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Published on Aug 25, 2008
We do our peers, countrymen, students, and children a grave disservice by admonishing them to think for themselves without also giving them the critical thinking tools to do so, for in so doing we foster a culture where "independent thought" is equated with "contrarian thought". This gives rise to an anti-intellectual, anti-science paradigm that supports an idea not because it meets a basic standard of evidence, but rather simply because it opposes established thought. This is worse than the intellectual calcification that stagnant "herd thinking" would give rise to, because it doesn't simply halt progress- it puts it in full retreat. This is the environment in which conspiracy theories flourish.
The audio portion of this video is by Perry DeAngelis, founder of the New England Skeptical Society and skeptical rogue of some considerable note. I was recently asked by another YouTuber about my definition of conspiracy theorists, and realized that a segment of Perry's talk on the psychology of belief answers the question far better than I could hope to do in a 500 character comment. And so, in answer to that question, and in honor of the 1 year anniversary of Perry's passing, I present this video.
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