Skip to content

The Debunking Handbook

November 30, 2011

Here’s a good primer for debunking myths from Skeptical Science. The Debunking Handbook by John Cook (Global Change Institute, University of Queensland) and Stephan Lewandowsky (School of Psychology, University of Western Australia) delve into the problems inherent in debunking myths. From the PDF’s introduction:

Debunking myths is problematic. Unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct. To avoid these “backfire effects”, an effective debunking requires three major elements. First, the refutation must focus on core facts rather than the myth to avoid the misinformation becoming more familiar. Second, any mention of a myth should be preceded by explicit warnings to notify the reader that the upcoming information is false. Finally, the refutation should include an alternative explanation that accounts for important qualities in the original misinformation.

The tips in the handbook are useful when debating with brainwashed members of MLM organizations. Often times, we are surprised at how stubborn and steadfast MLM-proponents can be, even when presented with the truth right in their faces. Many ex-TEAM members and MLM critics, myself included, are guilty of providing too much information. Dubbed the overkill backfire effect, this might be causing the myth — for instance that you can be successful in MLM — to be reinforced in the mind of the brainwashed. One solution, Cook and Lewandowsky argue, is to keep our arguments lean and simple to understand and follow.

There’s plenty more, so check out the PDF link here and comment below on how you might improve your arguments when talking with those lost within the haze of an unsuccessful MLM career.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2011 6:36 pm

    Thanks I’m going to add this to my list of things to read – probably near the top.


  1. Debunking Handbook: update and feedback
  2. Climate Change News | Planetsave

Leave a Reply. Because your thoughtful opinions are valued, you are encouraged to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if your comments are edited for clarity or to keep out questionable matters. Off-topic and inflammatory comments may be deleted. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers. The accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: