The Grand Conspiracy

The Grand Conspiracy is a piece of skeptical wisdom in two parts – first, the grander the conspiracy, the less likely it is to be true; second, the grander the conspiracy, the more likely somebody who already believes in the conspiracy will assume contrary evidence is in fact part of the conspiracy. I use the example of “flat earth,” an idea that gained popularity in the 19th century in certain religious circles, and has gained ground today.

Which News Sources are Trustworthy?

With recent revelations that main stream media outlets actively engage in misinformation through their use of narrative techniques, many people who formerly had an expectation that the news presented facts are in a position where it is unclear who should be trusted and whether anyone can be. The narrative techniques used by media outlets to alter audience perception of reality I have discussed elsewhere, but they essentially boil down to storytelling techniques – omitting certain facts and re-ordering the facts, as well as adding emotional reactions – which allow the reader or viewer to fill in gaps and create a story in their memory that is not accurate.

The problem is that most media outlets use this approach constantly, making it difficult to determine the truth without taking in lots of media and being constantly on guard for appeals to your own bias. My best practical advice, which I discuss in the video below, is to try to get as much news as possible from the sources physically closest to newsworthy events. Local papers often provide context that is omitted by the big newspapers and cable news channels but which provides a more realistic understanding of events and also, in many cases contains more facts in general. When it comes to things like scientific papers, it is best to look at the source if you are capable of understanding it, but that is not always an option for people who lack research experience or expertise.

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