Repository of Good Information?

I posted a list that is a compilation of -seventy-five studies that show no link between vaccines and autism. Would it be possible to have a forum with lists of similar ignorance debunking on topics that come up frequently like the argument that 9-11 was an inside job?

Just a suggestion that I thought might be very useful for my fellow posters.

It’s an interesting idea. I’ll bring it up with the mods. Certainly, there are some topics where the facts seem to be irrefutable, and yet…

Heck, every so often, someone still stumbles across the old snopes’ April Fool joke about how Mr Ed was really a zebra, and writes asking Cecil about it. Some stupidities just don’t die.

It may seem counter-intuitive but research in vaccine messaging (PDF) has suggested that lists like this may actually do more harm than good.

The same principle probably applies to other things like conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, new age ‘woo’ and many of our other favorite topics.

Trying to stifle conversation about them by saying “This is already proven/disproven, check the FAQ (or sticky, or new repository of useful information)” could actually reinforce those false beliefs and discourage a discussion of them which might possibly be able dispel them if presented effectively.

Fighting ignorance is complicated.

I can’t read Crazyhorse’s link at the moment, but just intuitively and as a former antivaxxer, I would have to agree. While education did eventually get through to me, it was education inside conversation. Lists are a good thing to link to within a post personally addressing the person’s concern or situation, but as a stand alone response, it’s not going to persuade anyone. In fact, I suspect it will make some people double down in their beliefs. A “we’ve done this before LINK” post doesn’t invite introspection or growth on the part of the reader, rather it suggests that they are unimportant, stupidly slow and their concerns unworthy of attention (which, while it may be true, is not an effective strategy if the goal is to change their behavior.)

Remember that everyone thinks they’re special. Everyone sees their circumstance as unique and individual, and the best way to influence them is to listen and engage their specific concerns with individualized feedback. It’s frustrating and boring and much more labor intensive to have the same conversation over and over and over, but ultimately I suspect it’s much more effective.

A long list of references probably won’t be as effective as an applied list.

For instance, a vaccine list could be subdivided into sections dealing with autism, “toxins”, the claim that vaccines did not reduce or eliminate infectious disease etc.* Similarly, lists dealing specifically with the most popular aspects of 9/11 nuttery would be helpful.

Good sources will never convince determined ignorance, but will likely sway the undecideds (however many exist on message boards like this one). Beyond that, it’s convenient for rational posters to have a ready source of reliable evidence to cite, without having to look up sources repeatedly and waste our incredibly valuable time.

*as to the linked study about supposed ineffectiveness of pro-vax messages, the key line is “Corrective information reduced misperceptions about the vaccine/autism link but nonetheless decreased intent to vaccinate among parents with the least favorable attitudes toward vaccines.” (bolding added). In other words, the most hard-core types (on any subject, especially those laden with conspiracy overtones) tend to be immune to reason; it doesn’t mean that less severely afflicted people are.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “We need a shiny new “Debunking” sub-forum.”

I know these sort of proposals rarely get much traction with TPTB, but what with all the misinformation out there, it’d be great to corral such non-sense into one, spearheaded forum, no?

A nice example is there’s no real home for something like LavenderBlue’s post in MPSIMS on anti-vaccine debunking. Debunking and the SDMB just feels like a perfect fit.

So, why not?

Hasn’t this just been suggested?

I wouldn’t present a list of links as an argument, but it would be useful for me to go to in order to brush up on the facts that are the basis for my argument.

Since there is already a thread on basically the same suggestion, I’ve merged the two.

Thanks. Hadn’t noticed.

I don’t see how this is remotely forum worthy. If the Dope wanted to maintain some page with links to common debunking subjects, ok. But are we going to have a whole forum where people simply drop off links to their favorite “debunking”?

No. Certainly, like the other sub-forums, we can have stickies at the top including links to cites and sources debunking the most popular CTs and the like, but GQ is a forum for fighting factual ignorance. Where’s the forum for fighting factual misinformation?

