Conspiracy Theories and the Scientific Method

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Conspiracy Theories and the Scientific Method by Mind Map: Conspiracy Theories and the Scientific Method

1. "You can't prove he's wrong!"

1.1. I don't have to prove he's wrong - he has to prove he's right.

2. You Are Not So Smart podcast 016: Conspiracy Theories

2.1. "Big events need big causes."

2.2. "Anomaly hunters"

2.3. Pattern recognizers

3. We love stories; we love mystery.

4. Lack of understanding about how often coincidences occur - especially if you look hard enough

4.1. Lincoln and Kennedy similarities

4.2. "Ghosts Caught on Film'

5. Cognitive Dissonance

5.1. Self-Presentation

5.2. Self Esteem

5.3. Once you have very publicly stated a position, it's hard to go back and say you were wrong.

5.4. The Psych Files episode 8: Cognitive Dissonance Theory: Why Contradictions Bother Us So Much

6. The Psych Files: Coincidence or Synchronicity? You Be The Judge

7. Examples

7.1. We didn't land on the moon

7.2. JFK was not killed by a lone gunman

7.3. 9/11 was a US government conspiracy to...

7.4. Titanic

7.4.1. Did not sink

7.4.2. Was fired on by a German U-Boat

8. Hypothesis Testing

8.1. Observations that are turned into Hypotheses

8.1.1. "The treatment DOES NOT ...decrease anxiety" (Ho)

8.1.1.1. Null Hypthesis

8.1.2. "The treatment DOES decrease anxiety" (H1)

8.1.2.1. Alternative Hypothesis

8.2. Hypotheses are operationally defined

8.2.1. The treatment consists of...

8.2.2. anxiety is defined as....

8.3. Study is conducted; data is collected and analyzed

8.4. The decision based on the data is...

8.4.1. "Fail to reject the null" - i.e., "I got nothin'". I have no evidence to suggest that the null is false

8.4.2. "Reject the null" - "I've got evidence to suggest that something is going on here."

8.4.3. We DO NOT: say that we "accept the alternative hypothesis".

8.4.4. We DO NOT: say that we have "proven" anything

8.5. This approach leaves us open to new findings which may contradict old ones. It is designed to be open minded - to allow for new findings to correct old ones. New evidence can always be introduced which may add to or overturn old conclusions.

8.5.1. ex: an interaction - the treatment works for this subset of people, but not for these

8.6. How it is twisted by conspiracy therorists

8.6.1. "Oh - so not all scientists agree!"

8.6.2. "They're not 100% sure!"

8.6.2.1. Life is too complex to reduce to 100% certainties

9. Notes from episode 214 of The Psych Files podcast