Published June 2020 on YouTube

363: Mick West | How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories

1. Introduction

Mick and Jordan explore the reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories and the types of bad thinking involved. They discuss ways to help people escape the conspiracy theory rabbit hole and become better critical thinkers.+

2. Debunking Conspiracy Theories

Debunking Conspiracy Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss the harm caused by conspiracy theories, particularly in the health sector, and the importance of debunking them to prevent dangerous actions.+
Conspiracy Theories:Jordan and Mick discuss how anyone can fall for conspiracy theories, even intelligent people. They explore the idea that some people who commit illegal acts may have been led by the nose due to their beliefs, and how mental illness may play a role in these situations.+
Believing in Crazy Things:Mick explains that people who believe in conspiracy theories test higher on certain psychological scales, such as the need for uniqueness. This satisfies their need to feel special and unique, but this need isn't much higher than the average person. Jordan shares his experience of predicting the coronavirus outbreak and how wanting to have insight information can raise social status.+

3. Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss the psychology behind conspiracy theories and how they can be a result of the need for control and cognitive dissonance. They examine the 9/11 attacks as an example of how people can create outlandish explanations to fit their worldview.+
Debunking 9/11 Myths:Mick debunks common 9/11 conspiracy theories such as the use of box cutters, planes being unable to penetrate buildings, and the collapse of the World Trade Center. He also discusses his fun experiments in backyard physics and how careful discussion of facts can change people's minds over time.+

4. Ping Pong and Conspiracy

Ping Pong Experiment:Mick explains the ping pong experiment where a ping pong ball can blast through a ping pong paddle if it's going fast enough. This experiment is a great example to show people who say that a plane shouldn't have been able to go through a building because the building is stronger.+
Conspiracy Theories Explained:Mick and Jordan discuss the science behind conspiracy theories, specifically chemtrails, and how it can be difficult to communicate scientific explanations to people who believe in these theories. Mick provides simple explanations for complex phenomena like contrails and clouds, and highlights how people often handwave certain explanations to continue believing in conspiracy theories.+

5. Harmful False Beliefs

Contrails and Weather Modification:Mick explains how contrails are formed and debunks the conspiracy theory that they are government programs to spray chemicals. He also distinguishes weather modification from geoengineering, which is the deliberate alteration of the earth's climate.+
Harmful Conspiracy Theories:Mick explains that conspiracy theories can have a harmful effect on individuals and their relationships. He believes that helping individuals escape the rabbit hole is a worthwhile endeavor.+
Harmful Effects of False Beliefs:Mick and Jordan discuss the harm caused by false beliefs, particularly in the realm of anti-science and its impact on decisions related to important issues such as GMOs. They highlight the example of golden rice, a genetically modified rice that could prevent blindness in children, but has faced opposition due to false beliefs.+

6. Dangerous Conspiracy Theories

Dangerous Conspiracy Theories:Mick West discusses the dangers of conspiracy theories and false medicines, including the outlandish Pizzagate theory and the belief in bunk supplements. He also touches on the threats scientists face when presenting proper science.+
Conspiracy Theories and Morality:Mick and Jordan discuss how some people who believe in conspiracy theories have a messiah-type complex and think they're doing good. They also talk about the importance of debunking fake issues and how conspiracy theories can lead to tragic events.+

7. Harmful Conspiracy Theories

Distractions and Harm:Mick West discusses the myths surrounding the fight against the government, including the Ruby Ridge incident and the Waco siege. Jordan Harbinger highlights the harm caused by conspiracy theories, which distract from real issues and discredit experts in various fields.+
Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories:Mick discusses how framing things as hoaxes can make people not care about them, and how this mindset can lead to bad decisions about safety and health. He explains how beliefs in conspiracy theories can have a knock-on effect on public health issues like vaccines and the coronavirus.+

8. Sponsors

Jordan's guest, Mick West, takes a break to hear from their sponsor, Vuori Clothing. Jordan and Peter discuss how comfortable the clothing is and express interest in getting some for Peter.+

9. Exercising in Boxer Shorts

Peter shares his humorous workout routine with Jordan, including his lack of skills for a treadmill desk.+