Threads produce cluttered conversation. This sounds like a project for some sort of editor. Maybe we should expand Staff Reports to include lists? I like the OP’s idea, btw, I just believe we should think hard about presentation.

Any bibliographic type cites could be an ever-growing (locked but curated) Sticky at the top of the forum. A general bunch of Stickies to categorize the main genres. Then subsequent posts under a Sticky would have a well presented list of sites (perhaps with a description blurb) for that particular piece of wide-spread bunk. e.g.:

Sticky: Government Conspiracies
-post 1—A list of Truther debunking
-post 2—Chemtrails
-post 3—A list of Illuminati debunking

Sticky: Science & Tech Conspiracies
-post 1—A list of Fake Apollo Lunar Landing debunking
-post 2—UFO Visitation/UFOlogy
-post 3—Evolution
-post 4—Cryptozoology

Sticky: Politics
-post 1—A list of Birther debunking
-post 2—Obama’s a Muslem Terrorist.

Sticky: Medical and Environment.
-post 1—Anti-Vaccine
-post 2—Yellow Dye PCB-11
-post 3—Global Warming

(You get the idea)

Then, you’d have quite an active forum fervently discussing CTs, misinformation, junk/pseudoscience, and other propaganda and BS not grounded in reality.

Quite simple, really. Hell, I volunteer to Mod it. :cool:

Yeah, I’d think this would be a labor of love by a well motivated and newly minted moderator. Maybe with his own scientific advisory board and off-site wiki/webpage. It’s ambitious but methinks not impossible. A worthy effort for a site devoted to fighting ignorance.

As noted upthread, it would be more useful as a skeptic reference than as a tool for conversion.

I imagine most of the cites would be a living Sticky(s) aggregated from the SDMB user base themselves. Perhaps not comprehensive at the start, but over enough time…

I would advocate giving the mod the power to rearrange and cull the list at will. That implies this would be an inevitably opinionated project by a given moderator, which happens to fall under the SDMB umbrella. Sounds like a good job for a librarian.

Debate and drama would occur in the unlocked threads, presumably. I’m guessing that questioning that mod’s decisions would generally be done within that forum. Or maybe there would be an ongoing ATMB thread for misc issues. Not sure.

Also, we need a name. The Library? LavenderBlue’s Circle of Terror?

Exactly. I meant to state the stickies would be locked and only appended by a mod or admin.

Otherwise, it’d act as a normal sub-forum here dedicated to discussion and debate against misinformation and pseudoscience.

My I say that I think that this is an absolutely terrible idea, and not at all the sort of thing the SDMB should be getting into. It could seriously unbalance the board, and lead to the demise of everything good about it.

I have nothing against individual posters occasionally posting OPs of debunking material, as LavenderBlue recently did, and if Cecil or his paymasters wanted to do it as part of the main site, that would be a different matter too, but it should not be institutionalized as part of the message board. To do so would amount to imposing a “party line” opinion on any discussion of the relevant topics, and would suggest that all board members and “guests” either do or ought to subscribe to the debunking. AS a board, we have no authority to debunk anything, or to decide waht is worthy of debunking. What we have are individual posters and teh strengths (and weaknesses) of their individual arguments.

No one who firmly subscribes to a debunk-worthy idea is going to visit a forum that is explicitly for debunking stuff. For those whose minds are not made up, but who want to know more, we have GQ. Much of what goes on there is, in fact, debunking.

Furthermore, there is already a well known and mostly very good site devoted to debunking: It does not make a good message board, just as the SDMB would not make a good Snopes.

Nonetheless, this board is about factual information, with a membership from all walks of life in all fields of profession, academia, research and experience.

Asking and answering a question out of honest ignorance is one thing, but in the internet age, I find misinformation, CTs and pseudoscience as worthy, if not a more formidable and arguably worthwhile thing to fight along with general ignorance.

It’s not 1973 anymore.