poverty, drug use, promiscuity, psychological factors like fear or anti-retroviral meds. The perpetrators of hiv/aids misinformation remain- although a few died of aids- repeating the same lies and misinformation to steer hiv+ people away from SB treatments that prolong and improve life. These days, they integrate new villains into their list of miscreants such as Dr Fauci who became well known during the pandemic. I’ve noticed that denialists comment on timely issues like vaccination and the pandemic from their jaundiced perspective, rejecting SBM always. If you research prominent anti-vaxxers you are more likely than not to find hiv/aids denialism: their minds work in a way that leads that way.

There’s a fascinating literature about the psychology of conspiracy theories, and I think it answers the question – some psychologists should be able to address them, yes. I liked this book.

I appreciate Orac’s link to the Handbook, too.

I also agree with Orac that this new term won’t have more success than the attempt to use “critical thinkers,” even with the video (that didn’t wow me; even without Orac’s well-made point about the opening anti-Semitic dog whistle). One term that appears to have gotten hold among the more extreme conspiracy theories is to call people who do not agree with them “normies.”

I wonder why she did not think the red pill/blue pill language some of they use to build on The Matrix is good. Maybe she really feels the sting of being criticized for the fallacies that are such an important part of conspiracy theories.

“Normies” is straight out of incel nomenclature. As noted by the ADL:

“Normie: A person who is neurotypical with average attractiveness or intelligence. “Normies” are viewed by incels as superior. In the incel hierarchy, “Normies” fall between “Chads” and “incels.”

I wonder if the anti-vaccine people I saw use it – which are either women (mothers, most) or men who have children – know this.

I am happily married and have children. So I am not an incel.

I am however, highly uncomfortable about demonization of men who are described as “incels”. They are, at worst, socially awkward persons who deserve to be treated with respect and understanding, instead of being demonized. (Female incels also exist and are called “femcels”, usually being on the spectrum just as their male counterparts.)

What is worse, numerous media publications employ a technique of “smear by association” when they insinuate that a certain theory is somehow associated with incels. That smear by association makes people unwilling to give ideas fair consideration just because they would be reluctant of an imaginary association of such an idea with “incels”, who are openly ridiculed.

Consider, for example, an article in The Guardian: ‘Everything you’ve been told is a lie!’ Inside the wellness-to-fascism pipeline.

It vaguely alleges, without proof, that men exercising in gyms and harboring undesirable ideas are “incels”. (it notes that women exercising in gyms also harbor the same ideas, but the explanation for women is ridiculously different, citing “female data gap”)

It says: It is not that difficult to imagine why young men hitting the gym might be susceptible to QAnon and its ilk. This group spends a lot of time online, there is a supposed crisis of masculinity manifesting in the “incel” (involuntary celibacy) movement and similar, and numerous rightwing influencers have been targeting this group.

It also reserves special ire for “gym personal trainers”. Now, have you ever seen an involuntarily celibate gym personal trainer?

In this case, at attempt of smear by association is particularly laughable – whereas in other publications it could be more insiduous.

Good ideas are not promoted in such an underhanded manner!

“In this case, at attempt of smear by association is particularly laughable – whereas in other publications it could be more insiduous.”

Elsewhere, Chudov is dismissive of studies on the effectiveness of ivermectim in treating Covid on the basis of their funding sources but presents no evidence of research melfeasance.

I am however, highly uncomfortable about demonization of men who are described as “incels”

It takes a special type of person to make an attempt to excuse the behavior of incels. Not special in a good way, special in the worst way.

I suspect you know well that inches as used here does not mean “anyone who is at present without a partner,” but refers to a specific sub-culture with undertones of misogyny and violence.

It’s hard not to see your suggestion otherwise as disingenuous, and I think it reflects on your credibility more generally.

I am happily married and have children. So I am not an incel.

Interesting that although igor plays apologist for the “misunderstood” incels and claims they’re nice guys he goes out of his way to clearly explain he isn’t one, as though he’s afraid he’d be identified as one.

@ldw56old: ==> It takes a special type of person to make an attempt to excuse the behavior of incels. Not special in a good way, special in the worst way.

Do you know who “incels” are? Incel means “involuntarily celibate”, that is, a person (usually applied to men) who would like to have a romantic partner but cannot find one.

Usually, unless they are quadriplegic, incels cannot find a partner due to social awkwardness. Many of them are on the autism spectrum!

In my experience of people around me, anyone, no matter how ugly, short, fat, stupid and poor can find a romantic partner – of SIMILAR CALIBER. The number of men and women is roughly equal and both men and women have their share of unlucky, unattractive individuals desperate to date just about anyone.

It is understandable that both incels and femcels (involuntarily celibate females) are bitter about their situation.

It is unfortunate that these men cannot find a partner – but it is mean and nasty to be making fun of them and associate social awkwardness with particular undesirable ideologies.

Again, I am not an incel, I am happily married for decades, have children etc.

