During the show last night (the debate that was not a debate) Frank Arduini mentioned his list of Ten Key Characteristics of Nut-Job Conspiracy Theorists. Frank was kind enough to provide a copy so I could post them here.
1. Religious zeal.
Nut-jobs generally believe that they are participants in a holy / patriotic / moral crusade, and hence their opponents are not merely political or ideological opponents, they are evil infidels.
2. Impermeability to incontrovertible fact.
It does not matter how conclusively or comprehensively an argument or assertion has been refuted, nut-jobs never abandon an argument once ventured. Nut-job lies never die.
3. Willingness to embrace the impossible.
Nut-job arguments regularly cross the line from excruciatingly improbable to physically impossible. Nut-jobs fearlessly violate the laws of physics and propose theories that rend the time-space continuum.
4. Abhorrence of simplicity (Rube Goldberg’s Razor) .
Nut-jobs never settle for a simple solution to a problem when a hopelessly complex and idiotic alternative can be proposed. “Occams Razor” is anathema to nut-jobs.
5. Emotional (and other) projection.
It is almost impossible to read someone else’s emotional state or actually know anything about them across the Internet. So nut-jobs regularly attribute their own emotional states, prejudices and motives to their opponents. This is often also called “Irony blindness.”
6. Anomaly Mining.
Nut-jobs are tireless in their search for minuscule anomalies and coincidences around which they assemble vast complexes of suspicion, most of which are actually irrelevant to their cause. The tiniest and most meaningless detail will often take on a life of its own, rendering their theories even more opaque and incomprehensible to rational observers.
7. Simultaneous contradictory beliefs.
Nut-jobs often imagine at the same time and even in the same sentence that (for example) they are fighting forces which are both super-humanly brilliant and powerful … and completely incompetent.
8. Irrational anticipation of imminent victory.
Nut-jobs are often convinced that they are just one day/argument/case away from completely vanquishing their rhetorical foes. They will believe this for years and years and years and…
9. Inability to comprehend disagreement.
Nut-jobs cannot conceive of anybody honestly disagreeing with them. Therefore anybody who disagrees must be either “part of the conspiracy,” paid to pretend they believe something they do not, or victims of violent extortion.
10. The Appeal to Galileo.
Nut-jobs know that they are considered nut-jobs. So they regularly appeal to “great nut-jobs of history” ; who were eventually proven to not be so nutty after all. Ignoring that Galileo was actually never considered a nut-job in the first place, for every nut-job rehabilitated by history ten thousand nut-jobs resolutely remained nut-jobs.
Keep these in mind next time you visit one of the “bad” places listed on the right side of this blog.