Discover more from The Tell with Christine Axsmith
The Sliding Scale of Conspiracies
In 1962, Walter Wilcox created a system to categorize conspiracy theories on a continuum from mild to bonkers in what he called a “commitment to conspiracy.” That was “a measure of the extent to which a given article in a press publication of the radical right was devoted to a conspiracy theory.” See Escaping The Rabbit Hole by Mick West.
The idea was to place these theories in a row from not-so-weird to batshit crazy. From Big Pharma conspires to sell drugs we don’t need for profits, to chemtrails that are attempts to kill people by releasing poison gases out of the back of airplanes.
And every one of us falls on that spectrum.
He included a “non-rationality scale” to go with it that went from 0 (no clear evidence of non-rationality) to 7 (paranoic overtones, confused, few or no credible facts).
The thing is that wherever a person falls on the conspiracy spectrum, they are offended by conspiracy theories that are even a little more extreme than theirs. One space alien conference wanted to ban the Flat Earthers because they thought the association would make them look bad.
So the answer isn’t to spout facts at a conspiracy nut, it is to move them on the conspiracy spectrum to something more mild.
Oh, and manners. When are people going to learn that name-calling and yelling don’t change minds?
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