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A while back zensidhe and I were chatting about the various flavors of conspiracy theorists ("CTs"), and how their behaviors tend to follow a well-established pattern. I'd just received a scathing message on YouTube from a CT demanding that I "prove" that FEMA doesn't have secret underground concentration camps, and mentioned that I should keep a tally of logical fallacies and absurd accusations.

We did some brainstorming, and thus was born...

The Conspiracy Theorist Nutjob Game!

Here's how it works - Pick your favorite conspiracy theory, then go online, find a forum where CTs congregate, and engage one in a healthy dialog. Remain rational and keep the ad hominems to a reasonable minimum. When replies from the nutjobs (directed specifically to you) come in, start tallying up your score!

Get called "sheeple" - 5 points (per CT, not per accusation)
Get called "lemming" - 3 points (per CT, not per accusation)
Get called a "government shill" or otherwise accused of being a government agent - 10 points (per CT, not per accusation)
15 points for each logical fallacy pointed out to a conspiracy theorist.
CT calls you arrogant - 2 points
CT takes offense to being politely asked to back up a claim with data or an external source - 1 point
Correct a CT's spelling and/or grammar - 1 pt per infraction (maximum 3 points per message)
Point out a self-contradiction - 10 points
Have a CT admit that they're wrong about a minor point - 20 points
Have a CT admit that their conspiracy theory is wrong and genuinely change their mind - 500 points!
Get a response from a CT with more upper case letters than lower case - 10 points
Have a CT Godwin himself - 20 points
Have a CT invoke an unrelated conspiracy theory to support their own conspiracy theory ("9/11 was staged to cover up the faked moon landing!") - 20 points.
Bust a CT in a blatant lie (ex. CT claims to have met Neil Armstrong in 1970 but his profile lists his age as 25) - 5 points
Get them to acknowledge that they lied - 100 points
More exclamation points than words in a CT response - 10 points
CT refers to "psy ops", "mind control", or "thought police" - 10 points
CT cites the Bible or Koran as a technical or historical source - 20 points
Matrix / "rabbit hole" reference - 2 points
CT cites a work of fiction to support their theory - 20 points (25 points if CT doesn't realize that it's a work of fiction)
CT accuses you of being brainwashed - 1 point (per CT, not per accusation)
CT accuse of you of 'sock puppeting' other users that support your argument - 15 points per account they incorrectly claim is you in disguise
CT misquotes a trusted authority, or quotes out of context to reverse the meaning - 20 points
CT misquotes you from another debate - 15 points
Any death of known, non-suspicious cause attributed to covert government assassination - 5 points
CT accuses you of secretly being James Randi - 30 points

Please note that combinations are possible. Ex. if they accuse you of being Psy Ops for the government then it'd be 20 points - 10 for mentioning psy ops and 10 for the "government shill" bonus. If you do actually work for the government, you are eligible for this only if your area of work has nothing to do with the topic at hand. For example, if you work at a municipal water treatment plant you can get the "shill bonus" in a moon hoax debate, but not in an anti-fluoridation debate.

Additionally, any mention of the following is worth 1 point each, but awardable only once each per CT per player:
Moon Hoax
Weather Control
Area 51
World Bank
New World Order
Illuminati OR Freemasons
"Water fuel" OR Electric Car
Free Energy
Black Helicopter
Iron Mountain
FEMA detention/concentration camps
Large Hadron Collider/black hole/doomsday
"Darwinist" or "Evolutionist" (not "Darwin" or "Evolution")

The above bonuses must come from a conspiracy theorist or they don't count. Asking a doctor what age a child should be vaccinated, asking a Freemason how one joins their organization, or asking a herpetologist about reptiles doesn't cut it. :-) Context counts!

You should be able to provide a link to the CT's comment, or at least save a copy of the message, their username, and the URL of the forum in which you received the message. However, scoring is ultimately on the honor system and the categories allow for judgment calls. Point totals are cumulative, and points never expire.

If you have a suggestion for an additional score category, post it here! This is absolutely a work in progress. Also, since I've been debating CTs for a couple of years now, in the interest of fairness I'm cleaning the slate. Scoring starts today (12 Sept 2008), and nothing prior to today counts. I'll be posting my own scores in this thread. Feel free to do likewise if you wish, or keep score on your own!

Get out there and join the fun!

Please note that the intention here is not to ridicule or antagonize the mentally ill. Rather, my hope is to draw attention to the vast quantity of bad information being spread online and encourage people to learn to evaluate claims - ALL claims - rationally and skeptically.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 12th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
Inaugural Score: 10 points

YouTube user straydog02 posted the following comment to my video:
"What a load of disinformation CRAP!.. You may as well admit that you work for the government to suppress the truth of everything they don't want the masses to know about."

+10 points for accusation of being a government shill
Sep. 15th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
+20 points for Godwin - Total: 30 points
In the same thread, YouTube user IndigoElder left this comment:
"Perry DeAngelis, another Propagandist
of Joseph Goebbels size."

If there are no objections, I'm going to call Godwin on that and score 20 points.
Dec. 11th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
+5 points for Sheeple - Total: 35 points
In this thread: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBG6QzaEj64

YouTube user air1883 stated:
"The official story is obviously wrong as there is no sound scientific evidence backing it up and all the evidence points to an inside job so wake up and realise sheepy"

It's good to be back in the game!
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 12th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Oooooh-SNAP!
The image that brings to mind is most definitely *not* family friendly! ;-)
Sep. 13th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
If you do actually work for the government, you are eligible for this only if your area of work has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Hm, I teach physics, astronomy, and occasionally earth science at a public community college, and hence am a state employee. Does this mean I'm barred the categories of the LHC, Moon Hoax, Global Warming, and more? I think vaccinations and AIDS may be the only topics left for me on your list, and I don't really find either entertaining.

I recommend adding "darwinist" and "evolutionist" to your 1 pt per topic list.
Sep. 13th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
"Does this mean I'm barred the categories of the LHC, Moon Hoax, Global Warming, and more?"

It only means that you're ineligible to get the "accused of being a government agent" credit, since it could be argued that you actually are. You can still get any or all of the other credits though, regardless of topic. I say go for it!

"I recommend adding "darwinist" and "evolutionist" to your 1 pt per topic list."

You know, I'd considered adding "Darwin" or "evolution", but decided not to include them since the game is focused on conspiracy theorist nutjobs and not creationist nutjobs. However, given the efforts of people like Ben Stein to twist the academic rejection of Intelligent Design into a conspiracy theory, I think that "darwinist" and "creationist" are fair game. Added! And thanks for the contribution!
Sep. 13th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Nice! Here's another. And another (my personal favorite). And another. :-)
Sep. 13th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
If you replace every 5 points with "Take a drink", this game becomes a part game most epic.

If you replace every 1 point with "Take a drink", this game becomes dangerous to your liver.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 18th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
Re: New Score Idea.
Agreed, but I'm only going to put it down for 30 points. I've been accused of being Phil Plait, so this can't be *that* rare. However, in 30 or 40 years (I hope!) when Randi passes we need to revisit this and probably add a zero to the point value. :-)
Sep. 18th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Re: New Score Idea.
So here's a question - is James Randi eligible for this one?
Sep. 16th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
just awesome
Eric, you are just BRUTAL.

Way too much fun. I'm afraid I've never been a good debater - so I will leave it to you to bash the stupid in the head time and again, with the following warning: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I fear that you will verbally bludgeon these idiots to the point of TKO but they will never realize it because you're *up here* on the "I am a non-retarded rational and logical human being" scale while they're *way down there* (include appropriate hand gestures in that statement).

Happy hunting!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )