by [anonymous]1 min read15th Jan 201572 comments

-34

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After the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo, conspiracy theories quickly arose about who was behind the attacks.
People who are critical to the west easily swallow such theories while pro-vest people just as easily find them ridiculous.

I guess we can agree that the most rational response would be to enter a state of aporia until sufficient evidence is at hand.

Yet very few people do so. People are guided by their previous understanding of the world, when judging new information. It sounds like a fine Bayesian approach for getting through life, but for real scientific knowledge, we can't rely on *prior* reasonings (even though these might involve Bayesian reasoning). Real science works by investigating evidence.

So, how do we characterise the human tendency to jump to conclusions that have simply been supplied by their sense of normativity. Is their a previously described bias that covers this case?

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Here are the relevant LW keywords:

Motivated Stopping = "I have evidence for X (which I like), so I make my conclusion now and refuse to look at further evidence"

Motivated Continuation = "I have evidence for X (which I dislike), so I avoid making conclusions and keep looking for more evidence"

...and in situations where it seems obvious that both the existing and the future evidence will mostly point towards X (which I dislike), I can go more meta and use...

Fallacy of Gray = "there will never be a perfect evidence for X (nor a perfect evidence against X), so my conclusion is that one cannot rationally make any conclusion about this topic"

0[anonymous]8y
Thanks! Very clear answer. Just to clarify: Do you say that going into aporia is actually a fallacy of gray? Wouldn't it only be so if I then insisted on staying there, avoiding evidence that could relatively easily clear up the case? If not, then I really don't know how to respond rationally to the Charlie Hebdo case. Should I just go with my gut feeling (which would say that this is a genuine terror attack)?
1Viliam_Bur8y
Following a bias is easy, maintaining balance is difficult. It's easier to describe what should not be done, but the opposite of a bias is usually just another bias. For example people doing the motivated stopping would accuse their opponents of motivated continuation, and vice versa. And the fact is that everyone has to stop collecting evidence at some point, because we do not have infinite time and attention. The correct moment to stop is when your best cost-benefit estimate says so, regardless of whether you like or dislike the current result. But this is easier said than done; humans are bad at thinking "regardless" of something emotionally important. For the fallacy of gray I think the rational conclusion is to accept that nothing is literally 100% sure; on the other hand, if the chance is e.g. 99:1, we should not behave as if it is 50:50. I am not suggesting any specific number here, because I have very little information about the situation, but I can imagine a conclusion like this: -- "I feel 80 / 90 / 99 / 99.9 sure it was a genuine terror attack. If I receive convincing evidence in the future I would be willing to examine it and change my mind, but at this moment I have neither such evidence, nor a reason to believe I will get such evidence. So, probably / most likely / pretty sure, it was a genuine terror attack." Whether you should assign probality 80 or 90 or 99 percent, that depends on how much you know, how much you trust what you know, and how good are you at estimating probabilities. Unless you are an expert in the domain, you probably shouldn't go beyond 99%. Unless you feel really sure, even 99% is too much. An important reminder is that probability is in the mind [http://lesswrong.com/lw/oj/probability_is_in_the_mind/], so for example, if an expert says the probability is 99%, and you say it is 80%, that does not mean that you contradict the expert; it simply means that you are not sure whether you can trust the expert. The expert may have a h

You've previously brought up here also the idea that UFOs might be aliens.

May I suggest that you are maybe just giving way too high a probability to low probability, fringe, hypotheses?

0[anonymous]8y
Yes, that was clumsy of me. I don't have sufficient knowledge to state anything about the nature of UFOs

But by saying that, you are making the exact same sort of error in question: taking low probability hypotheses and assigning them so much weight that you say you don't have sufficient knowledge when in fact you do: the correct conclusion is that the claimed explanations are extremely unlikely.

It is worth noting more generally that while on occasion, hidden government conspiracies do come to light, they are almost never any of the conspiracies that anyone in public is claiming are real.

0[anonymous]8y
I think my chain falls of on the idea that we can assign reliable probabilities to various hypotheses, prior to our own thorough investigation of the available scientific material. For the case of UFOs, wouldn't we have to have scientific reports explaining all unexplained observations of aerial phenomena that have occured in history, before we could reasonably claim that the probability is very low?

I think my chain falls of on the idea that we can assign reliable probabilities to various hypotheses, prior to our own thorough investigation of the available scientific material.

Yep! We do it all the time! How likely do you think it is that the city of New York has just been destroyed by a nuclear blast? That your parents are actually undercover agents sent by Thailand? That there is a scorpion in the sandwich you're about to eat? Most people would consider those extremely unlikely without a second thought, and would not feel any need for a "thorough investigation of the available scientific material". And that's a perfectly sensible thing to do!

0[anonymous]8y
Indeed it is perfectly sensible from a pragmatic point of view. But is it actual knowledge?
6JoshuaZ8y
Knowledge in what sense? In the sense of "justified true belief" as some philosophers like to define knowledge? No, but that's a really bad notion of knowledge because pretty much nothing can be justified in the sense that such would insist upon. Can you assign really high degrees of certainty to the conclusions? Yes. If that's what knowledge is then yes, it is knowledge.
0[anonymous]8y
This is an interesting "rebuttal" to the goal of defining "true knowledge". I'll have to think more about this.
6JoshuaZ8y
It may help to note that Bayesianism (the form of epistemology most popular at LW) rejects the entire idea of justified true belief or anything similar to it, and only talks about degrees of certainty, but I think you already know that.
4Viliam_Bur8y
Related articles: How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 [http://lesswrong.com/lw/jr/how_to_convince_me_that_2_2_3/] Infinite Certainty [http://lesswrong.com/lw/mo/infinite_certainty/] 0 And 1 Are Not Probabilities [http://lesswrong.com/lw/mp/0_and_1_are_not_probabilities/] tl;dr: 100% probability = ∞ evidence; you really don't have it
2polymathwannabe8y
No, it is the one making the assertion who has the burden of proof; the one who questions the assertion is not obliged to prove a negative. You're privileging the UFO hypothesis without justification. It's like insisting we must identify which specific neurons produce consciousness before we can reasonably claim God didn't create it.
2Alsadius8y
Even observing "This is only believed by a fringe group of of low-status people not taken seriously by society at large" is sufficient to assign it an extremely low prior probability(single-digit percentages?) without even attempting to consider direct evidence for or against the proposition.
0[anonymous]8y
You may be right. But is there no better methology for estimating priors than to say "surely this prior must be in the single digit percentages". It seems very method-less.
2Alsadius8y
The method is "set your prior probability equal to society's judgement of its probability". For anything where society as a whole has an opinion at all, it's a better approximation than any other one-piece-of-evidence method around, and is thus a great way to set your priors.
2Lumifer8y
As a general statement, this doesn't seem to be true. I am also not quite sure what -- in real life -- is a "one-piece-of-evidence method".
0ChristianKl8y
No. There no reason to expect every observation to be explained. Tracking down causes of things is hard work and it's not reasonable that in every case someone did the hard work. Using the word "scientific" in this context also illustrates a misunderstanding of what it means. You can't run scientific trials to find the meaning of a single event that happened in the past.
0JoshuaZ8y
No. One needs to simply ask which is more likely- that unexplained aerial phenomena fall into well known categories (weather events, optical illusions, airplanes, meteors, space debris, etc.) than any hypothesis which requires us to be extremely wrong about basic aspects of reality (e.g. speed of light barrier among other issues). Note that in this regard, the prior that there are even some weather events that we don't understand should still be much higher than anything involving aliens. To use an example, if I link you to here [http://www.verifiedfacts.org/] do you think one needs a thorough investigation of what appears there? If not, how is it different?
0[anonymous]8y
Wow, that link truly is a grim case. There were no references to further, proper, investigations. If all conspiracy theories were just as ill founded, obviously there wouldn't be a case. But what has surprised me is that the quality of investigative material is actually rather good, for several conspiracy theories (not that it leads me to draw any conclusion. I really like aporia. Probably some sort of defence mechanism), with 9/11 being the most clear example. If the investigative material is actually rather good, and way better than I initially guessed at, then I wonder where the discrepancy between my initial judgment versus my later investigation came from. (obviously one could suggest some psycological liability on my part. Feel free). Were I the victim of some sort of bias before I started to investigate more thoroughly? Why were I so quick to judge, emotionally, at a point in time where I didn't have any knowledge about whether high quality studies existed on the topic or not? I really have become more cautious about drawing quick conclusions, and I think it's a good thing.
0ChristianKl8y
It's quite easy to convince a person that's ignorant of something that isn't true. Your argument that you were ignorant before you looked at one-sided investigative material doesn't make you a trustworthy source. You didn't reason clearly about the subject. If you think there a case with good evidence and you instead used "Je Suis Charlie", that's a major blunder. Not putting in your best effort to make your case protects you from falsifying your belief.
0JoshuaZ8y
Did you try hitting refresh? It isn't hard to make material that looks like it is of high quality. Humans are really good at motivated cognition. The vast majority of the time, the standard explanation is correct.
0[anonymous]8y
I, and so many others, may be completely bullocks on evaluating investigations, but how will this single out the investigations of conspiracy theories? It basically states that I can never acquire knowledge of (any) scientific findings.
4JoshuaZ8y
Again, what are you calling knowledge? It seems like you are using a notion of knowledge which insists on extremely high certainty. Maybe taboo the word knowledge? But as a general heuristic, something if it is commonly accepted by the scientific establishment it is much more likely to be true than a fringe position.
0[anonymous]8y
I am curious about your answer to my question ".. but how will this single out the investigations of conspiracy theories?".
0JoshuaZ8y
If a position is a position that isn't in mainstream journals and is described as fringe by the mainstream press then it is an issue. If the subject needs its own journal to specifically push a position then it is in that category. If the position relies on assuming unknown technology exists (e.g. faster than light travel, plane sized holograms, nanothermite) then it is in that category.

