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Special Articles — Practical Debunking

I'm a debunker, which means I investigate dubious claims of evidence and if I find things wrong with those claims then I try to communicate that to the people who were taken in by them (or who might fall for it in the future). I mostly look at A) conspiracy theories that have some kind of science based claim, and B) unidentified phenomena, which are usually, but not always, flying. I do what I do because I find it fun and interesting, but also because I think I am helping people - both at the individual level and more broadly at a societal level. Truth is important, false claims (even seemingly ridiculous ones like Flat Earth) can have a harmful effect. Effective debunking presents two challenges. Firstly there's the challenge of investigating the claim or the unidentified phenomena. That's the fun part and often the easier part to get results from. The tricker part is in explaining the results of the investigation to people. This is a more significant challenge because most people are not very good at math and science, and because people who believe in conspiracy theories and strange causes of phenomena are often strongly motivated to reject alternative explanations. So the communication phase of debunk presents a significant challenge that I enjoy trying to figure out. So that's what I'd like to cover: investigation and communication - and in both cases covering the general "how too" aspect in combination with actual interesting and relevant examples and lessons learned in the field - ideally with real people.

In Defense of Debunkers

In Defense of Debunkers


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by Mick West
Practical Debunking
June 13, 2018

Words, especially those used as labels, are tricky things.