Introduction to the misinformation rhetoric repository

The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. … How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again

  • Mark Twain (now Brandolini’s law)

Misinformation repository of researched soundbites

  • To document how discussions with others proceed, so as to improve our rhetoric,
  • To obtain peer review on our responses (help keep our cool and maintain sanity!),
  • And to systematically build and refine (perhaps even A/B test) concise, understandable, exhaustively-researched, easily verifiable retorts.

When you talk to someone who believes something silly, I often find myself synthesizing evidence (which is often worded in complex scientific shorthand, or buried in press releases) into concise, trust-able responses; and of course nobody has time to research all the facts, so after enough you start running out of time to research things.

There are some pretty good sources of truth on the internet, like

I think they mostly have the facts sorted. It seems like a good job is to now compile these into copy-and-paste replies. At every stage of an argument,

There is a zero-tolerance for ad-hominem rhetoric, even here in private.

Glib remarks like

studies of the backfire effect overwhelming evidence

Only topics for which overwhelming and certain factual evidence exists, with public, peer-reviewed sources, are in scope.

I suppose this would get tricky with issues like, say, abortion, for which good evidence exists but there is also a good dose of opinion; these sorts of arguments can easily become just trying to convince. I think the key is

I think questions like are distinctly off-topic.

Not to manipulate people, only to present them with the best evidence available in the most concise and convincing manner to make their own accurately-informed opinions.


Privacy and anonymity

these might be breaching intimate discussions between family members. In every case must be anonymized; . Check the consent rules in your region.


For directly-copied replies, it should perhaps be made clear that what you’re replying with is not your own words (otherwise, searching for your words might return hundreds of exact matches, very suspicious). Something like:

Bob: This chain email says lemons give you cancer!

Alice: Here’s what I found: “A chain email from James Taylor on lemon cancer relies on a paper by []. This paper contradicts previous results by [], [], [] that say that lemons don’t give you cancer.”