Today in “It’s About Damn Time” + a Cat

The transition can formally begin, finally, only two weeks and change after everyone knew Trump had lost.

Well, not everyone, I suppose. I’m aware some alt-right QAnon types are having a dark night of the soul at the moment. Well: good. Get used to that feeling, my dudes. You’re gonna be having it for a while now.

So that this post isn’t entirely “poke the whiny conspirabigots,” here’s a tweet from the Scamperbeasts account. Look! Smudge!

— JS

54 Comments on “Today in “It’s About Damn Time” + a Cat”

  1. The timeline I see is Trump trying to incite riots until Jan. 18, when he resigns. On the 19th Pence pardons him, and on the 21st they realize that a Presidential Pardon only covers Federal crimes.

    Thanks for the cat pic, I still don’t think it is over yet ( the election crud)

  2. This has made me feel more secure in the idea that Biden will make it through to inauguration.

    Now, I think Trump et al. will continue fruitlessly fighting in courts and other means to fire up the base, but the writing is on the wall.

    As a friend put it: “Now it’s what [Trump] breaks on the way out that worries me.”

  3. That is heartening, and relieving.

    Personally, what I’ve been watching with glee is the number of Trump partisans in Georgia who are urging one another not to vote in the Senate runoff elections (or to write “Trump” in, with the same result) to punish the Republicans for not being loyal enough to their beloved leader. I just took it for granted that while there were enough anti-Trump Republicans in Georgia to push the state to Biden, those people would vote Republican for Senator, so there wasn’t a realistic chance of electing Dems to the Senate seats, in which case it’s at least two more years of Moscow Mitch as majority leader. But if the Trump hardliners don’t vote …

  4. I actually love going to RHSDs site now, even now he is steadfastly insisting that Biden will not be President. The poor fools hopes are so high and he’s taking his stupid cult with him to drink the kool-aid. Today he’s attacking Rush Slimeball for seeing the obvious. Reading the comments by those morons is just hilarious. I can’t wait to read their comments of shock on Jan 20th. I wonder how many of them will wake up and realize that they have been listening to an idiot, my guess is quite a few.

  5. One of my cats, Wayne, is blind, which doesn’t seem to slow him down much, but he does like resting in enclosed places. The laundry basket in the bedroom is one of his favorites. He does have to make sure there’s enough laundry for it to be padded, but still enough room for him to fit.

    Meanwhile, the Qdroids know Trump has until some time in January to finish his agenda, before he switches over secretly finishing his secret agenda. There are still people in Hollywood eating pizza*, and they all have to be stopped. And Hillary’s still not in jail. (Unless you’ve read the Q drop that says she’s been in jail all along and that’s just her stunt double out making speeches, which suddenly all makes sense…)

    * Some of the best giant New York slice style pizza I’ve had on the west coast was from a hole in the wall on Hollywood Blvd, back when my mother in law lived there. Maybe late 90s or at most early 00s.

  6. You should read the stuff on Parler. They don’t think he lost, and they seem to think they’re gonna rise up by the millions and violently overthrow the rest of us. It’s pretty frightening.

  7. Hmm. From the RHSDs site. “The evidence is devastating. We know the programmer who developed the vote-stealing routine. We know the Serbian team that programmed the software. We know what companies were involved and where their servers were located. We know the algorithm. We can replicate the vote totals as they were recorded. We can match the vote-switching to the data feed that went out to the media networks with the recordings of the media broadcasts.”

    You’d think if they had all that in hand, Trump would have ended the whole thing two weeks ago. And who is ‘we’ anyway? I certainly don’t know any of that.

  8. rochrist: wait, “Serbian team”? Wait, I thought the conspiracy was Venezuelan! Good heavens, how far does the spiderweb stretch?

    Or not. More seriously (slightly), I don’t know who “we” are either, and I’d really like some names in that list of the people and organizations “we” know all about. Or something fact-checkable. Last I heard, Dominion Voting Systems was wearily repeating that they don’t use Smartmatec software and are not, in fact, owned by Smartmatec, and Smartmatec was pointing out that their software was used in exactly ONE county in Los Angeles in the 2020 election and not in any of the battleground states . . . apparently, I have missed a lot due to avoiding insanity on the internet whenever possible.

