Evaluating the Quality of A Claim

Steven Hassan posted the following to one of his websites on December 18, 2019, to wit:

“Trump, the Republican Party and the right-wing media industrial complex are manipulating the public. They are employing the same techniques advertisers and public relations professionals use but have done so in an even more potent way.

They harness fear. They repeat messages over and over again. They disorient with conflicting messages. They wage war on detractors.

We somehow think that “mind control” and “brainwashing” only exist in Hollywood movies but they are very REAL phenomena and through the relatively new medium of the internet, we are seeing mind control like we’ve never seen in human history.

The only remedy is knowledge. We need to educate ourselves so we can educate others. If you want to understand more, let me know.” (Hassan, 2019.)

Hassan has me blocked from commenting on any of his sites or pages, exemplifying information control. I certainly disdain Trump, but he’s not a cult leader.

My response to his “position” and claims are:

Use a few of rules of thumb to evaluate the quality of a claim:

1. Anecdotal claims are not particularly reliable.

2. Statistical claims _require_ statistical evidence.

3. Claims that provide no mechanism to permit falsification are unreliable and useless.

4. If a proponent has not at least attempted to falsify their claim (in good faith), then it’s at best unreliable and at worst propaganda.

5. Peer review is good; peer review by domain experts is better.( Summary credit to F. Waid, 2019.)

ABOUT DR.MANN: Cathleen Mann, Ph.D., has consulted in about a hundred cases involving cults, undue influence, psychological influence, and related areas. Qualified by a court of law as an expert in 16 states, she has provided sworn testimony in about 40 legal cases. She does counseling, evaluations, investigations, supervision, and consulting. ​
 Dr. Mann has a Ph.D. in psychology and has held a counseling license in Colorado since 1994. 

Court qualified as an expert in the area of high demand groups (cults) and family, child custody, and individual issues.  Dr. Mann has evaluated children in person who has been associated with questionable groups, testified in open court, provided sworn statements, prepared expert reports, and/or testified in depositions in 16 states. All inquiries:  cathleenmann@gmail.com