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View Full Version : Intellectual Pyramid Schemes



W.F. Tomba
2005-Feb-24, 07:32 AM
Here's an interesting thought: many conspiracy theories, and other woo-woo ideas, take the form of an intellectual pyramid scheme. You begin by making a claim. This puts you in a sort of debt, because you must supply evidence to substantiate the claim. But of course you have no evidence, so instead you make several more claims, draw conclusions from them, and use those conclusions as evidence to support your first claim. So far, so good, but now you have several claims to pay back. So you make an even larger number of claims . . .

This ever-expanding tendency of woo-woo theories should not be a revelation to many of you, but the analogy to a pyramid scheme is interesting.

mickal555
2005-Feb-24, 07:57 AM
Interesting.....
:-k
Yeah so thats why they get so bogged until it consumes their life.

CTM VT 2K
2005-Feb-24, 08:29 AM
Huh. And all this time I thought it was the reverse-vampires in collusion with the Chub Group and the Egg Council that was behind it.... :lol:

mickal555
2005-Feb-24, 08:52 AM
I dunno about this intellectual pyramid scheme... I mean the intellectual part....

TriangleMan
2005-Feb-24, 11:41 AM
Here's an interesting thought: many conspiracy theories, and other woo-woo ideas, take the form of an intellectual pyramid scheme. You begin by making a claim. This puts you in a sort of debt, because you must supply evidence to substantiate the claim. But of course you have no evidence, so instead you make several more claims, draw conclusions from them, and use those conclusions as evidence to support your first claim. So far, so good, but now you have several claims to pay back. So you make an even larger number of claims . . . .
The motivations for many woo2 theories can be more complicated then that. Some are purely in it for the money and will promote any nonsense that keeps the $$$ rolling in, others like the fame and attention. Some appear to be just deluded and truly believe that they are correct, in which case they do not feel that they have an intellectual debt to begin with. Yet others appear to have a mental illness. So the pyramid scheme might apply to only a select group.

jfribrg
2005-Feb-24, 12:21 PM
Here's an interesting thought: many conspiracy theories, and other woo-woo ideas, take the form of an intellectual pyramid scheme. You begin by making a claim. This puts you in a sort of debt, because you must supply evidence to substantiate the claim. But of course you have no evidence, so instead you make several more claims, draw conclusions from them, and use those conclusions as evidence to support your first claim. So far, so good, but now you have several claims to pay back. So you make an even larger number of claims . . . .
The motivations for many woo2 theories can be more complicated then that. Some are purely in it for the money and will promote any nonsense that keeps the $$$ rolling in, others like the fame and attention. Some appear to be just deluded and truly believe that they are correct, in which case they do not feel that they have an intellectual debt to begin with. Yet others appear to have a mental illness. So the pyramid scheme might apply to only a select group.

I like the analogy. Regardless of the motivations, the actions do fit the description of a pyramid scheme for some woo-woo's. I don't think it applies in all cases, but in enough of them to make it a good analogy.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Feb-24, 02:19 PM
The motivations for many woo2 theories can be more complicated then that. Some are purely in it for the money and will promote any nonsense that keeps the $$$ rolling in, others like the fame and attention. Some appear to be just deluded and truly believe that they are correct, in which case they do not feel that they have an intellectual debt to begin with. Yet others appear to have a mental illness. So the pyramid scheme might apply to only a select group.
I was thinking of the form rather than the motivation. If you're just in it for the money or attention, you still have to find a way to convince people without having any actual evidence. Of course, some people are credulous and will more or less take you at your word, but others will want at least an explanation for why you believe your central claims. I have noticed even on this board that the more you press woo-woo theorists for evidence, the more often this pyramid-like argument appears.

It's not the only strategy, of course. Being confusing and incoherent, for example, makes it hard for your claims to be examined because it's unclear what they are. Perhaps this can be compared to money laundering. :)

jamestox
2005-Feb-24, 02:41 PM
:-k

You may have something there, W. F. I think I'd have to agree with others that the model doesn't fit all of the conspiracists, though.

Hmmmm....also, I've noticed that most conspiracy-minded types tend to "parrot" statements without question that eventually become a conspiracy "credo" over time ("You can't see the stars in the picture...there has to be air there for the flag to move...no single person can fire that many shots under that kind of pressure....") - regardless of how well - or how many times - said credo has been debunked, through research, eyewitness accounts, or plain old common sense. It's almost as though they are willing the credo to life through endless repetition; if they repeat it enough and will it hard enough, it'll be true.

Talk about a self-imposed blindness...... :-?

sidmel
2005-Feb-24, 09:26 PM
I've noticed that most conspiracy-minded types tend to "parrot" statements...

So now we have the Intellectual Integration Pyramid Schemes

"IIPS" - I like it, especially since it rymes with dips... Displaced Intellectual...

jfribrg
2005-Feb-24, 09:41 PM
Giving the general thought pattern a good analogy can actually help in debunking. Instead of a bunch of technical arguments that many folks don't care to pay attention to, you can use the term "pyramid scheme" to emphasize that all the arguments have the same basic flaw. You can still go into details if necessary, but it helps keep the focus on the bigger picture.