April 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm (bloggocks, comedy, Max Dunbar)

Urban75 was the first political website I got into and from the looks of this piece the site is still worth reading. Here Donna Ferentes offers ten basic characteristics of comment box crazies.


Arrogance. They are always fact-seekers, questioners, people who are trying to discover the truth: sceptics are always ‘sheep’, patsies for Messrs Bush and Blair etc.

Inability to answer questions. For people who loudly advertise their determination to the principle of questioning everything, they’re pretty poor at answering direct questions from sceptics about the claims that they make.

Inability to employ or understand Occam’s Razor. [C]onspiracy theorists never notice that the small inconsistencies in the accounts which they reject are dwarfed by the enormous, gaping holes in logic, likelihood and evidence in any alternative account.

Inability to tell good evidence from bad. Conspiracy theorists have no place for peer-review, for scientific knowledge, for the respectability of sources. The fact that a claim has been made by anybody, anywhere, is enough for them to reproduce it and demand that the questions it raises be answered, as if intellectual enquiry were a matter of responding to every rumour. While they do this, of course, they will claim to have ‘open minds’ and abuse the sceptics for apparently lacking same.

Using previous conspiracies as evidence to support their claims. This argument invokes scandals like the Birmingham Six, the Bologna station bombings, the Zinoviev letter and so on in order to try and demonstrate that their conspiracy theory should be accorded some weight (because it’s ‘happened before’.) They do not pause to reflect that the conspiracies they are touting are almost always far more unlikely and complicated than the real-life conspiracies with which they make comparison, or that the fact that something might potentially happen does not, in and of itself, make it anything other than extremely unlikely.

And this one is the key:

Fondness for certain stock phrases. These include Cicero’s ‘cui bono?’ (of which it can be said that Cicero understood the importance of having evidence to back it up) and Conan Doyle’s ‘once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth’. What these phrases have in common is that they are attempts to absolve themselves from any responsibility to produce positive, hard evidence themselves: you simply ‘eliminate the impossible’ (i.e. say the official account can’t stand scrutiny) which means that the wild allegation of your choice, based on ‘cui bono?’ (which is always the government) is therefore the truth.

The stock phrase is always the giveaway. You can while away a whole lunch break on a CiF thread playing bullshit bingo. Look for perjorative repetition of ‘Zionism’ or ‘Zionist’; exhortations to ‘Open your mind’ to anyone who disagrees; and of course the ultimate: ‘They were war-gaming it, you fool!’


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