YANSS 273 – How to test just how much you (and your friends and family) do (or do not) believe in a variety of conspiracy theories

In this episode Jesse Richardson tells us all about ConspiracyTest.org, a new project designed to be a weird, fun, and cleverly educational way to explore just how skeptical you are (and could be) about a variety of conspiracy theories. The whole thing is designed to be very sharable and very viral, and it’s launching right before Thanksgiving 2023 so that you can share it with your conspiracy-theory-entertaining friends and family over the holidays, in person or over social media (but you should definitely try it out on yourself first).

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The Conspiracy Test is a gamified interactive platform to help increase healthy skepticism for conspiracy theories.

Users can select a theory they think might be true then set a baseline of skepticism and challenge themselves through a series of self-directed steps to increase their Critical Thinking Score

Features include:

  • Fostering probabilistic thinking by using a percentage scale
  • A gamified Critical Thinking Score which rewards increased skepticism
  • Instead of attacking beliefs, giving people agency to conduct their own ‘critical thinking investigation’ 
  • A thoughtful focus on user experience and user interface design
  • An iterative approach which split-tests different ways to increase skepticism and belief mobility so as to improve the platform, and outcomes, over time
  • A formal research study which will seek to empirically validate the findings such that they can be used by other platforms and media channels to increase informational integrity, as well as decrease the effectiveness of disinformation campaigns

Initial results indicate a significant effect with participants increasing their average skepticism for conspiracy theories by 30%

Unfettered conspiracy thinking can lead to dangerously extremist beliefs and actions, increase political polarization, and give cover to actual conspiracies.

This project aims to learn and implement what works best to increase healthy skepticism and mitigate uncritical conspiracy thinking.

We aim to test and demonstrate effectiveness such that these learnings can be implemented at scale on other platforms and channels.

The School of Thought’s mission more broadly is to help us question all schools of thought by popularizing critical thinking, reason, and understanding.

The Conspiracy Test is an initiative of the School of Thought, a 501c3 non profit organization, in collaboration with the University of Queensland’s Critical Thinking Project.

It was funded through The School of Thought’s own merchandise sales (also available as free Creative Commons downloads) and philanthropic donations from Gabriel Weinberg from DuckDuckGo, and Pskydin, Founder of Metal Warrior. It has not received funding from any governments, pharmaceutical companies, nor deepstate illuminati alien lizards.

Jesse Richardson is an internationally award-winning advertising creative director, and the founder of The School of Thought International.

Years ago, he decided to apply what he knew about design and advertising to create an online school providing free creative and critical thinking resources in an attempt to answer: What if we made learning how to think truly fun and engaging?

Those resources have reached an estimated 30 million students, teachers, parents, leaders, managers and everyday people around the world in more than 7 languages

Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes


School of Thought

The Conspiracy Test


How Minds Change

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Jesse Richardson’s Twitter

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