    I really wish that the QAnon types mentioned in the OP were, in fact, having a “dark night of the soul” at the moment. More likely they are revved up to explain to each other what’s really going on, if only the rest of the world would wake up and listen to their Brilliant Leaders. After all, what good is a conspiracy if just anyone believes in it? Much more fun to be among the special people who know the secret truth . . .

  9. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of being a conspiracy theorist, getting to feel special in at least one way? It’s really the same thing as with marketing: selling mass produced stuff so that people can be individualistic with them…

  10. @Mary Frances, wait two years and brace yourself. QAnon has a shot at powering the GOP to taking back the House in the midterms. The majority of Republicans believe in the conspiracy theory, and elected officials are playing footsie with the plan-trusters. It’s also this weird blob that’s part political populism, part religion and part crank magnet as it’s incorporating other conspiracy theories into its movement.

  11. @Janne asks, “isn’t that the whole point of being a conspiracy theorist …”?

    There’s not necessarily a point. The word theory ought to be dropped as it implies a veneer of logic or investigation (scientific or forensic). What they’re doing is engaging in conspiracy fantasy.

    Probably it’s the mind creating a defense mechanism for cognitive dissonance or coming across an experience that is unfamiliar or agonizing. If there’s a simple explanation, a conspiracy fantasy offers a counterweight of complexity. Conversely, when there’s a complex explanation, a conspiracy fantasy offers simplicity (i.e., our modern economy is controlled by a small cabal of [villain goes here] or climate change is an attempt by scientists to impose [sinister ideology here]). The fantasist often casts themself or their group as the noble hero for bringing light to a dark truth.

  12. @Bobson Dugnutt

    The conspiracies often start small, and plausible (in the sense that they’re not actually impossible). However, belief in the conspiracy (and the heroic truthiness of the, if you will, conspiracy theists) precedes any actual evidence or willingness to follow evidence. When evidence fails to support or contradicts the conspiracy, some will abandon it, but many will make it larger, more powerful, and more complex. No evidence of x? It’s because the conspiracy is big enough to destroy all evidence of x and they control the media, anyway, so reports of conflicting evidence are fake news. Look at the Satanic Panic of the 1980s for a good example of the process. It started with claims of small, local groups engaging in evil activity. Such groups, in theory, could exist. By the end of the decade, true believers were claiming and preaching that the cult already controlled several national governments, had infiltrated the police, the mainstream churches, and so forth, and was organized internationally.

    With the current conspiracist thinking, a few will overcome their cognitive dissonance and acknowledge they were wrong, or decide they were wrong about some things. What makes it so much harder now is that they’ve had a president and ruling family who have reinforced their beliefs at the highest levels of government. That fact will warp American society for some time.

    (The rest of us know, of course, that the cats are actually running things:)

  13. Select Canadian Conservatives (with a capital “C”) have been parroting QAnon talking points in public. Finance critic Pierre Pollievre among them. The same QAnon talking points that apparently inspired one person to drive from northern Manitoba to Rideau Hall in Ottawa armed to the teeth hunting Justin Trudeau. Whoever’s been talking this cult into being, they have more than the USA alone in mind as a potential conquest.

  14. I don’t expect Trump to ever concede and I do not believe he should so long as there is reasonable evidence that there was major election issues / freud etc. at work that could have caused his loss. The key is in the facts and evidence that is found and demonstrated to the public and the courts.The evidence yet to be disclosed may show to reasonable people that the election results were flawed in a major way. I doubt that even with excellent evidence that there is time for this to work its way through the courts to reach a final decision. I also think the courts, at all levels, will be very hesitant to make any sort of consequential decision in Trump’s favor .. unless the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable.

    Post Jan. 20 .. I fully expect the democrat mob, never Trumpers and the MSM to grind Trump’s reputation into the ground. I expect him to become less and less of factor in the republican party. Other than continuing to tear Trump pieces, the MSM will ignore anything Trump will have to say about Biden’s performance. I doubt him running again in 2024 due to this and his age could well catch up with him, as it has with Biden.