…I’ll make fun of incels to their faces if given the chance. Most of the ones I’ve met are absolute assholes who are mad at women for having the audacity to not be interested in fawning over them.

They’re not bitter about their situation, they’re bitter about reality not conforming to their expectations, often having weird obsessions with what they expect from a partner, usually traits which no real human being would have.

Do not have sympathy for these people or even try to justify their actions and beliefs. They’re vile and if you were to meet one in person you’d want to strangle them if you had to spend any amount of time with them. They might talk a good game online, even tell sad stories about why they can’t get laid, but in person they’re wretched.

Listen to what they say about women Igor. It’s not just bad luck they can’t “find women” (which is an ugly phrase itself) — they harbor horrible opinions about women.

I’m not surprised you’re willing to take another bullshit stand; I am a little concerned about what it indicates about your view of women.

Can’t these incels even find a tradwife? Or are even they not interested in them?


I think it’s partly just that they don’t have the knack for being nice to a woman. They come across as being wanna-be macho jerks. Sort of like the overpaid right wing talk show host who got caught on video sitting on the back porch yelling at his pregnant wife to go run errands for him.

Not that I really spend much time at all listening to them.

Reminds me on the neighbour of my first boyfriend.
That guy shouted at his wife “Hey *** bring me some beer”.
Substitute *** for some degatory naming of the female reproctuctive organs.
I suppose I would deliver his beer by air-mail.


==> Can’t these incels even find a tradwife?

I am not sure if “tradwives” are easier to find than other wives, not that I know anything about that.

Incels cannot find anyone because they are awkward and come across as weirdos. Most are autistic.

I am glad NOT to be an incel!

But I am not okay with people making fun of them.

There are very many people, of both genders, who look fine and cannot find a partner.

On Reddit there is a subreddit /r/AmIUgly.

Numerous posts by perfectly fine looking people say something like “I have never had a date. Am I ugly? Do I need a nose job”. Meanwhile they look perfectly fine. These are the incels and femcels.

Incels cannot find anyone because they are awkward

Bullshit. Read them. They view women as subhuman objects who owe them sex and deserve to be treated as lesser beings.

Good lord Igor, every day you manifest your ignorance in an entirely new area.

“Most are autistic.”

Citation or GTFO.

Incels have repeatedly demonstrated that they think they are ‘owed’ a woman but that women are slavishly attracted to abusive, arrogant, shallow pricks and don’t know what’s really good for them.

Fuck ’em.

LDW56Old says ==> Bullshit. Read them. They [incels – I.C] view women as subhuman objects who owe them sex and deserve to be treated as lesser beings.

I am sure that many of them do. But I also want to point out that many bad men, narcissists, abusers, religious freaks etc etc etc find women to live with and mistreat them all the time. Some even cheat, so they find additional women to cheat with. They also have children who they also mistreat. Those are NOT incels. This is a sad fact of life. (there are plenty of bad women also, it is not just about men)

Incels cannot find partners and remain bitter and alone – so it is not about having bad beliefs – it is about lack of social skills.

Anyone fat, stupid, nasty, ugly, poor, and obese (maybe not all of the above, but some of the above) can find a partner of SIMILAR CALIBER for obvious demographic reasons.

Finding “someone” is easy, what is hard is finding happiness.

Igor, are you one of those people who believes terrible, untrue things about people on the autism spectrum? Is that you believe that some of the people who say the most vile things about women are autistic, because you expect that of them?

‘Oh, he cannot help saying that women are stupid and inferior and only exist to serve the wants and needs of a man who can keep them under a firm hand, and most women are corrupted trollops who wish to drag men down to their level as they resent the inherent rightness of men because of their own, feminine instabilities, he’s autistic after all and it’s not his fault that no self-respecting woman will denigrate herself before him.’

Igor, do you even know what an incel is? It’s not a guy who can’t get laid. I know plenty of guys like that and they sure as hell aren’t incels and I would never dare insult them with that term. An incel is a guy who wants women, but not real ones, women as he imagines them, to conform to his every whim and not have a thought of her own. He’s unable to find a woman because none of them are good and pure enough for him.

Igor: “I am not an incel, I am happily married for decades, have children etc.”

Married incels are a thing.

There’s a subreddit on the topic.

Incels cannot find partners and remain bitter and alone – so it is not about having bad beliefs – it is about lack of social skills.

Wow. You are consistent Igor: when it’s pointed out and demonstrated [repeatedly] that your “facts” on something are completely contradicted by reality, you double down and show you don’t care about that pesky reality.

CT believers assert that everyone is wrong – the scientific consensus, experts, universities, mainstream media, governmental agencies from all over the world are wrong but they alone are correct. They spin intricate imbroglios that illuminate how they are being sabotaged and maligned by powerful enemies.
HOWEVER when they have to show evidence- the data aren’t there: instead we get convoluted explanations, insults, excuses and suspect witnesses/ studies. Biases and insinuations rule. Experts are paid off, compromised and criminal. Governments are corrupt. Media is fake.

One of their prime targets is Wikipedia: its sources present consensus and expertise which CT believers reject. Alt med and anti-vax luminaries despise the site and its contributors who are labelled as ‘pathetic guys living in their mothers’ basements’.
But who exactly is doing that labelling? ** The ones I’m most familiar with have little to no standard education in life sciences or psychology: you can tell by their explanations, references and citations. As Orac notes, Gary Null is a leader in Wikipedia hate mongering because it has been painfully honest in its appraisal of his background, abilities and business activities. I have had the dubious pleasure of monitoring his work over the years and meeting him in person. He’s a phony: he tells tall tales that change to fit given situations; his education is barely beyond secondary school level as shown through his misuse of language and misattributions of common knowledge. If you doubt me, listen to his broadcasts on 15 minutes should be enough for an evaluation.

Monitoring alternative fact producers like him, Adams, Del, RFK jr and others provides the sceptic with insight into their MO and understanding of the world and it isn’t pretty. Tread carefully.

** Orac describes both outlier doctors/ scientists and under-educated naysayers

Denice, approximately how old are you? Do you remember the 2003 war on Iraq?

Literally all “media” was up lying about “Saddam threat”, “anthrax” (mailed from a govt research lab), “weapons of mass destruction” and so on. Questioning of the government’s statement was nonexistent.

I was, at the time, an attentive reader of news and no more than that. I was a young career-minded newly-minted married father.

Possibly the only thing that made me different from many other people is that I studied “critical reading” a few years prior to pass the GMAT test and I actually remember the news I read so I can compare new news with old news.

The war on Iraq was a classical example of a “conspiracy”.

The media lied.
The experts lied.
The government lied.

It was all so painfully obvious to anyone who understands what “weapons of mass destruction” can and cannot do militarily, and those who remember news.

At the time I thought that the Iraq war conspiracy was an exception to the general trends.

Until Covid hit, that is.

“The media lied.
The experts lied.
The government lied”

Errmm. If the media reported what they were told was the evidence and facts then how did they lie? Or do you think the reporters would go to Iraq and confirm the evidence themselves?

Which experts? Many experts didn’t have the ‘certainty’ that the governmental statements had.

Which experts? Many experts didn’t have the ‘certainty’ that the governmental statements had.

Yup — and igor’s saying media, experts, and government lied is simply the old habit of lumping all members of a group into a single, gullible, non-thinking blob, as the anti-vaxx folks do when they say that all scientists and researchers are on the take. It’s an asinine assertion [which we’ve come to expect from igor] but if you believe him you’d conclude that nobody reported on the massive protests in NYC in February of 2003.

It’s also the case that Igor would have you ignore

Several prominent members of the military and national security communities, particularly those who favor a more realist approach to international relations, have been critical of both the decision to invade Iraq and the prosecution of the War.

On July 28, 2002, less than eight months before the invasion of Iraq,The Washington Post reported that “many senior U.S. military officers” including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed an invasion on the grounds that the policy of containment was working.

A few days later, Gen. Joseph P. Hoar (Ret.) warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the invasion was risky and perhaps unnecessary.

Morton Halperin, a foreign policy expert with the Council on Foreign Relations and Center for American Progress warned that an invasion would increase the terrorist threat.

In a 2002 book, Scott Ritter, a Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991–98, argued against an invasion and expressed doubts about the Bush Administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein had a WMD capability. He later accused the Bush administration of deliberately misleading the public.

I think [The Bush Administration] has stated that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and that’s as simple as they want to keep it. They don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty things such as if you bury a Scud missile to hide it from detection, there is a little thing called corrosion. Where do you hide the fuel, how do you make this stuff up, how do you align it. Because when you disassemble it, there is a process called re-alignment. There is a factory involved in that. And then you have to test launch it to make sure that the alignment works, and that’s detectable, and they haven’t done that. There is a lot of common sense things that go into consideration of whether or not Iraq has an operational weapons of mass destruction capability.

Brent Scowcroft, who served as National Security Adviser to President George H. W. Bush was an early critic. He wrote an August 15, 2002 editorial in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Don’t attack Saddam,” arguing that the war would distract from the broader fight against terrorism and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which should be the U.S.’s highest priority in the Middle East. The next month, Gen. Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that war in Iraq would distract from the War on Terrorism.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East and State Department’s envoy to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, echoed many of Scowcroft’s concerns in an October 2002 speech at the Middle East Institute. In a follow-up interview with Salon, Zinni said he was “not convinced we need to do this now,” arguing that deposing Saddam Hussein was only the sixth or seventh top priority in the Middle East, behind the Middle East peace process, reforming Iran, our commitments in Afghanistan, and several others.

By January 19, 2003, Time magazine reported that “as many as 1 in 3 senior officers questions the wisdom of a preemptive war with Iraq.”

Of course there’s much more.

Again, igor, if you believe nobody in the “experts, media”, or “government” opposed the war, you are as clueless about history as you are on every other issue you’ve ever commented on.

“Questioning of the government’s statement was nonexistent.”

Then you weren’t paying attention.

“I studied “critical reading”

I’m sure that helped you with your grade school level knowledge of science, but not much else.

“Until Covid hit..”

and people like you began lying about covid and the vaccines, because you could get stupid people to pay to read you BS

Critical reading reveals that Igor didn’t say he passed “critical reading” – just that he studied it. Critical reading reveals that his wife and children only appeared in his posts when his basement-dwelling odor became a bit too whiffy. I expect he’ll drop news about his Nobel Prize or his MENZA membership soon (he thought the invitation said MENSA – oops – but now those nice people at the Nigerian office of MENZA have all his bank details).

(he thought the invitation said MENSA – oops – but now those nice people at the Nigerian office of MENZA have all his bank details).

I doubt Igor was approached by or expressed interest in mensa, and certainly is not a member. The only people who take mensa seriously are members and they tell you they are all the time. The information repetition rate is quite similar to that of vegans.

@ Igor:

Of course, the news was wrong but how do we know this? Because the story was followed up, researched by reporters/ investigators and shown to be a load of BS created by miserable hacks which was also reported by the news.
There are similar situations in science: a drug/ vaccine possibly causes serious side effects which are reported, investigated and may be discontinued or issued with a warning and monitored carefully by prescribers.
Systems like these can be self-correcting EVENTUALLY because they involve competition amongst researchers/ reporters.

Your objections resemble those of the people I survey:
don’t trust the news, the NYT was wrong about the war,
don’t trust the CDC, it was wrong about a drug,
don’t trust the government, they lied about the war

So what are your choices?
Alt med/ anti-vaxxers/ Substack hacks who put forth outrageously unlikely scenarios for political/ economic events as well as unrealistic
unsupported stories about health/ illness which are never corrected?
There are loons who still believe that hiv/aids is not real, that vaccines cause autism and that diet cures all serious illnesses AND they excoriate advocates like Orac and Wikipedia who mercilessly reveal their MO.

Whoever said that life or institutions were perfect? That doesn’t mean that that they have no value whatsoever. Some outlets and institutions have greater value than others and sceptics themselves can research them in an unbiased fashion: when there are important events, who in the world seeks out blogger/ social media ‘news’? There are standard sources for news including international sources which I read all the time even when I have to translate them. You forget that Orac and many people here including me search out alternative sources deliberately to compare them with standard media and other alternatives.

Here’s a quick question for you:
Do you consider anything RFKjr writes about vaccines to be of value other than as a source of negative examples?


==> Of course, the news was wrong but how do we know this? Because the story was followed up, researched by reporters/ investigators and shown to be a load of BS created by miserable hacks which was also reported by the news.

That’s not how I knew the news was wrong. I was paying attention to what I was reading and I immediately realized (before the war) that a conspiracy was under way, the media lied, the government lied, the expects lied etc.

I did not need experts to tell me this! Many experts told us the opposite actually.

Why? Because it was painfully obvious, AT THE TIME IT WAS HAPPENING, to anyone paying attention that the Iraq war was a conspiracy based on false claims about “WMD” and complicit media. What the newspapers wrote was false and inconsistent with the most basic facts and logic.

Your reverence for “experts” is therefore totally misplaced. Experts do have their place, but they do not substitute for critical thinking and asking “how can these outlandish claims possibly be true even if experts say they are true”.

==> Systems like these can be self-correcting EVENTUALLY because they involve competition amongst researchers/ reporters.

Well, we know now that Iraq war was based on a lie and a conspiracy. But it does not mean that the system is self correcting. The war happened. People died. etc. There was no real correction.

The supposed “correction” was a few newspapers publishing footnote back-page notices a few years later, about how they “should have been more diligent”. But they lied, and failed in their most basic journalistic duty of being skeptical about what they are reporting on.

Nowadays, the newspapers are much worse than they were in 2002-2003. They propagandize readers instead of informing, to a much greater extent than before.

None of the most important newspapers displayed a iota of skepticism about Covid vaccines after Biden was sworn in. There was plenty of skeptical talk in 2020, now forgotten, about “Trump vaccine”. In 2021, the press were raking in CDC grant money and Pfizer ad money, all in on the vaccines.

This lack of skepticism was the most obvious tell that something was seriously wrong, by the way.

I am so glad that I saved most of my immediate family from the Covid vaccines. Unfortunately, one very close family member was vaccinated, to a very deleterious effect.


Please be so kind to not tell me how I think.
As NumberWang, Idw and Julian illustrate, people did not all accept the ruse about Iraq and protested across the globe immediately: the media were not all deaf, dumb and blind either.
My politics are further left than you imagine. I follow international news from various countries and different political perspectives.

