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Do your own research

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"Do your own research!" is a common phrase used by conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience promoters of various creeds in response to people who are skeptical of their claims. This phrase is a form of the escape hatch (Argumentum ad googlam) used by a charlatan who wants to win the argument but does not want to bear the burden of proof. Typically by this, they tend not to be suggesting you actually read through papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals—nah, they're evil, big government shills—nor are they suggesting you conduct original research; Professor Google provides all the info needed. Some specify YouTube is the key to all your "research" (Argumentum ad YouTube).

If you must have recourse to some actual books (how elitist!), stick with the likes of Kevin Trudeau and Alex Jones. It should also be noted that many "research" websites are merely copied from each other, making finding true "original" sources very difficult. Ultimately, the "argument" boils down to "do your own research, from my list of self-approved sources."

Ironically, conducting actual, thorough research from vetted and reliable sources is the best way to debunk conspiracy theories; this goes largely unnoticed by their advocates. It's commonly used when evidence is debunked too, as some people aren't mature enough to admit that they're wrong.[1]

Use in civil rights movements[edit]

Some activists in the modern social justice movement do take up this line of reasoning, usually in the form of "Educate yourself" or "It isn't my job to educate you."[2] Discounting the cases where it actually is quite literally one's job to educate people (for example, being a paid or volunteer activist), it should be noted that there are contextual differences between a conspiracy theorist/pseudoscientist/etc. using this and a member of a marginalized group doing the same. While this isn't an ideal response -- Pariser's Filter BubbleWikipedia's W.svg posing a clear potential issue for self-research -- there are reasonable justifications for this. For instance, detailing the effects of marginalization may involve the telling of very personal or painful memories or experiences that someone may be very uncomfortable expressing to someone who is a complete stranger, much less several. Such elements aren't as often seen in the realms of conspiracy theories.

The way the internet allows for massive bombardments, such as when social media postings go viral or get brigaded, complicates matters even further; someone who might have time and willingness to discuss questions from a few close people may not have the physical or mental energy, free time, or patience to deliver personal tuition to every single one of the hundred and fifty people suddenly interrogating them in their Twitter mentions. However, this can cut both ways: someone who has allegedly said something politically incorrect but is repeatedly told "it's not my job to educate you" by critics when he or she asks what exactly they are supposed to have done wrong and how they could have expressed themselves in a better way, is not going to develop a positive impression of the social justice movement.

Of course, this all assumes the asker is asking in good faith, rather than not.

See also[edit]

References[edit]