TFTRH #27 - Michael Shermer


Dr Michael Shermer is founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor-in-chief of its magazine Skeptic. He's written several books on science and skepticism and his latest work is an audio-only 12-part course, for Audible and The Great Courses, called Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should and Shouldn't Believe—and Why. We cover the full spectrum of conspiracies, their history and context, their social and psychological causes and their very real effects. We discuss real and false conspiracies, and how to tell the difference. We then finish up with UFOs, the Intellectual Dark Web, and the Skeptical Movement.

Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories can be found on Audible or via Amazon.

Skeptic’s Society and Magazine -
Michael Shermer on Facebook -
Michael Shermer on Twitter -
Episode Web Page -
Apple Podcast -
I've made it a little more than half way through so far.

Listening to Shermer, he's one of those people who causes me to have to take a couple days to recover from the realization that I'm dumb as a rock. ;)

Great conversation.
Shermer at 49:00
Sure there's a conspiracy theory about this: that Jews are responsible for these awful destructive developments. A Nazi just tried to shoot up a synagogue in Germany because "Feminism is the cause of decline in birth rates in the West" and "The Holocaust never happened" and something about mass immigration, and "The root of all these problems is the Jew."
It's a good idea to find common ground by bringing up real conspiracies like MKULTRA and COINTELPRO, but those real conspiracies as well as false conspiracy theories about 9/11 or FEMA camps don't hold a candle to an actual government conspiracy to commit genocide, yet Holocaust deniers deny that one.
And in general, conspiracy theorists deny actual conspiracies by Nazi Germany or Al Qaeda or Russia, and substitute their own fake ones about crisis actors or Seth Rich or whatever. This is explained better by motivated reasoning than by other cognitive biases like agenticity. Agenticity may explain why people see conspiracies where there are none, like chemtrails, but it doesn't explain why they deny actual conspiracies and substitute fake ones.
Calling 9/11 truthers "skeptics" muddies the waters. See my previous comment.

Shermer is a lifelong libertarian, and he's linked skepticism with libertarianism.
See for example: "Michael Shermer – Science, Skepticism And Libertarianism"
What turned me off libertarianism was the prevalence of anti-government conspiracy theories about vaccines, water fluoridation, 9/11, mass shootings, FEMA camps, Global Warming, the Federal Reserve, the moon landings, anything that might justify government intervention.