When it comes to evaluating claims, skeptics tend to adopt the well-known Sagan Standard: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” But what, exactly, is evidence? After all, conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists often present a great deal of “evidence” for their claims. In fact, many conspiracy theorists themselves repeat Carl Sagan’s standard as a motto, believing that they do indeed possess extraordinary evidence. In this talk, I discuss different ways that the concept of evidence is used rhetorically in conspiracy claims. We will take a deep dive into what “evidence” means - and the work it does - for conspiracy theorists, as well as why “bad evidence” is often so persuasive.
Speaker: Jenny Rice, University of Kentucky
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