    I fear we are entering Biden’s prediction of a long dark winter for the US. But I expect this long dark winter to be 2 years long and of Biden and his support crew’s making. The 2022 election could show the house being turned over. That is, unless the democrat machine have time to even better fine tune their methods of hi-jacking an election and not leave any evidence behind!

  15. I, for one, welcome our smudgy-faced feline overlord!

    In re whiny conspirabigots, the ability to make a hard distinction between “what I wish were true” and “what is, in fact, true” is an underrated life skill.

    To the extent that I practice it, it’s spared me considerable heartache.

  16. Is that post by “GARY” an intentional demonstration of all the generic principles about how a conspiracy theorist keeps believing in their theory that were just outlined by JD DeLuzio three posts back? Surely they cannot be serious? It’s all there: the conspiracy being so big as to be able to suppress all evidence, and also controlling the media. Wow.

  17. Smudge is also obviously surveying (and thus king of) whoever’s taking his picture.
    I assume that would be Spice.

  18. @Bobson Dugnutt I meant ‘point’ in the sense of ‘why believing in a conspiracy theory may seem like a good idea to someone’, essentially what you said about ‘[t]he fantasist often casts themself or their group as the noble hero for bringing light to a dark truth’ – being one of those rare special individuals with the power to see the truth better than the misled masses. But yeah, I could’ve been more clear in how I formulated that :)

  19. What we’re seeing with the Qanon types is a modern Millerite movement melting down before our eyes.

    In the 1840s, a man named Miller convinced his followers that he knew the exact date that the world was going to end. On the designated day, his followers, having sold or given away all their worldly possessions, headed to wherever in their community they thought they’d get the best view of the apocalypse. Needless to say, they were sorely disappointed.

    The immediate response, to wit, “oops, math error!” actually was believed by a sizeable number of the Millerites. Then, on the New Date (Now With Better Math!) the same drill occurred. Eventually the movement evolved into the Seventh Day Adventists.

  20. If there were compelling evidence of fraud, the media, regardless of stream position, would be wetting their pants to publish it. Bombshell revelations are profitable, y’all!

  21. The Qanon people are the 21st century version of the Millerite movement, and we’re watching it melt down before our eyes.

    In the 1840s, an evangelist named Miller convinced a large number of followers that he knew the exact date for the end of the world. On the designated day, his followers, having gotten rid of their worldly goods, went to wherever in their community they thought would be a good spot to watch the apocalypse. They were sorely disappointed. (The event was called “The Great Disappointment.”)

    The immediate response, to wit, “oops, math error!” was believed by a surprisingly large number of followers. That second date came and went uneventfully. The movement eventually became the Seventh Day Adventist church.

  22. Nothing will placate these nut jobs. I hope Biden takes them as a serious threat to democracy. Domestic terrorism is not something to ignore.

    Trump is fanning the flames of qanon conspiracies, violence, and terrorism. The man needs to be put in jail for the rest of his life. And whatever money he is using to fund his conspiracy platform, needs to be seized.

    Southern Poverty Law Center had a strategy of defunding KKK terrorists by suing them into bankruptcy. Biden needs to get the fuck out of the way of any prosecutor who wants to go after Trump. Any strategy that deplatforms trump must be pursued. Ive heard Biden might hold that prosecuting trump will “divide” the nation, but that just shows how out of touch biden is with the division Trump and his extremist supporters are already sowing division.

    Enough with the appeasement strategy in response to violence and its insane justifications. These people need to be stopped. And trump is their biggest asset and benefactor right now.

  23. 1. Can’t see the picture but I’m sure the cat is cute; we have two of our own round these parts and they rule them with iron paws.

    2. Bout time in deed; the petulant, whiny letter accompanying the authorization was to be expected from a ruthless, tantrum throwing Trumpist butthurt over being dragged mercilessly all over the internet and by the media. I hope her partisan, borderline treasonous shenanigans hover over her like a murder of crows as she navigates the job market.

    As for the disgruntled conspiracy theorists and bath-salt zombies:

    Nothing says happy Turkey Day like a right-wing lunatic fringe who has a sad

  24. If “the evidence is devastating” then they should consider handing it to the lawyers who are having their cases dismissed for lack of evidence.

  25. Here’s the thing Gary – to date there has not been ANY evidence presented either in court or in public to demonstrate that Trump lost due to anything other than more people voting for Biden than for Trump. The next piece of evidence he produces will be the very first. Rudy and the rest of the gang of incompetents that constitute Trump”s “Elite Task Force” can’t get their shit together enough to produce a convincing legal brief even if they managed to find some evidence. Hopefully, Trump will be in court trying to stay out of jail for the next few years when he isn’t in court trying to stave off bankruptcy. I fully expect that there will be a large contingent of true believers who stick with him even as he spirals downward into pathetic clamoring for attention as his legal situation gets worse and worse. I only hope that it splits the Republican base wide enough to finally drive a stake through the heart of the party once and for all.

  26. It strikes me that one thing that drives overarching conspiracy theories is hope, oddly enough. If all the bad things in the world are because of the Illuminati or the Star Chamber or the Scalzi Cats, then if we do manage to get people to open their eyes and get rid of them, the world will become a near utopia.

  27. @ Janne:

    “Is that post by “GARY” an intentional demonstration of all the generic principles about how a conspiracy theorist keeps believing in their theory that were just outlined by JD DeLuzio three posts back?”

    “Bobson Dugnutt” and “GARY” are obviously the same poster. The second post is a brilliant point-by-point illustration of the disturbed mental framework elucidated in the first.

    A: “the mind creating a defense mechanism for cognitive dissonance or coming across an experience that is unfamiliar or agonizing”

    B: “I don’t expect Trump to ever concede and I do not believe he should so long as there is reasonable evidence that there was major election issues / freud (sic) etc. at work that could have caused his loss”

    (One has to wonder… what would Freud have to say about the above?)

    A:”If there’s a simple explanation, a conspiracy fantasy offers a counterweight of complexity.”

    B: “(…) the democrat machine have time to even better fine tune their methods of hi-jacking an election and not leave any evidence behind!”

    A: “Conversely, when there’s a complex explanation, a conspiracy fantasy offers simplicity”

    B: “I also think the courts, at all levels, will be very hesitant to make any sort of consequential decision in Trump’s favor .. unless the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable.”

    A: “The fantasist often casts themself or their group as the noble hero for bringing light to a dark truth.”

    B: “The evidence yet to be disclosed may show to reasonable people that the election results were flawed in a major way.”

    Yet in spite of the overwhelming evidence, the fantasist also leaves themselves an escape-from-reality clause:

    B: “I doubt that even with excellent evidence that there is time for this to work its way through the courts to reach a final decision.”

    Well played, man. Well played.

  28. LOL!

    Sorry, Trumpist, but you can’t have it both ways.

    Bleeding hearts and woke culture are either exaggerating the degree to which America is bigoted or tax-hating bigots are the majority and Biden’s win must be the result of cheating on a grand scale.

    Arguing for a third possibility won’t fly, as an overwhelming preponderance of evidence more than suggests that Trumpism is synonymous with abject terror, status anxiety and social dominance mentality.

    Now, which is it?

    Is our country so racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, rooted in social Darwinist precepts and intolerant of the “wrong” faiths that Biden could never, ever win or are marginalized groups exaggerating about the degree to which they are disenfranchised, discriminated against and targeted by privilege holders and protectors?

    Are social injustices actually falsehoods perpetuated by the liberal media in an effort to divide the country or are they features of “real” Americanism on which most of the country agrees?

    Remember, far too many of you, Trump included, have spent the last four years embracing and demonstrating xenophobia, social Darwinism, homophobia, misogyny, nationalism and white supremacy.

    Your election-related conspiracy fantasy relies very heavily on the notion that Trumpism is more popular among voters than are liberal policies and precepts.

    So, which is it?

    You’re pushing the idea that the majority (majority specifically meaning Randian, religiously and culturally intolerant RSHDs) were disenfranchised by a small but powerful cabal of radical left SJWs with friends in low and foreign places.

    Show your work.

    Start by explaining How your fantasy gels with your repeated insistence that Trump is the “least racist president” of the “least racist” nation on the planet, even as he and his merry gaggle of feckless goons move to silence the black and brown portion of the Electorate.

    As your lot are fond of screeching, people, 80, 000, 000 of them, “simply disagree with you”; no cheating was necessary.

  29. I was into the Kennedy Conspiracy thing as a teen. But, young as I was, even I could see how what had started as a fairly straightforward theory metastasized and complexified as it had to account for contradictory evidence.

    I think some people prefer their conspiracies to be opaque, twisty, and full of secret knowledge. They want to be part of an Elect, to be able to say “I know things you don’t.”

    Me, I just wanted something horrible to make sense. When the “sensible” explanation became crazier than the official one, I bailed.

  30. Official explanation of JFK was never crazy in the first place. There was, for instance, nothing “magic” about the behavior of the “magic bullet,” and it was a great achievement in disinformation to convince a lot of people that there was.

  31. Last week, I saw a car in my dentist’s parking lot with a “Trump Won – Get Over It” bumper sticker, presumably a leftover from 2016. It made me wish for a smaller sticker with the word “Lost” on it.

  32. @Mary Frances “I really wish that the QAnon types mentioned in the OP were, in fact, having a “dark night of the soul” at the moment.”
    I suspect a simple typo by our host – surely “a long dork night” fits reality better?
    We must hope that America gets better after this serious illness. It really isn’t helping the rest of us.

  33. That awkward moment when you’re dumped for being too nuts for Trump and co.

    Even Faux News did the “back slowly away” equivalent when Powell let fly with her special brand of xenophobia and republicannibalistic (apparently, The Governer of Georgia is in on this up to his bare mouth and nose. LOL!) lunicy .

  34. McConnell is still completely in charge, so the best we can hope for is briefly arresting the slide into kleptocracy and incompetence. A few EOs will be passed, but there will be no substantive legislation or forward progress, then the Dems will lose the House in 2022 and the presidency in 2024. Time to turn the lights off on America, it had a decent run but is done. 73M people supported the orange thing, he only lost by 45,000 votes, and his policies are mainline GOP, he just screamed the quiet part out loud.

    The Qanon loons are the new normal.

  35. All the Qanon stuff is reminding me strangely of the Daybreak novels of John Barnes, the first of which is Directive 51. Daybreak starts as an internet meme, evolves into a grassroots revolution, and by the third book….well, I won’t spoiler it.

    But his description of how the Daybreak movement gives every disaffected portion of society something they need to feel part of, how it draws them in and indoctrinates them, reinforcing (often different and opposed) biases and removing avenues back to reality is chilling in light of the Q madness.

    Food for thought.

  36. For proof of the Big Steal all we really need to know is that after GA and PA announced the Biden-Harris ticket the WINNER (and collaterally then, the shame, shoggoth the LOSER), Cuba opened its Havana airport to commercial travel (with lots of testing, quarantines, tracing, etc.). JetBlue, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines immediately announced flights, individual bookings as well as charters.

    Yesterday Biden appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as his Homeland Security secretary, the Cuban American instrumental in the negotiations between Obama’s state department and Cuba’s in opening up the US and Cuba to each other back in the Before Times.

    So there we have it! Total conspiracy of Steal.

    P.S. All the US airlines seats to Havana are sold out into the next year,

  37. Not the Reddit Chris S.: Uh, how to do you figure Trump “only lost by 45,000 votes”? Is that a typo? He lost by three times that much in Michigan alone–and the popular vote difference appears to be something on the order of 6 million. (Not saying you’re wrong, given how many ways there are to figure vote differences–just wondering where the number comes from.)

    Bobson Dugnutt: The word theory ought to be dropped as it implies a veneer of logic or investigation (scientific or forensic). What they’re doing is engaging in conspiracy fantasy.

    That’s a good point. I’m going to think of them as “conspiracy fantasists” from now on, when I don’t go simply with “conspiracists.” And as for your earlier comment about “waiting to years”–I agree, and I’m already bracing myself. I think if QAnon does fade back into the fringes of sanity (big “if,” I know) it will take a lot longer than two years, and a lot of effort on the part of the saner portions of humanity.

    timrowledge: I suspect a simple typo by our host – surely “a long dork night” fits reality better?

    Snicker. Except I think calling them “dorks” is an insult to dorks everywhere, in that I’ve known some reasonably sane dorks.

  38. @Not the Reddit Chris S. The Dems may lose the House in 22, but they stand a VERY good chance of taking the Senate. There are 22 Republican Senate seats up in 22 vs only 12 Dem seats.

  39. I’d love to see a response to all the ‘ELECTION FRAUD ELEVENTY’ screaming to be a broadly announced, well funded and strongly promoted Federal program to standardize elections and make them the 5 star gold standard of transparency and un-breakability.

    Put together a funding package that makes it so any state that ‘Harrumphs’ and refuses is obviously trying to screw their election processes, and so that incumbents will have to defend an untenable ‘We oppose election transparency’ position.

    So what if it costs a bit of money, give them what they want. In the process, make it utterly impossible to several degrees of certainty for anyone to ever mess with the vote or election process.

    It could be done by just saying ‘We know the last election was one of the best run in history, but there really is no more important task than to protect our democratic institutions, so we are moving forward with the best, most bulletproof and transparent election system in the world. Why would anyone want to oppose that?

  40. @Mary Frances – the 45k is his losing margin in AZ + GA, without those loses he wins. Unfortunately the 5M popular vote margin doesn’t count, unfortunately.

  41. I am hoping someone can explain to me why the Dems would steal the POTUS, but not bother to steal any senate or congressional seats.

    I mean, they are going to be able to get Jack all done wt McConnell in control of the senate.

    If you’ve got this massive fraud machine set up and thousands of agents in place committing a crime that would shatter faith in American democracy for generations if exposed and it’s essentially no more work to change a much smaller number of votes in fewer states at the same time, but you don’t bother to make certain that you’ll have the power to actually do something? Because reasons???

    This is where the whole conspiracy really falls apart for me, without even bothering to take into account the minor issue of the nigh complete lack of evidence of voter fraud.

    Fun fact – there is at least one instance of confirmed voter fraud and for bonus points it even involves the dead voting by mail!!! Alas for the 45 (he likes hearing his name too much) followers, it was one of them using his dead mother’s mail in ballot to vote FOR 45!

  42. @Not the Reddit Chris S.:

    If Biden had lost AZ+GA (11 + 16 EV) he would still have had 279 EV (306-27) and still have won.

  43. @rochrist – Actually, Biden could lose both AZ and GA and still win, as long as he kept the trio of Penn, Michigan and Wisconsin.

  44. The conspiracy fantasy that Dominion voting machines caused the election to be stolen is ironic considering that those machines were installed by Republicans, against the express wishes of the Democrats. And as has been pointed out, if votes were switched to get Biden elected, why not flip the Senate and keep more of the House too?

    As for the current administration setting fire as they leave, it’s already happening:

  45. Because our thinking-and-talking environment is clogged with stuff used to be addressed in undergrad writing, philosophy, and even speech courses but seems to have been abandoned in the years since I last taught–a few item that keep floating to the windows of my Magic 8-Ball mind:

    About conspiracy theories in general. (And I have no problem with calling them “theories,” which is to say attempts to build models that account for collections of purported evidence. A theory can be shoddily constructed of crappy purported evidence, especially with the application of sufficient quantities of “if.”)

    Epicycles–look at the development of Ptolemaic astronomical models as they had to accommodate increasing amounts of observational data. And at how geocentric astronomy collapsed under the weight of that data.

    Closed epistemological systems–especially in matters of evidence-vetting, but including the kinds of analysis/parsing allowed.

    Casuistic stretching (probably inaccurately remembered from reading Kenneth Burke fifty years ago)–the adjustment of principles or categorical systems to accommodate increasingly complex and perhaps contradictory elements. (See also “epicycles.”)

    I’m too fatigued to knit this stuff into a coherent argument, but then anybody I thought needed convincing wouldn’t listen anyway. (Memories of dozing students in 8:00 a.m. classes.) But “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

  46. Chris Gerrib: Yeah, I thought those were the numbers (which is partly why I was confused, Not the Reddit Chris S). If Biden had also lost Wisconsin (the state with the lowest vote-difference, I think) he’d have lost the three states by a total of about 65,000 votes or so–and Trump still wouldn’t have won the electoral college; the election would have been a tie (which would have been a Bad Thing, in my opinion, but still wouldn’t have been a Trump win or a Biden loss). Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania was by about 80,000 votes, and he won Michigan by about 150,000 votes–pretty big margins, and those two states add up to 36 electoral college votes, more than twice the 16 from Arizona and Georgia, and 10 more than Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin added together.

    Much as I wish that Trump had had a lower popular vote total, and no matter how disturbed I was at even the possibility of him eking out a squeaker of an electoral college victory, Biden’s win was actually by a pretty substantial margin in terms of both the popular and the electoral vote.

  47. @Russell Letson, a big reason why I substituted conspiracy fantasy for theory is for the very definition you provide: “attempts to build models that account for collections of purported evidence.”

    When you do that, you conflate a conspiracy theorist to a scientific or legal theorist and lift them to a perch they don’t deserve to hold.

    In order to advance knowledge in their field, advanced academics must master theory and also learn ethics and method. There’s also the knowledge that any theory seemingly correct now can and will be disproved or displaced in the future (the falsifiability principle).

    RationalWiki has an explanation, a funny one to boot, on what the problem is with conspiracies. They are Not Even Wrong.

    “That is not only not right, it is not even wrong!” — attributed to Wolfgang Pauli

    Not Even Wrong is beyond factually incorrect. It doesn’t even offer basic information to make true/false evaluation remotely possible. Evaluating it devalues more rigorous information theorized in good faith.

  48. You know, this got me thinking about conspiracy theories and what rationalists can do to thwart them.

    I learned about Occam’s razor in a college philosophy course, and it has helped to immunize me to disbelieve conspiracy fantasies. A razor in logic is a reminder for economy in logical assumptions. Occam’s razor advises to not believe something is true in the absence of evidence, and if/when evidence is available the ones making the fewest assumptions are likely to be true.

    We have Occam’s razor yet conspiracy theories/fantasies persist. We need another blade metaphor.

    Occam’s machete.

    Conspiracies aren’t just illogical whiskers. Conspiracies are a jungle overgrown with thick illogic and possible creatures bound to attack you.

    The machete can be used to hack at conspiracies by attacking theories on their own terms. The formula to prove conspiracies false:

    More people + more actions = Certain failure

    This part below is the theory behind the formula and reading it is optional.

    Each step in a conspiracy has three actions: planning, execution and concealment. These actions trade off. Any time and energy devoted to one action is time and energy taken away from the other two actions.

    The point of failure is the action that receives the least attention.

    That is the atomic scale of a single action. A conspiracy is really like a molecule.

    Correcting for an action leads to the addition of another step and/or another person. A step adds a new planning-execution-concealment dynamic, as does a person brought into the conspiracy. There is now complexity, as conspirators must also account for the interaction among steps and interaction among people. Repeat ad infinitum.

    Complexity tends to draw more people to iron out the wrinkles these interactions produce. A conspiracy then becomes an organization and at it becomes less possible to conceal, plan and execute effectively.

    Finally, there’s the human element that unravels a conspiracy from within. There’s a good and evil variant. The good variant involves a participant becoming conscientious and undermining the conspiracy through action/inaction or gathering information about the conspiracy to light (i.e. whistleblowing). The evil variant proves the proverb “There’s no honor among thieves”; a machiavellian conspirator will be the first to blackmail, kill or snitch on their co-conspirators.

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