Getting back to SBM and vaccines:
You base your objections about vaccines on what you find on the internet and from anecdotes YET you also read Orac and Company who supply research based analysis, often linking to sources. Orac presents finely detailed commentary based on current studies AND his education and work in medicine and biology over decades as well as his study of pseudoscience.

I report on how alt med proselytisers mislead their audiences for both ego and monetary enrichment. I use my background in biology, physiology and psychology to understand how they entice followers to accept their material:
first of all, they get readers/ listeners to reject mainstream media and governmental sources as propaganda AND to vilify any sort of expertise including universities. Instead follow them!

But who are they?
Whilst Orac also discusses outlier doctors and scientists, I mainly focus upon those who have NO relevant background in medicine/ bio/ social science but who posture as experts and leaders.
I think that an early warning sign of an individual’s worth as an information source is whether they accept alternative theories about the causes of autism and hiv/aids. These questions have been researched exhaustively for decades. Yet denialists persist by rejecting SBM and common sense.

General readers do not study these areas in depth and are easily led astray by careful pseudoscientific programming which has been elevated to an artform.

With a few exceptions, you sound more like the latter group than you do like Orac et al.


Questioning of the government’s statement was nonexistent…
The media lied.
The experts lied.
The government lied.

I remember that period fairly well, and this is simply not true. Plenty of journalists and experts in the lead up to the invasion questioned, and disputed, the official line.
When the Bush Administration lied about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, Joe Wilson wrote an article revealing he was sent to check out those claims, that there was no proof, and that the White House was lying. The media published Wilson’s article.
When Tony Blair used a dossier in the UK Parliament riddled with claims about supposed Iraqi WMD abilities, the press investigated and discovered that the dossier (better known today as the “dodgy dossier”) was plagiarised word for word from a student’s thesis.
Loads of people, both inside and out Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing” queried and challenged the official line. To say that the Bush Administration’s comments weren’t questioned, or that the experts and media lied, is completely and utterly false.

GMAT is not a pass/fail, it is a test with a score, which was at the time important for getting into important colleges. (nowadays, these test scores are ignored to admit people who have low scores but need to be admitted for political reasons)

Yes, I spent about half a year studying in preparation for taking GMAT. I rented all gmat-related textbooks from the library, read all of them and did all the tests in all of those books. It was a massive effort and this is how I got the score of 720 on my GMAT (99th percentile).

By the way, high standardized admissions test scores are not indications of exceptionally high intelligence. They simply indicate that the applicant put forth the effort and had some basic mental abilities. This is exactly why colleges valued them.

What was truly invaluable in my GMAT preparation was the critical reading part – it helped me throughout my life. It opened my eyes as to how to read texts on anything controversial.

“What was truly invaluable in my GMAT preparation was the critical reading part – it helped me throughout my life. It opened my eyes as to how to read texts on anything controversial”

Not sure why you needed that. You mostly apply it to things you don’t agree with anyway. So that’s a fail.

On the other hand, every time you make a statement, I ask myself if your ‘evidence’ is strong enough to guarantee the conclusion, or your analysis is comprehensive.

Igor – I present A and B therefore…..K.
Everyone – What about C, D, E and L? The people who discovered A don’t agree with you and that’s not a B, it’s an 8.
Igor – Those are all fake letters and I’m going to ignore totally the point about the 8. Mumbleconspiracymumble K.

“nowadays, these test scores are ignored to admit people who have low scores but need to be admitted for political reasons)”

Igor seems to have a purely bullshit conspiracy for every situation.

“Yes, I spent about half a year studying in preparation for taking GMAT. I rented all gmat-related textbooks from the library, read all of them and did all the tests in all of those books. It was a massive effort and this is how I got the score of 720 on my GMAT (99th percentile).”

Sure you did.

Rejecting everything and accepting everyhing are both a form of stupidity Critical thinking means evaluating facts.

There are lots of stories that the media have lied. That’s why I’m more interested in what the medical scientists have documented than whatever media company is saying. Virologists, public health experts, others with relevant expertise are more reliable than TV talking heads (and those who write their scripts). But it seemed likely that some of the TV personalities became genuinely concerned about the health of their loved ones as Covid arrived, maybe not the Fox crew but some of the others likely did.

Viruses don’t care about political opinions.

In aaddiion every govermentt in the world did not support Iraq war
You think neocon think thanks are experts ? Brookings Institute was much less enthusiastic:
WMD assessment comes from the intelligence community. It does do mistakes, and does certainly not do public scientific research.

I feel sorry for the AIs that are being abused by these quack grifters to write their lie-spewing books (Kory has one out, too “The War on Ivermectim”).Don’t forget all of GrifterFKjrs books including his “Vax vs unvax: let the science speak” coming out in 2 weeks.

Yes, it was.

Since much of it was about letting the Geiers speak, I don’t think that title fit, either.

