Friday, August 31, 2012

Sometimes you've just got to let a person believe what they want

Ever have a friend or a family member who believes in a lot conspiracy theories, or pseudoscience, or maybe even just a couple conspiracy theories?

Well, you're not alone. In fact I know several people who believe in a conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. Heck, even I use to believe in several conspiracy theories myself when I was younger.

So now to the topic at hand:

How do you handle a friend, or a family member, who might believe in a conspiracy theory, even a mundane one?

Well, first it depends on how they're handling the fact that you don't believe in the conspiracy theory. If they are being sensible about it, and they don't appear to take it to seriously, then it's fine to continue the conversation with them, but if their tone starts to become hostile, or if you're having this conversation with them over the internet, and they start using certain tools of the conspiracy theorist trade, such as posts of attrition, then you have to ask yourself what is more important: beating the person down to the point where you believe that you have won and have made their argument invalid, or your relationship with that person?

Sometimes it's best just to let it go and bow out, especially if the person doesn't take the conspiracy theory so seriously that it's to the point where it affects their lives, and the way they view those who don't believe in what they believe, and the world around them.

Bowing out doesn't mean you are agreeing with them, or at the very least that you think that their argument is a valid one, it just means that you don't want to fight with them any more, and you should make it well known that you don't wish to fight with them any more, and maybe even apologize for upsetting them, but, you also need to make it well known that you don't believe that the conspiracy theory or the pseudoscience that they claim to be real is real, or at least that it doesn't have enough evidence for you to accept that it might be real.

You must also make it very clear that you really are just bowing out, and not backing down on your claim, and you must also hold to your own self agreement that you won't go after them when they post something you don't agree with as well, no matter how tempting it is to "correct" them, just resist the urge, and if the website you're having your debate on has a way of hiding certain posts that person makes, and those posts really are upsetting you, and are making you feel like you need to "correct" them, then you should take the option of hiding those posts.

Also, don't back down on the fact that what they believe really is either a conspiracy theory or pseudoscience, even if they don't believe that, and believe what they believe is factual, and even tells you that they are insulted by the fact that you're calling what they believe is either a conspiracy theory or pseudoscience, they still need to be reminded that what they believe either isn't real, or probably is not real. Most people who do believe in conspiracy theories and pseudoscience tend to be in denial of the fact that what they believe doesn't have enough evidence, or even any evidence, to support their claims

In the end, it's really best to let them find out on their own that the conspiracy theories and pseudosciences that they believe is real, really isn't. Challenge them to do the research on their own, and from actual, reliable sources, and not some Youtube videos, or propaganda websites, or websites that promote conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

Of course, if their beliefs in pseudoscience and conspiracy theories really is affecting their lives and the way they view the world and people who don't believe in that stuff, then you need to suggest to them that they may need some psychiatric help.

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