10. Sponsors

Jordan and Peter discuss the versatility and comfort of Vuori Clothing, which can be worn for various activities and occasions, and offer a discount for listeners. They also talk about the importance of security systems in light of recent events.+

11. SimpliSafe Security System

Jordan and Peter discuss the benefits of SimpliSafe, a security system that is easy to install and does not require a technician or salesperson. With QR codes and sticky adhesive, the system is ready to use right out of the box, without the need for a long-term contract or monthly fees.+

12. Sponsors

Peter shares about SimpliSafe, the best overall home security system of 2020 according to US News and World Reports, with 24/7 professional monitoring and emergency dispatch starting at only 50 cents a day. Listeners can head to for free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee.+

13. Dangerous Theories

Dangerous Conspiracy Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss the dangerous beliefs of David Icke, including his theories on 5G causing coronavirus and lizard people controlling the government. They explore the harm these conspiracy theories can cause and the potential mental health issues that may be contributing to Icke's beliefs.+
Extreme Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss how people who promote extreme conspiracy theories actually believe them to some extent. They delve into the case of Alex Jones and how he uses a bag of tricks to promote his brand. The speakers also touch on the idea that conspiracy theories may provide a sense of community for those who lack it.+

14. Science and Conspiracies

Understanding Science:Mick and Jordan discuss the difficulties people have in understanding science, and how conspiracy theories are often more appealing because they are simpler to grasp. They also touch on the importance of fact-checking and the dangers of spreading misinformation.Show transcript +
Antarctic Plane Safety:Mick and Jordan discuss the safety regulations for planes traveling over the Antarctic, including the requirement for certain survival equipment and the choice between a larger plane or wearing a parachute. They also touch on the difference between conspiracy theories and actual conspiracies.+
Mundane Conspiracies:Mick discusses how conspiracies can be mundane, such as lobbying by corporations and the prison system, and how they can have real-world implications.+

15. Prison Reform and Conspiracy Theories

Prison Industrial Complex:Jordan and Mick discuss the harsh punishments and systemic issues within the prison industrial complex, and the need for better sentencing reform. Mick also highlights the importance of focusing on real issues rather than conspiracy theories.+
Conspiracy Theories:Mick explains the different types of conspiracy theories and how they fit into the broader spectrum. He also discusses how Russia benefits from spreading conspiracy theories as part of their long-term plan to reduce the power of NATO through active measures.+

16. Russian Conspiracy Tactics

Russian propaganda tactics:Mick explains how Russia uses conspiracy theories to create division within a country and make it look bad to the outside world. He also discusses how they promote false information about 5G to disrupt the economy of the country.+
Debunking Conspiracy Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss the Russian playbook and how it has been used to spread conspiracy theories. They also talk about the allure of conspiracy theories and suggest that people should be entertained by seeing them debunked instead.+
Conspiracy Addiction:Mick West discusses how people become addicted to conspiracy theories, seeking daily doses of information and feeling of surety and security. He explains how getting out of the rabbit hole can be revolutionary and lead to discovering a whole new world of real beliefs.+

17. Sponsors

Jordan shares his experience with Fiverr, a website that offers discrete tasks. He talks about how it has helped him with productivity and getting tasks done efficiently.+

18. Freelance Services

Jordan and Peter discuss the benefits of using freelance services for graphic design, film editing, copywriting, and more. They highlight the straightforward pricing and 24/7 customer service of these services.+

19. Sponsors

Peter promotes and Jordan talks about how NetSuite by Oracle can help businesses succeed in the new economy with its cloud business system.+

20. Mobile Business Dashboard

Jordan and Peter discuss a mobile business dashboard that combines finance, HR, and e-commerce in one place, accessible from your phone. They emphasize the convenience and usefulness of this tool for entrepreneurs on-the-go.+

21. Sponsors

Jordan and Peter discuss how businesses of any size can compete with anyone and run their company from their phone or laptop. They also offer a free guide and product tour for businesses to increase their productivity and sales.+

22. Conspiracies and Truth

Conspiracies and vested interests:Jordan and Mick discuss why people have a hard time admitting they're wrong about conspiracies, and how some people have a vested interest in perpetuating them. They also talk about the difficulty of coming clean about being wrong and the potential consequences of doing so.+
Conspiracy Theories:Mick West discusses how conspiracy theories can lead to social isolation and the difficulty of leaving the community. He suggests talking to someone outside of the community and using online resources like podcasts to gain new perspectives. Jordan Harbinger emphasizes the importance of honesty and trust with his audience, even admitting when he's wrong.+
Seeking Truth:Mick and Jordan discuss the importance of accepting that you can be wrong and seeking truth. Correcting mistakes and seeking out people who will challenge you can improve your arguments and understanding of the world.+

23. Conspiracy Theory Spectrum

Flat Earthers' Mindset:Mick explains the mindset of Flat Earthers and their scientific skepticism, which is not productive for real science. Jordan shares his thoughts on the documentary "Behind the Curve" and how Flat Earthers try to manipulate their experiments to prove their theory.+
Escaping Conspiracy Theories:Mick West discusses the spectrum of conspiracy theories, from straightforward ones to extreme ones like Flat Earth and shape-shifting aliens. He also shares practical tips on how to help friends come out of the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, emphasizing the importance of drawing a demarcation line and exposing lies.+
Understanding Conspiracy Theories:Mick explains the importance of understanding where people draw the line on the conspiracy spectrum and how to approach discussing conspiracy theories with them. Focusing on beliefs that are close to where they draw the line can be more effective in changing their opinion than trying to shift their foundational beliefs.+

24. Examining Beliefs

Examining Beliefs:Mick and Jordan discuss the importance of examining beliefs and reasoning with evidence-based explanations. They explain how to debunk false beliefs and encourage listeners to examine why they believe what they believe. The key takeaway is to stay polite and honest, even when faced with opposing views.+
Changing Minds:Mick emphasizes the importance of effective communication when trying to change someone's mind, especially those who are in cults. Treating the person with respect and giving them time are also crucial in introducing new concepts and helping them see things the right way.+
Debunking Conspiracy Theories:Mick advises to start debunking conspiracy theories with the most extreme belief that the person has without crossing their line of demarcation. He also suggests restating their position better than they can do it themselves to clarify their argument.+

25. Investigating Conspiracy Theories

Investigating Conspiracy Theories:Mick and Jordan discuss the importance of taking conspiracy theories seriously and using investigative techniques to clarify and debunk them. They provide examples of how to approach these theories with evidence and logic.+
Debunking Beliefs:Mick and Jordan discuss techniques for debunking false beliefs, including taking the argument seriously and improving the argument to show understanding. They also touch on the emotional investment people have in their beliefs and the danger of using these techniques.+

26. Combatting Conspiracy Theories

Persuasive Techniques:Mick emphasizes the importance of being genuine and honest when talking to people who believe in conspiracy theories. He also warns against the backfire effect, where contradicting someone's beliefs can actually make them stronger. Mick suggests finding points of agreement and being open about what you're doing to avoid manipulation.+
Dangerous Conspiracy Theories:Mick West discusses the backfire effect and how to combat it when trying to debunk conspiracy theories. He emphasizes the importance of politeness and respect when presenting evidence. The most dangerous conspiracy theory right now is the vaccine conspiracy, which poses a threat to public and individual health.+
Conspiracy Theories and Society:Mick discusses the potential dangers of conspiracy theories on society, including the rise of militias and mass attacks on federal buildings. He emphasizes the importance of debunking wild claims and the burden of proof being on those making the claims. Mick's website provides resources for debunking common conspiracy "evidence."+

27. Debunking Conspiracy Theories

Jordan shares his technique for debunking conspiracy theories by letting people discredit themselves and talks about the danger of getting sucked into a tightly curated rabbit hole of ridiculousness on YouTube. He suggests that we should become better thinkers and teach our families how to think properly instead of relying on the nanny state to protect us from bullcrap.+

28. Outro

Jordan shares tips on how to build and maintain relationships through his free Six-Minute Networking course. He also encourages listeners to reach out to guests and shares the importance of networking before you need it.+