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The Problem With Conspiracy Theories Reloaded Colon The Next Generation of Electric Boogaloo (Plus How and Why This Applies to Language Acquisition)

Again, the problem with conspiracy theories isn’t that they’re not true — people do conspire. The problem is that they subvert, invert and erase all basic standards of reasoning and logical consistency. They tend not to be falsifiable, which makes them worse than true/untrue — it makes them unusable for practical purposes, like a dirty blanky or extreme religious beliefs, they’re comforting at an emotional level, but they serve no practical purpose; you can’t take them out of the house and get things done with them.

If some person or group of people is capable of successfully planning, seeing and executing every move in minute detail years ahead, with no significant errors or deviations whatsoever, that’s no longer an ordinary human, that’s a god of some kind.

For many years, I’ve really enjoyed conspiracy theories. They mimic my favorite type of fiction — science fiction that’s written in non-fiction style. Some people love fantasy tales, love stories or monster movies. I like tales that mimic reality really closely. It’s all fun and games to me. Call it urban mythology.

But, unfortunately, there are real consequences to this urban mythology. One easy example is the rampant anti-Semitism. And we all know where anti-Semitism leads. Not all conspiracy theories are anti-Semitic, but you only have to throw a stone to hit twelve that are.

Another example of the danger of conspiracy theory logic is the mistreatment of American and Canadian citizens of Japanese descent in the 1940s. These people had their property stolen (and never returned, by the way) and then got thrown into concentration camps right in the free world. When it was pointed out that there was literally not a single case of sabotage by Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians, a high-ranking US official claimed that the total absence of evidence of sabotage was itself evidence of a big, bad plan.

Wait, what?

So, the presence of evidence of sabotage necessitates stripping Nikkeijin (日系人, にっけいじん) of their rights, and so does the absence of evidence?
If A then B, and
if not A then also B?
That literally means that A has nothing to do with B. A does not determine B in any sense.

German-Americans were fine. They got to be generals: Eisenhower, Nimitz, Spaatz. Schmidt. Even Hitler’s nephew (yeah, same surname) joined the Navy to much fanfare. And those who didn’t join the military were unmolested as civilians — and this is a good thing. When it comes to basic human rights, everyone deserves nice things. [IIRC things weren’t such smooth sailing for ze German immigrants during WW1, especially if you were a Dachshund or showed any affinity for the heritage language].

But back to the topic at hand. Look. No “cabal” powerful enough to control all world events, is going to conveniently leave glaring visual clues that one brave, lonely dumba$$ on the Internet can then put into a viral YouTube video. Just…stop. Honestly.

Maybe the entire world is fake. Maybe we live in the Matrix. But even if that were true, then rules and logic of the “fake” Matrix world — rules like gravity, falsifiability and basic logic — would still matter. If everything is fake, then basic principles of logic and evidence are the first fallback, not the first thing we abandon. If nothing else, we should be neutral, not spinning up gigantic edifices of paranoiac thinking.

Street smarts still apply. So gravity is fake news? OK, cool. But don’t test it by jumping out the window. “They” are reading everything you write? OK, cool. But still don’t post about your personal life online. Vaccines cause autism? OK, cool. Vaccinate your kids anyway and maybe they can get the ’tism and be a reclusive programmer like me 😉 ; maybe they’ll develop an app to deprogram your gullible a$$ out of taking urban mythology narratives too seriously. It’s all good, brah.

Sorry, I know I’m losing focus. Let me just say this.

Saying that everything is a lie is not an excuse to go off the rails. If anything it demands that we become more focussed, more empirical, more experimental, more rational, more logical, more rigorous, more consistent, both more open to new ideas and more exacting in our standards for keeping those ideas.

How does this apply to learning Japanese? Easy.

AJATT is a red pill experience. School is fake — doesn’t work, wastes your time. Textbooks are fake — boring, waste of time. But that doesn’t mean we huddle up in a bunker and give up. It means we go out there and try all kinds of new stuff. You think your SRS format has problems? You don’t give up! You go full Darwinian. You set up multiple SRS decks, each with its own format, let them compete against each other and see which comes out the most successfull (hint: it’s MCDs/MXDs (Massive-Context Cloze Deletion Cards)).

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