The Basics: Critical Thinking, Informal Logic, The Scientific Method

Main 9/11 links page 

The Basics
Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit
Michael Shermer on the Scientific Method
A "theory" in science is like a guess or a hunch, right?
Michael Shermer: Not all wrong theories are equal.
Distinguishing science and pseudoscience
Bad Science: Dr. Ben Goldacre's excellent blog  http://www.badscience.net/
A Field Guide to Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking Mini Lessons
A Guide to Logical Fallacies
A simple guide to common logical fallacies
Fallacy Watch: How to Read a Poll
Denialism Blog: How to be a crank
Propaganda and debating techniques (Thanks, anticonspiracy911)
The Woo-Woo Credo
7 Stupid Thinking Errors You Probably Make (identifying sources of bias)
Study: How Warnings about False Claims Become Recommendations

Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
Interestingly, the Innumeracy site linked above is promoting this book:
"200% Of Nothing : An Eye-Opening Tour Through the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy" ...A. K. Dewdney. This book further explores numbers and has many examples of math abuse. In it he explains the many ways that numbers can be twisted and used to trick you."
I've heard that Dewdney's books on math and statistics are worth reading. However, Dewdney, who is apparently a 9/11 conspiracist, designed a series of experiments to test cell phone usage in aircraft, as an analog to the calls made by victims from the hijacked aircraft on 9/11 (never mind that the vast majority of those calls were made with the planes' installed GTE Airphones). Dewdney tipped his hand by naming his experiments "Project Achilles." The experiments were poorly designed and Dewdney egregiously twisted the data he gathered to try to support his preconceptions. He then chose to publish his findings in an online journal that specializes in Holocaust denial.

STATS FAQ: good primer about how to interpret statistics used in studies, from George Mason University 


Some oganizations that promote critical thinking. Support them!
The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)Join the JREF Forum
The Skeptic Society (Michael Shermer)
Entertaining 14-minute talk by Michael Shermer about science, critical thinking, confirmation bias
The Bad Astronomer (Phil Plait)
The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe
Skepchicks
The New England Skeptical Society
Weird Science
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry / The Skeptical Inquirer
The Skeptical Community Forum
Robert Carroll's The Skeptic's Dictionary
Point of Inquiry podcasts
Quackwatch
Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages
The Straight Dope
The National Association of Bunco Investigators: Cons & Scams
Internet Scams
Mythbusters TV show test results

Recommended books about critical thinking, delusions, and science vs. pseudoscience
Michael Shermer: Why People Believe Weird Things
Carl Sagan: The Demon-Haunted World : Science As a Candle in the Dark
How We Know What Isn't So by Thomas Gilovich
Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud by Robert Park
Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments by T. Edward Damer
Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions by James Randi
Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland
Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman
Strunk & White: The Elements of Style. That's right: the marvelously concise and lucid grammar and composition book. Helpful reminders for turning clear thinking into clear writing.


The Basics and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories:
Some thoughts from members of the JREF Forums*

Conspiracy Theories as Examples of Pure Dogma by Mark Fournier

Common 9/11 Conspiracist Mistakes
aggle-rithm on falsifiability
CurtC: The official version of 9/11 events is properly falsifiable
Beleth: Affirming the precendent fallacy: are parakeets cats?
Myriad: "One in a million" coincidences?
CurtC CT: Probability problems
Gravy: CT argumentum ad numerum
Polaris: "Cui bono" no-no
aggle-rithm on polling: Phrasing makes all the difference
VespaGuy on similarities between creationist/intelligent design and 9/11 conspiracist thought
MRC_Hans: If a theory is not necessary to explain observed facts, it is idle speculation.

Evidently Not
chipmunk stew: Why the official version makes sense
aggle-rithm on corroborating evidence
Regnad Kcin: Evidence, please.
Regnad Kcin on standards of evidence, "inescapable conclusions"
Tirdun on Truther logic: Titanic + iceberg
chipmunk stew: Science trumps CT "common sense"
Huntsman: Evidence is more like multiplication than addition

Keeping Occam's Razor Stropped
Dr. Adequate: O! Occam!
Bob_Kark: Occam's dull razor: unnecessary complexity
c4ts: Postulate plurality at your own risk!
R. Mackey: Any conspirators with the means to execute this plan, would not execute this plan.
Garrette: Why no WMDs in Iraq?
Dr. Adequate: The conspirators sure screwed up: every CT in town knows it!
Ed: Occam's BJ
Ripley twenty-nine: Bad Bamboozlers
Pardalis: K.I.S.S.
R. Mackey: If I Were an Evil Genius
CHF: Truther-stumping questions
ref: 9/11 Benefit/Risk Analysis

Believe your own senses? That depends.
Forensic psychology and eyewitness memory
Sultanist: Events of 9/11 didn't look "normal" because they weren't normal.
ferd burfle: "Just use your own eyes"...no, sometimes other sensors must be used.
steve s: I heard gunshots! No, I didn't.
Polaris: Are those gay platypuses humping on a coffee table?
Gravy: Scholars for YouTube
Ask a suggestive question, elicit a "recovered memory!"

Protesting Productively
Pardalis: No need to lie to protest government actions.
chipmunk stew: You're chasing phantoms, not confronting evil.
Manny: CTs distract from important questions
Arkan_Wolfshade: CTs not harmless / Chomsky

If 9/11 conspiracists believe what they say, why do they act as they do?
Euromutt: If 9/11 CTs believe what they say, why do they act as they do?
Dr. Adequate: CTs are safe from harm...from the evil conspirators who have no regard for human life?
Ramooone: Why do the CTs trust the Gov't in so many ways? (beliefs inconsistent with behavior)
shuize: Why do the CTs trust the Gov't in so many ways? (beliefs inconsistent with behavior)

U.S. Iraq motive, WMDs, "One World Government," Terrorists as Patsies
aggle-rithm: MANY people would love to have evidence against Bush & neocons.
chipmunk stew: UN "globalists" control U.S. policy and want a one-world government?
aggle-rithm: U.S. Government is a monolithic entity? Ha!
Huntsman: The motive was war with Iraq? Huh?
T.A.M.: Bush is somehow maintaining control by not capturing bin Laden but capturing/killing others?
Horatius: The almighty NWO think it's too much of a bother to create a new bad guy? (Feb. 2007)
Horatius: MIHOP vs. LIHOP claims
Year Zero: Incredibly Inconvenient Question for 9-11 Conspiracy theorists
Corsair 115: It's all about the oil? U.S. crude imports 2001-2006
Ron Wieck: The "conspirators" are compelled by whom?

A word to the wise...
Regnad Kcin: You're wedded to a myth.
Shrinker: Predictions about the 9/11 Truth Movement
Shuize: When you cling to CT like a religion, it's hard not to dodge and weave.
Are these 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Still Around?
Manny: Sage Advice to a CT
Sultanist: Why?

JREF conspiracy theories forum archive index

* I am not affiliated with the James Randi Educational Foundation. The opinions in the posts linked above are of their authors, who also do not represent the JREF.