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Top Six Red Flags that Identify a Conspiracy Theory Article

It can be tough to see your Facebook friends sharing conspiracy theory stories, and tough to respond to them effectively. Pointing it out and saying “that’s a conspiracy theory” doesn’t seem to be effective. But there are certain writing patterns and tropes that are common within such articles that make them compelling to some people. Sometimes, just pointing out patterns and tropes helps people see them for what they are.

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8 Comments on "Top Six Red Flags that Identify a Conspiracy Theory Article"

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Peter Johnson

Hello Editors of All Generalizations are False,

I find your charts intriguing but what I don’t see is any specific information about which climate change or global warming news sources are false or misleading. This is an issue which is urgently important in the media today, and it would help if you provided a list of websites which promote bogus climate science or which are not factually based.

Said about libraries in the FSU: So much information was available it was impossible to learn what was missing. Same here now. So, what is a conspiracy theory? Your comments about conspiracy theories are nice generalities, but they hardly cover the topic. To learn what is going on takes a tremendous amount of time and effort which very few people are willing to do. They would rather depend on others telling them what to believe, particularly if it fits in with what they want to believe. Individuals can know in tiny little bits what they personally experience or whatever is… Read more »

ok, like your style of writing and what I understand of your methodology. How do you see your self? liberal, conservative, middle of road person? This is regard to your political views. I am not asking a set up question, but I assume all folk has a personal bias. And I don’t think that is a disqualifier to your writing.

Rich Brown
I love The Chart, and this list of Six Flags is terrific – we need to make more people aware of both these resources. But as a grumpy old guy, I would ask a favor… I would be reluctant (almost embarrassed) to share this chart with young teens because of a couple word choices. (I am quite aware they already know the words – we’re talking about modeling good communication skills here…) Changing “WTF?” to “Huh?” seems easy. I also flinch a bit at seeing “B.S. detector” in professional writing, although this has been in common use forever (at least… Read more »
You don’t provide any reasons to why these flags are true or why they should be metrics to analyze the validity of claims. You are basically saying “these flags are obvious indicators of b.s.” and then you ridicule the idea that anyone can take any value from the rest of the content of the article they are reading if these flags are present. You present very dismissive views about the actual claims made based on being “turned off” from isolating certain certain criteria. Your individual sentence analysis compartmentalized the overall source data of what you are reading. For example if… Read more »