Critical Thinking – May 20, 2020


In many instances throughout history, conspiracy theories have cropped up and taken root. This time – the time of the COVID-19 pandemic – is no exception. In matters of life and death, as with this pandemic, people need facts and evidence. How can one possibly sort through it all? There are distinctive traits (‘red flags’) of a conspiracy theory, listed in brief below, which will hopefully serve as a good aid for distinguishing fact from outrageous fiction. (source:… )

1. Contradictory beliefs: believing in multiple causes which are mutually incompatible (e.g., believing that SARS-CoV-2 came from a Wuhan lab but also believing people got the coronavirus from previous vaccinations)
2. Overriding suspicion: being overwhelmingly suspicious of the official account which is backed by scientific evidence. Any scientists or scientific organizations who support the official account must be “in on it.” (forget the fact of peer review in the scientific world!)
3. Nefarious intent: assuming evil motives
4. Conviction that something is (must be!) wrong: It seems fishy/I’ve just got this gut feeling, etc…
5. Persecuted victim: believing that you are a victim of deception
6. Immunity to evidence: “even absence of evidence for a theory becomes evidence for the theory: the reason there’s no proof of the conspiracy is because the conspirators did such a good job covering it up!”
7. Reinterpreting randomness: random events are actually all connected and caused by the conspiracy

Now, more than ever, there is a critical need for a critical mass who can critically think! Approach things with a healthy skepticism, but consider all the evidence at hand and know what you do not know. Those who get frustrated with scientists “always changing their minds” don’t really understand how science works. It’s a process. Tough, sustained scrutiny works to ensure that faulty claims are rejected. In modern science, no claim gets accepted until it has been vetted by dozens. In areas that have been contested, like climate science and vaccine safety, it’s thousands of scientists weighing in. It is a strength of science, not a weakness, of changing in the face of new evidence.

For how to spot COVID-19 conspiracy theories, please see:…/

#sciencewednesdays #summitssongsandscience


photo: “Brain” by maheshshinde777 is licensed under CC BY 4.0