I guess we can agree that the most rational response would be to enter a state of aporia until sufficient evidence is at hand.

Not really; consider how much effort is worth investigating the question of whether Barack Obama is actually secretly Transgender, in different scenarios:

  • You just thought about it, but don't have any special reason to privilege that hypothesis
  • Someone mentioned the idea a a thought experiment on LessWrong.com, but doesn't seem to think it's even remotely likely
  • Someone on the internet seems to honestly believe it (but may be a troll or time cube guy-level crazy)
  • A vocal group on the internet seems to believe it
  • Several people you know in real-life seem to believe it

If you think that even in the first case you should investigate, then you're going to spend your life running over every hypothesis that catches your fancy, regardless of how likely or useful it is. If you believe that in some cases it deserves a bit of investigation, but not others, you're going to need a few extra rules of thumbs, even before looking as the evidence.

0[anonymous]8y
I definitely see your point. Couldn't the problem be solved by dividing my convictions into two groups: 1. Those that I need in order to survive and prosper in my life. 2. Those that I don't need in order to survive and prosper in my life. Then I could go into aporia for all those who belong to group 2, while allowing more gut feeling for those in group 1. The Charlie Hebdo question doesn't affect my life quality, so I for that case I could afford the epistemological "luxury" of aporia.
2ike8y
I would disagree with that. If you meet someone and they tell you about a bunch of conspiracy theories they believe, your estimate of their relative sanity will be dependant on how plausible you think those theories are, and that may impact your life. So, if the vast majority of conspiracy theories are false, but you believe that many have a chance and it's impossible to know, you will accept people as normal who are deluded. (I'm not saying that they deserve anything in particular because they're wrong, but it seems better for you to know rather than not.) This also allows you to dismiss certain opinions that do matter to you (USE WITH CAUTION! [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Reversed_stupidity_is_not_intelligence] ) when the holders also hold many other theries that don't matter. Disclaimer: this refers to theories that you only hear from conspiracy theorists, and can't find "normal" people who believe them. Just because a conspiracy theorist believes something does not make it false. But there are some things that I hear and say "well, all the major advocates also think 9/11 was an inside job/insert conspiracy theory here, so I can safely ignore that", even though the conspiracy theories in question may not be relevant to me. I try to find at least one "clean" advocate for something before taking it seriously as an idea. tl;dr "The Charlie Hebdo question" and the class of similar ones are relevant to assessing others' rationality.

I'm not sure where to start with this but, I don't think finding a conspiracy theory ridiculous is just a matter of pro-west bias, and that the correct position is "maybe it was a conspiracy theory, maybe it was just what it looks like"? You'd have to have some pretty iffy priors for that to work.

0emr8y
This actually raises an interesting point, although one not quite relevant to the original post: Roughly speaking, we should expect people who live in non-Western areas to find conspiracy theories more plausible, because, well, conspiracy theories really are more likely where they live.
6RichardKennaway8y
The Hebdo conspiracy theory is that a government initiated an attack on its own people, carried out by its own agents, who other government agents then killed, all in order to blacken their enemy's name, it presumably not being considered sufficiently black already. This is the standard conspiracy theory that is heard in response to every notable outrage on domestic soil. What examples does history record of this actually happening?

I can't add much to the other comments.

In this case, I actually hadn't heard about the false flag conspiracy theories. I was thinking about the less extreme tendency of the foreign press to see the occurrence of blasphemy as being secretly orchestrated by Western governments, who them deny involvement and claim that they are just supporting the spontaneous actions of their citizens. My theory is that this will seem more plausible to people living in areas with more state control over the press.

For example, there was an American preacher who burned some Korans. The view from within the United States was this man was a low-status Southern Evangelical stereotype, a headache to the government, and a visible annoyance to the high-status people who really do love insulting Islam but were somehow stuck defending this guy instead of some more charismatic blasphemer. In the Islamic press, this guy was a practically a CIA agent/preacher of the Official American Church acting on Presidential orders, probably working with Israel to further some foreign policy aim. Because if he really was a headache to the government, why wasn't he already in jail?

4alienist8y
I agree and would like to add that my parents who lived in the USSR tell me that there many "spontaneous actions of by the citizens" were in fact orchestrated by the government. This was largely for the benefit of the western press who was perfectly willing to believe this (after all genuinely spontaneous actions happen in their countries all the time). And conversely someone living in a country that does this will be less inclined to believe in spontaneous citizen actions.

I don't know about killing the agents, but there have been known examples of that kind of false flag terrorist attack. Probably the most famous is the Lavon Affair, but there's also:

There have also been a number of false-flag incidents in which a government attacked its own people with terrorism, but, whether by luck or by intention, no-one died:

There are also various well-known incidents that look like false flag terrorist attacks by a government on its own people, but which are disputed:

  • The Baghdad Bombings (very similar to the Lavon Affair, but still denied).
  • The Reichstag Fire.
  • There are persistent and credible allegations that the DRS carried out false-flag terrorist attacks during the Algerian Civil War.
  • It is possible that the 1999 bombings in Russia were a false-flag attack, but this incident is so bitterly contested that it's impossible for me to know what to make of these allegations.

It is also possible that there were other such incidents but where the false-fl... (read more)

4gjm8y
The Wikipedia page on false flag operations lists a couple of similar things, including some in the Algerian civil war where government agents pretended to be Islamist terrorists. So it doesn't seem to be unheard of. (In the present case, I think it's awfully unlikely.)
0ChristianKl8y
No, it seems like the most respected theory is by the Turkish prime minister who thinks that the Mossad is responsible. French citizens are not Israeli citizens. According to ex-MI5 Annie Machon the idea that the Mossad did a False Flag operation inside the UK was discussed within MI5 and some MI5 people like her believed it. On the other hand the case in the UK had a lot of more means&motive then this case. If you trust US history books then Nazis did burn the Reichstag. There are some arguments against that theory, but it's accepted history. A more modern case is the 1972 Peteano massacre done by Gladio troops in Italy. The case of the Russian apartment bombings in 1999 is unclear. Wikipedia: "John McCain said that there remained "credible allegations that Russia's FSB had a hand in carrying out these [Moscow apartment bombing] attacks".

People who are critical to the west easily swallow such theories while pro-vest people just as easily find them ridiculous.

In my opinion, people who understand the positives and negatives of western information flow recognize that the information flow claiming it was islamic fundamentalists is correct, that it is not some conspiracy to blame muslims, while the people who accept various non-western information sources such as pronouncements by various mullahs, and do not really have a detailed understanding of how the west lies and how it doesn't, get th... (read more)

0ChristianKl8y
I'm not sure whether that statement is true in that form. Glenn Greenwald on democracy now [http://www.democracynow.org/2015/1/13/glenn_greenwald_on_how_to_be]: FBI informants also pay [https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/16/latest-fbi-boast-disrupting-terror-u-s-plot-deserves-scrutiny-skepticism/] Muslims money to commit terrorist acts to them imprison them before the actual act. More controversially there an embassy bombing in London about which Annie Machon [http://anniemachon.ch/the-israeli-embassy-two-a-gross-miscarriage-of-justice]: But in this case we have more than just Western sources, we also have al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claim responsibility [http://time.com/3661650/charlie-hebdo-paris-terror-attack-al-qaeda/].
0mwengler8y
The Anders Brevik thing is interesting. That the west got the story correct within about 24 hours in my opinion leaves my point largely intact. Particularly in that I am opposing my point to the idea expressed by the Turkish president that the Charlie Hebdo attack was perpetrated by Israeli's trying to make the Muslims look bad, or the claims soon after 9/11 that 9/11 was either Israeli's or was a lie or whatever. One guy at the Brookings institution getting it wrong for one day, I'm happy to agree that my statement could be modified to something like "the mainstream west upon reflection has not attributed anything to Islamic Terror which is not Islamic Terror, although certainly plenty of individual's in the west have come up with plenty of misattributions both in favor of and against Muslims."
0ChristianKl8y
I agree that it's very unlikely that Israeli's share any responsibility for Charlie Hebdo attack. The point I wanted to illustrate that it's easy to make straightfoward claims that aren't fully true. I think claiming that Palestianens bomb an Israeli embassy in London, is an attribution for Islamic Terror. The thing that the Turkish premier denies isn't who pulled the trigger but who's responsible for those guys pulling the trigger. In particular he disbelieves that people known to have completed a terror training camp were able to coordinate such an attack without the secret service noticing. Of course he's still wrong.
0[anonymous]8y
From Wikipedia: "Aporia (Ancient Greek: ἀπορία: "impasse, difficulty of passing, lack of resources, puzzlement") denotes in philosophy a philosophical puzzle or state of puzzlement and in rhetoric a rhetorically useful expression of doubt." especially note this part of the definition: "... or state of puzzlement ..."
[-][anonymous]8y 2

Why do this post get so many down votes? The topic isn't really about Charlie Hebdo. I could have used any other example in which emotionally strong counter theories has arisen.

My guess is that it is because

I guess we can agree that the most rational response would be to enter a state of aporia until sufficient evidence is at hand.

and

It sounds like a fine Bayesian approach for getting through life, but for real scientific knowledge, we can't rely on prior reasonings (even though these might involve Bayesian reasoning). Real science works by investigating evidence.

look like a significant misunderstanding of what the bayesian approach is.

2[anonymous]8y
So, what doc on the web would most concisely rid me of exactly my misunderstanding?
0Scott Garrabrant8y
I do not know the answer to you question. Here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1to/what_is_bayesianism/] is my best guess after a couple minutes of trying to answer the question. Short answer: Bayesianism is not about priors, it is about how evidence should change priors. The Bayesian approach is all about evidence. Bayesian probability theory is the math of evidence. It needs a prior to work, because evidence is all about how much beliefs should change, so you need a prior to change. You could also do a lot of the Bayesian analysis without choosing a prior, and just write it down as "how much your beliefs would change." (but this doesn't end up with answers that are single numbers) Seriously, if you define evidence as "something that sways your beliefs because it is more likely to happen under one hypothesis than the alternative hypothesis," then Bayesianism is the math of evidence, and frequentism (which is used in "Real science") is not. (and does not even really try to be) Also, most of the people here would agree that if they do not have sufficient evidence, then they should still assign a probability, and you should be very quick to change it as you get evidence. This last claim might be controversial here, because people might have alternate hacks where they don't do this to avoid bias, but they will agree that if they could trust themselves, they would want to do this.
2Lumifer8y
This looks seriously misleading to me. While it may be technically correct (because neither frequentism nor "Real science" care much about swaying your beliefs), the math of deciding what's "more likely to happen under one hypothesis than the alternative hypothesis" is a standard part of frequentist statistics where it goes by the name of maximum likelihood [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_likelihood]. You might also be interested in the concept of Fisher information [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_information].
0Scott Garrabrant8y
I agree with you criticism. Thank you.
4Toggle8y
I downvoted because if you're going to try to practice rationality or hone your understanding of your own biases, emotionally charged current events are a very bad domain to play around in. It's like trying to learn the basics of Newtonian physics by studying Theo Jansen's sculptures [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj-NqWDH2qE]. There's a giant tangle of stupid-inducing factors in this case, and a well chosen toy problem would be able to address the same subject without being likely to inadvertently flip those switches.
-1mwengler8y
I disagree. Emotionally charged events tend to be both important, AND the ones in which rationality is most trampled. All who aspire to be less wrong in a meaningful way will benefit from sorting out the things that bias reasoning about emotionally charged current events.

It is important to be rational in such cases. But 'situations where rationality is important' isn't the same set as 'situations that are good didactic tools for rationality'. I mean, this is basically the central point of Politics is the Mind Killer: "What on Earth was the point of choosing this as an example? To rouse the political emotions of the readers and distract them from the main question?"

Charlie Hebdo wasn't brought up as the topic, it was brought up as an example of a system that could have been demonstrated with a lot less baggage.

