Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Myth #4: Conspiracy theorists believe in UFOs / Aliens / Apollo Moon / Holocaust denial

This is a straw man and an ad hominem fallacy. Not all conspiracy theorists believe in the same things, nor does believing in aliens invalidate their arguments on other theories. The only thing linking these things is that they are all perceived to be conspiracy theories. Each should be evaluated on its own merits.

However, if a theorist bases their beliefs on poor argumentation, then other conspiracy theorists may want to distance themselves from him/her or question that theorist's ability to support their own ideas. Many such people are accused of being deliberately planted to discredit other theories, a technique called the 'poisoned well'. The media then proceeds to discredit an entire investigative movement based on a few silly theories - a strawman attack.

When the media lumps anybody who doesn't trust the government version of 9-11 into the category of flat earthers and holocaust deniers, any real conspiracy there might have been is given the ultimate defense. Namely, a pre-emptive, universal ad hominem on anyone who would dare talk about it publicly, the archetypal 'tin foil hatter'.