My name is Daniel from Texas.
My question is how do you reach someone who
is maybe a conspiracy theorist or someone
who is anti-vaccines, someone who is staunchly
scientifically illiterate and agree with them
on what a good source of facts is?
How do I recommend reasoning with a conspiracy
Right now, the last couple of months I’ve
been messing around with this idea of cognitive
This is to say you have a world view; You’re
presented with evidence that conflicts with
the world view; So you either have to change
your world view, which is hard because you’ve
lived your whole life with it, or you just
dismiss the evidence and dismiss the authorities
that may have provided the evidence.
The authority could be a person or it could
be a book.
Or, excuse me, an article on the electric-internet-computer-machine.
So you dismiss the evidence, so that you don’t
have this discomfort or conflict in your mind—this
That’s what I’m working with right now,
and apparently the way to overcome that is
to say, “We’re all in this together, let’s
learn about this together.”
Present the conspiracy theorist with the idea
that he or she may be rejecting evidence because
it’s just so uncomfortable.
And you’re in it together.
We’re in it together.
I’m uncomfortable too.
But when it comes to moon landings, just ask
the person how you would generate all that
The warehouses full of documentation that
NASA created to make landings on the moon
would overwhelm anybody trying to do it on
It would just be very difficult to print all
And just understand it’s a process.
Somebody who has a world view that’s inconsistent
with evidence—and I may have some—it takes
a while for you to turn around.
Like the example of palm reading it’s not
something that people reverse their ideas
It takes, in my experience it takes about
two years for somebody to sort of look at
palm reading, look at cold-reading or a tarot
card reading for a while and then realize
that these tarot card readers/palm readers
are just taking information that you’ve
given them, the client has given them, and
feeding it back to you.
It takes a long time and in the same way people
who are anti-vaccine I think have just lost
sight of the history.
Vaccines—you know, part of the reason I’m
able to be here talking with you is my grandparents
did not die in 1918 during the Spanish flu
when it is estimated 50 million people died—Twice
as many people as were killed in combat in
World War I died of this disease.
If you go to old cemeteries you can see these
tombstones of very young people who died of
So people just lost sight of history, and
we all tend to go, “Well look at the facts.
Change your mind!”
But it takes people a couple of years to change
So my recommendation, Daniel, is: stick with
You’ll get frustrated, the person will get
frustrated, but present the idea of cognitive
This is my latest idea about a way to work
together to a scientific understanding.