4mwengler8y
The actual discussion here in this thread does not seem to me to have suffered from the relevancy and poignancy of its subject. Do you see it differently, or are you just speaking in generalities that don't turn out to be true in this case?
2ChristianKl8y
Do you think the discussion in this thread produced interesting new insight for you, that in general help you reason better about political issues?
2mwengler8y
I just did a quick review of the entire thread and I would say this post and it s comments helped me reason better about recent emotionally charged events. Among other things: 1) That the Turkish president goes public with the theory that it was Mossad tells me how "mainstream" in what I might call median-rational Muslim countries is a wrong interpretation designed to protect Muslims from what other Muslims are doing in their name. 2) This thread reinforces my belief that staying away from discussions of emotionally charged recent news makes as much sense as not discussing controversial interpretations of quantum mechanics. I look at this discussion and think that things that are emotionally charged are generally quite important, and that it is important to understand them. That the point of learning how to be "lesswrong" includes being less wrong about things we get all heated up about. That, essentially, the idea that tabooing discussion of things that are emotionally charged is a way of tabooing a valuable part of learning to be less wrong . Great idea asking this question a few weeks after the heat has died down. What do you think of my conclusions? Is it important to learn how to be less wrong when people are so emotionally involved that their emotions drive them to distortion? Is doing "case studies" like this discussion a way to get there?
2Lumifer8y
I think they are correct.
0ChristianKl8y
That's a strawman. Nobody argued here that it's bad to discuss recent news in general. That's not what "politics is the mindkiller" advocates. It advocates not using emotionally charged examples to make points that you could make with examples that are less emotionally charged. If the OP wanted to specifically talk about the issue of the attacks and reasons to think that the official version of this specific event isn't correct he could have made a threat making an argument why the official story is wrong. He didn't. He used it as an example for a larger class of events. If he wanted to speak about the value in believing conspiracy theories he could have analysed a case like Princes Diana's death and the reasons for >0.01% believe that she was killed on purpose. The event happened years ago, so the evidence base is a lot better. There are interesting things to be said given how that case progressed. A case study that likely wouldn't use the term "real science".
-2[anonymous]8y
yes, it's a kind of exercise challenge to think rationally on the hot topics.
4skeptical_lurker8y
Because if you are skeptical and agnostic about absolutely everything then you will get nothing done.
2Risto_Saarelma8y
The implicit rule might be that you can work on getting your not-quite-there-yet stuff into being better, or you can talk about contemporary politics, but not both at the same time. Talking about contemporary politics when you don't have your stuff seriously solid and interesting already is pulling towards the bottomless sinkhole of low-quality politics discussion which there's an explicit community norm against. (Yes, doing the stuff well right from the outset can actually be pretty hard. That's why the simpler version of rule is "no contemporary politics talk".)
2RichardKennaway8y
I haven't seen any such theories, and when I specifically searched them out, I found nothing worth paying attention to. Clearly, we are accessing different news sources. Personally, I don't pay much attention to the news, and what little I hear is from the BBC, occasionally the better class of UK newspapers, and I'll look on Google News if there's something I specifically want to find news about. Where do you find the news? On the Hebdo attack, there is plenty of evidence. The identities of the individual attackers are known. The manner of their attack suggests military experience. It is not yet clear what Islamic organisation they belonged to, if any, but no other type of organisation is suggested, and I think none needs to be. No-one is suggesting that this was anything but an Islamic terrorist attack, which it seems obvious to me that it was. Think horses, not zebras. To find any conspiracy theories at all I had to specifically search for /hebdo conspiracy/ and only turned up stuff clearly not worth paying attention to, not even zebras, but unicorns.
2mwengler8y
See for example "Turkish president accuses 'the West' of being behind Charlie Hebdo attacks and deliberately 'blaming Muslims' [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2908358/Turkish-president-accuses-West-Charlie-Hebdo-attacks-deliberately-blaming-Muslims-conspiracy-theories-sweep-Internet-accusing-Israel-orchestrating-it.html#ixzz3OvDRjLdL] reported in the UK's Daily Mail. It took me a few seconds to find this example there are many others.
0ChristianKl8y
Choosing a event that happened in the last months to make the point is stupid if you care about rational discussion as Eliezer layed out in "Politics is the Mindkiller". You also said little of substance. You didn't make value of information calculations or argued why one should expect that further investigation of this issue would change one's opinion.
0Alsadius8y
Because it seemed like it was arguing for taking conspiracy theories seriously without even trying to present evidence?

This is a valid question. But because of the politics involved it should have been posted to e.g. the Open Thread.

I was surprised that no-one was talking about Charlie Hebdo here or on SSC yet.

The western powers claim this was an attack on their "free speech", but if so, it was only backup and catalyst to their own long-term goals of eliminating that value in the first place. Even now, people who question this narrative are being silenced through every available legal method, and the scope of such methods is only expanding. European governments want us to live in double think - concurrently believing that we're defending ourselves from an enemy who hates our freedom of speech (as opposed to what we have to say) and supporting the gover... (read more)

3Good_Burning_Plastic8y
How sure you are that's actually irrationality, rather than rationality with a different utility function than yours?
1skeptical_lurker8y
I know there is a lot of controversy about privacy, but in what way are western governments acting against free speech? It also seems like you are suggesting that the attacks might not have been caused by islamists, and suggesting that if the attackers are islamists then islamophobia is the rational response which is being suppressed. Seems like an odd combination.
4garabik8y
Dieudonné arrested over Facebook post on Paris gunman – French comedian accused of justifying terrorism after linking attacker to tribute slogan by writing ‘I feel like Charlie Coulibaly’ [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/dieudonne-arrest-facebook-post-charlie-coulibaly-paris-gunman] Sad.
2ChristianKl8y
Previously the UK moved to go near Chinese internet censorship by introducing a general internet censorship infrastructure and using it to censor things like videos of female ejaculation. Now Cameron tries to be more totalitarian then China by banning general encryption.
0Alsadius8y
Speak for yourself - I don't support government intrusion on free speech at all. But even the most obnoxious proponent of banning offensive speech, campaign finance laws, strong libel laws, banning advertising for cigarettes, the "Fairness Doctrine", and other such issues doesn't go murdering a dozen cartoonists in cold blood.