We had a good example of classic conspiracy theory behavior just this week when Donald Trump was going to call a press conference to release his report that would supply “irrefutable” evidence that the election was stolen from him in Georgia. He now has changed his mind and will present it in court filings.
It seems that the evidence always seems to be just around the corner, but we never get there.

He now has changed his mind and will present it in court filings.

I heard it will be in his next infrastructure week.

I happened to listen to a recent episode of <a href= “” target =” Decoding the Gurus.

Christopher Kavanagh and Matthew Browne have interviewed people like Dr Dan Wilson (episode 35) and Dr Jonathan Howard (episode 77). They have also taken on figures like Elon Musk, Bill Maher, Joe Rogan, Peter Malone and Robert McCollough, as well as Bret Weinstein and Jordan Peterson.

In this particular episode they discuss their “gurometer” which they use to rate the various secular gurus they discuss.
Each is rated on these characteristics (which are listed at about 1 hr 20 minutes into the episode.)”
1….Claimed polymathic ability
2….Anti-establishment sentiment
3….Self aggrandizement and narcissism
4….Grievance mongering
5….Encouraging of cultish dynamics
6….Conspiracy mongering (!!!)
7….Claiming to possess revolutionary theories
8….Cassandra Complex
9….Pseudo-profound bullshit and neologisms
10….Excessive profiteering

Sounds like a lot of the people that get the Insolent Treatment.

@ squirrelelite:

That list is quite accurate. Polymath and Cassandra!

Serendipitously, for this topic and recent insolence, guru par excellence, Gary Null, presented an article, the result of 7000 hours of intense scholarship, that explores why RFKjr is right about vaccines causing autism and Wikipedia is wrong., today, garynullshownotes audio.55 minutes
Listening to him, an expert in BS artistry, is a profound educational experience for sceptics.

I advance that the cult of personality overwhelms followers’ better judgement when they adore their leader: flaws are hidden, glossed over by fakery.
Observe Trump and his possible role model, Silvio Berlusconi. Wikipedia bio


In a related tidbit, the episode featured a clip of Jordan Peterson repeating the debunked claim that medical error is the #3 cause of death!

Orac’s regular commenters probably already realise that no one can get through to Igor however, we continue not for his sake but for lurkers who might take him seriously. Scoffers serve sceptics as living examples of how alt med(dlers), anti-vaxxers and contrarians function.

A common thread: they denigrate standard sources like mainstream news, governmental agencies, professionals and experts in universities or universities in general. Don’t believe them, BELIEVE ME!, they rant.
They ask readers to disregard most every source and substitute their musings instead. Errors in reportage and research DO NOT make scoffers correct. They aim at eroding the perceived value of more standard sources so that they can be considered at all
After all, anyone can say anything on the internet.

We could challenge standard science but it is meaningless without supporting data: I could assert that tectonic plates are not real, insult geological observation and educators and say that studies are fixed to benefit the quake lobby and insurance companies but it is idle folly without supporting data: I would be on shaky ground in more ways than one.

Ideas shared in cyberspace have consequences: someone might take my hypothesis seriously and build in a fault zone and someone might take Igor – or any of the usual suspects- seriously and avoid vaccination or other medical interventions and suffer the consequences. The latter scenario is happening every day because of alt med “educators” and “citizen journalists” and victims can’t easily sue anyone for damages.

Although alt med, anti-vax and contrarians reject consensus medicine and science, they substitute their own experts: as Orac shows, they usually originate from adjacent areas if they are expert at all or have no realistic qualifications so it’s not immunologists and infectious disease specialists commenting about vaccines but GPs and non-physicians; neurologists and neuroscientists aren’t consulted about the vaccine-autism “link” but others who have not actually studied brain development in depth.

Covid denialists include physicians like the FLCCC group and outliers like Malone, McCollough, Kory et al who pontificate about treatment. More outrageously, some of the most vocal “informers” have no expertise in relevant areas: RFKjr, Mike Adams, Gary Null, Sayer Ji, Aaron Siri, Naomi Wolf, Celia Farber, Larry Cook, Jennifer Margulis, Steve Kirsch, Elon Musk have NO relevant degrees or experience to speak of. We read business men. professional writers and political commenters “educating” the general public on topics they haven’t actually acquired themselves.

Many of these faux experts imagine that they can throw a few important sounding terms around to impress the marks but they don’t convince Orac or most of us.

** van den Bossche is a vet

Conspiracy theorists claim that they need to re-brand as rational theorists because they are afraid to speak out because they are worried about being labelled as a conspiracy theorist?

That doesn’t pass the sniff test.

One consistent trait of conspiracy theorists and contrarians is that they can’t wait to spout off their idiocy to anyone who will listen. And mostly to those who don’t want to listen.

Everyone who is in regular contact with a conspiracy theorist knows to try and avoid even hinting at a subject of a conspiracy, or the culture wars, or being in the same room when the news is on, because the conspiracy theorist can’t help but start talking about the latest thing that their thought leaders told them to believe.

My mom is a bleeding heart liberal, although she no longer believes in Covid vaccines. So, while she believes in certain conspiracy theories (a big one involving a recent President), she is not your typical conspiracist.

Anyway, she randomly begins to go on about political stuff, the worst being rants about a recent president.

The point is, a lot of people do rant at ones who do not want to listen!


blockquote>My mom is a bleeding heart liberal, although she no longer believes in Covid vaccines. </blockquote.

Gee, I wonder who convinced her to adopt that bit of dangerous bullshit.

“bleeding heart liberal”

Amazing that ‘giving a shit about other people’ is turned into an insult by those who would rather see children starve than see a few cents of their taxes buy food.

“bleeding heart liberal”

Amazing that ‘giving a shit about other people’ is turned into an insult by those who would rather see children starve than see a few cents of their taxes buy food.

In the early 1900s the photographs of Lewis Hine shined light on the hell businesses were putting children through when they put them to work in factories [“grease monkeys” being only one example] and that eventually led to the first child labor laws, which were good first steps.

Now stories like this

9-year-old selling lemonade raises $6,000 in 2 hours to help pay his brother’s medical bills

show that not only has the US made zero progress in working to help families beset by medical issues news emphasis has gone from highlighting the sad state that requires shit like this to be done to saying “Gee, how wonderful and inventive this 9 year old is to pitch in”.

We need more “bleeding heart liberals” around to fix the abysmally bad level of access to health care so many families have. That phrase about liberals has become a slur for many reasons, one of which is [IMO} the notion that part of government’s role is helping and protecting everyone, not just the well off, is itself wrong.

That doesn’t pass the sniff test.

You need to read between the lines. What they are really saying is that they want to be able to parade their conspiracy theories at every opportunity and not have people who know about the topics criticise them.

It is the same phenomenon as people who claim they are being silenced when people criticise their dumb ideas.

You forget that a court overturned this and ordered release. Did released documents contain any smoking guns ? I havent hear any.

I agree with Orac that trying to rebrand “conspiracy theories” as “rational theories” is a stupid idea.

The term “conspiracy theory” is inherently descriptive, not judgmental. A conspiracy theory is a theory that alleges a malign conspiracy among powerful players.

Some conspiracy theories are correct and pass the test of time and become accepted narratives of historical events (Watergate is one example among many). Some do not pass the test of time and are eventually discarded. That’s a normal process of discovery.

For example, “Trump colluded with Russia and stole the 2016 election” is a conspiracy theory. Is it a true theory or not? You can share your opinion in comments.

I do not believe, therefore, that this term is inherently bad. If so, I do not see any reason why people exploring various conspiracies should not refer to their theories as conspiracy theories.

Quite to the contrary, the term needs to be used and carried with pride when truthful, evidence-based research leads to a well-founded suspicion of conspiracy. Each such conspiracy theory needs to be treated with utmost skepticism to chellenge and verify its truthfulness, of course.

I do not ever invent any conspiracy theories, however I like to publish posts exploring how past “conspiracy theories” become accepted and how their outcomes often are rebranded as “good for us” when the conspirators can no longer hide the outcome.

For example, consider a recent Telegraph article “UK birth slump dubbed ‘good for planet’ as number of babies born hits 20-year low”. Its first published edition was titled “UK population collapse ‘good for the planet’ as number of newborns hits 20-year low”. The article described that “population collapse” in the UK, which was previously described as conspiracy theory, is actually “good for the planet”.

I wrote a post discussing that article, and noted that the Telegraph neglected to mention that its main and only expert cited, Oxford Prof. Sarah Harper, is a senior adviser to the World Economic Forum.

This WEF adviser is thrilled about “UK population collapse” and the reduction in CO2 emissions to follow. I understand how simple math means that fewer people means fewer CO2 emissions, fewer cars, and less food eaten. The article points out that well-off countries emit 29 times more CO2 than the less-developed countries.

However, then the article goes on and highlights that importation of immigrants from poor countries overrides the collapse of birth rates among the natives. It seems contradictory to cheer declines in births as a way to reduce emissions, only to negate them with immigration that again brings people willing to work hard and consume a lot.

This contradiction between their stated goals and actions brings a question “what do they really want”.

Note that, I, an immigrant, have nothing against other immigrants, who usually come to work hard and become successful. Immigrants, as individuals wanting to live well, are just as good people as natively born citizens.

But why the insistence on bringing more people into well-off countries, when they want reductions in well-off populations to stem the CO2 emissions?

My recent post that mused about these questions (while remaining strictly confined to the evidence in the Telegraph article), was republished on Infowars.

The Infowars post is titled ==> Population Collapse “Good for the Planet”, WEF Adviser Prof Sarah Harper Explains

Far from being a conspiracy theory, my post simply cites one article, explains that its expert is a senior WEF adviser, and ask a question about a strange inconsistency between their stated goals and actions.

“strange inconsistency between their stated goals and actions.”

Errm. What inconsistency? If the population declines then there are fewer people. The fact that you redistribute population from other areas doesn’t mean that the population hasn’t declined overall.

Not that I personally give a poop what this professor says but her bio implies that she’s an expert on the effects of an aging population. So, rather than assuming that WEF are about to murder everyone in their beds for the benefit of rare frogs, you should wonder if this is her personal opinion.

Get back to us when you have something…

…and yes, I do realise that you’re talking about the idea that replacing population growth with immigration keeps the population at a similar level. Therefore not reducing pollution and consumerism at a local level. However, in the UK immigration is usually cited as a good thing to fill skill and labour gaps. Which wouldn’t be as needed if the population was lower. So slightly more nuanced than your immediate ‘grab your guns’ attitude.

Do you realise that this is a newspaper article citing an advisor to the WEF? Unless you think that the Telegraph is WEF…..

Unless you think that the Telegraph is WEF…..

Most likely he has some of his crazy conspiracy theory BS about the WEF and what he imagines it is about.

Watergate was indeed a conspiracy, but everyone was not involved: media, scientists, doctors., all goverments in the world. Real conspiracies are like Watergate.
Russia has reason to love Trump and has its bot army. Your ilk would certainly connect the dots, but evidence is needed.
WEF on population
Do you know about contraception ? Or that more people means more customers ? Japan is now trying to boost birth rate, and it is not only.

When we are intoit, can you produce WEF senior advisors list (an example of critical thinking),

Sadly, I do not have such a list.

However, it was a pretty simple guess to look up WEF membership and role, for an Oxford professor opining in the Telegraph how population collapse is such a great thing.

The small look-up effort definitely brought fruit!

Aarno, your link is invalid, but I remember reading that article when it was published – I read most WEF agenda articles as part of my daily activity

Aarno, I cite WEF articles in my posts.

WEF articles are written in an extremely boring and patronizing style. WEF agents and followers know this and read them – but the style prevents the general public from understanding of what they are planning.

So my posts discuss and cite WEF articles, but they also explain what they mean.

The WEF is very interesting to write about.

@Igor Chudov “WEF agents and followers”
So articles are boring, because there is no conspiracy evidence, but you ad it.
Interesing thing is that you think the way to hide conspircy is boring style..

“The WEF is very interesting to write about.”

And this is why I’m sticking to my claim that Igor writes fanfiction. Because the idea that the WEF is boring, so anything from/about it needs translating into something people will want to read and then needs added context, but cool context that people will want to read about even more, is basically showing that he takes just about everything as a writing prompt.

My recent post… was republished on Infowars.

The fact that infowars took your article and published it says that your article is completely and utterly full of baseless conspiracy theories.

Maybe Igor aspires to a regular byline on Natural News.

He’ll have to amp up his crazy just a bit, though. Mix in some international banker conspiracies* and germ theory denial and he’ll fit right in.

*he’s already obsessed with Bill Gates.

he’s already obsessed with Bill Gates.

Has he named Soros as one of the enemies yet, or mentioned the UN? I think he’d need to check off those spots on the “batshit crazy Bingo card” at some time.

In addition to Infowars, now it is on zerohedge too, titled: UK Population Collapse “Good For The Planet”, WEF Adviser Prof Sarah Harper Explains

Keep in mind, all my post does is simply retelling the title and content of one Telegraph article.

My main contribution to the story was discovering that Prof. Harper is a senior adviser to the World Economic Forum, a fact that the Telegraph neglected to mention.

Lastly, based on the same Telegraph article, I ask my readers what kind of sense does it make to celebrate “population collapse” among the native population of the UK reducing CO2 output, while importing immigrants who, no doubt, want to live well and produce even more CO2.

This creates a disconnect between stated goals (reducing CO2 via population decline) and the outcome (immigration keeping population stable and NOT reducing CO2). I hope that my readers can clarify this contradiction!

There are no far-fetched conspiracies involved in my post!!!


blockquote>In addition to Infowars, now it is on zerohedge<.blockquote>

Jesus igor, saying those to festering pools of dishonesty, bigotry, racism, authoritarianism, and lies have picked up your person bit of bullshit is not a good thing for your reputation — or it wouldn’t be if you had any reputation left that wasn’t tarnished.

Telegraph did not say that Harper is senior adviser to WEF , because she is not. Where did you get the idea ?
There is no policy of population reduction. Women just use contraception, you know.

“This creates a disconnect between stated goals (reducing CO2 via population decline) and the outcome (immigration keeping population stable and NOT reducing CO2). I hope that my readers can clarify this contradiction!”

Yes. World population is reduced, therefore overall CO2 is reduced. What happens locally depends on governmental policies. It’s a theory Igor. Not a plan detailing practicalities. Try actually looking at all facets, rather than pretending to.

So my posts discuss and cite WEF articles, but they also explain what they mean.

the bolded part should be have my conspiracy guided lies about what I think they mean

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