The short answer is: the frequently false should be treated as entirely false. If you have to use a ton of time trying to find the truth in the haystack, then in the process of trying to find it, you are most likely to get soaked in conspiratorial, factless dribble. Move on.
The problem with the huge amount of propaganda we are exposed to daily is that there is very little time to judge its veracity. Here is a short list of red flags that can help to identify when it is time to stop wasting your time.
- The person telling you has some special knowledge no one else has. Free energy, long life, cures for the incurable, secret government documents, a history of government harassment. These things are easy to verify, so if they are not verified, assume they are bullsh*t.
- The claim involves giant institutions. These claims include the involvement of entities like the government, the media, the scientific establishment, the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry. As soon as these words are uttered, your BS meter should start screaming.
- The claim involves conspiracies. Remember the adage: the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. The more people who need to know, the less likely it is that the only evidence of the claim is the word of the dingleberry telling you about it.
- The proof is proprietary. Sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it.
- All the evidence is suggestive and circumstantial. These people are sharing it with you because they want attention for their outstanding ability to see patterns where they do not exist. Their suspicions are way bigger than the facts. It makes a good movie, but crappy reality.
For some reason we all want to be privy to some unexpected and terrible truth about the world. It is tempting to think that all of that circumstantial, unverified evidence I am given will somehow give me a glimpse into the world the way it really is, but in fact, the vast majority of the time, it only gives me a glimpse into my own need to feel special.