The quick, dirty and nonexhaustive list of bullshit indicators

Right. So it's the Internet, and apart from more-or-less respectable news sources such as the Guardian and Telegraph, you also have the more...ah...unconventional elements, such as Infoshop and Ye Olde False Flag. I see nothing wrong with that - the more news sources, the better. I get quite a lot of my news from Twitter, as the mainstream media often takes a while to pick up stories.

Unfortunately, with the Internet comes Sturgeon's Law and an army of tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists. The mainstream media has got things wrong before, and it's always good to have new perspectives on things; there's nothing wrong with questioning authority.

This is not about those people.

This is about the people who think that the world will end in 2012, the Illuminati fixed everything up to be this way, the government put sodium amytal in the water sources, or whatever random crap they're coming up with next. I have no respect for them. Instead of applying cold, hard logic to a problem, they fix everything up as some ancient conspiracy or claim that the government did it without evidence. And they've ensnared a lot of people. This is a quick and dirty list of warning signs - if these come up in a news source, run like hell and do not trust that source again.

  • The Illuminati are not behind everything.
  • The world will not end in 2012 - if a source is claiming it will and it has anything to do with Mayan calendars, it's wrong. If they claim science shows it will, read up about the science.
  • Alex Jones has the opposite of a Midas touch - anything in his hands is pure weapons-grade bullshit and should be ignored.
  • Jews did not do WTC.
  • Neither did the government.
  • Neither did atheists.
  • Loose Change is not a reliable source of information.
If you want to know more about this, I highly suggest you read Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson. You may disagree with his politics - I know I do. That doesn't stop me from thinking the book's awesome.

Another good way to combat conspiracy theories and bullshit indicators is good old-fashioned scepticism. There are many, many books, online communities, resources, and a million other things out them, and I wouldn't be able to make up a list of even my selected picks. You just have to read around a lot and see what works for you. I think my two favourites were Discarded Science and Corrupted Science, both by John Grant. Eight Preposterous Propositions, by Robert Ehrlich, is very good as well, as is Bad Science by Ben can see how much stuff there is out there, can't you? I highly suggest that you read all these books, then go out and do your own research as a cherry on top. Non-scientific people, this might sound tedious, but it will teach you sceptical thinking - a gift that will last you a lifetime.