Yesterday the Hoaxtead Research account was blocked on Twitter.
That’s not all that unusual: it’s happened several times over the past few weeks, mostly right after we’ve made a particularly hard-to-refute point.
The most recent HR-blocker was Jim McMenamin, a true believer who nearly chucked it all over back in September, but then had a change of heart and charged back into the fray. He’s been playing a bit fast and loose with the truth lately, as we mentioned the other day, and a few Hoaxtead mythbusters were on his case about it: (‘Mr A’ and ‘Mr S’ are a reference to Mr Angry and Mr Sad, mentioned in that recent Hoaxtead Research post.)
(Jim is referring to Christine Ann Sands’ video recording from inside the church last spring, in which she alleges to have ‘witnessed’ babies being slaughtered.)
Right after this exchange, Jim blocked both Lucy and El Coyote, along with anyone else who might threaten his version of the ‘truth’. Dare we suppose that our pointed questions might have threatened his close-held belief in the hoax, to the point where he felt he had to shut them down completely?
Interestingly, another participant in that conversation kept the doors open:
This person, @manatrue, states she ‘just wanted to forget the emotions’ she wasted on this case. It turns out she’d been a believer at the beginning, but ‘the penny dropped’ and she and a group she was involved with were forced to the painful realisation that they’d been duped.
This raises an important point for many of those who still believe: letting go of their belief at this point, after some of them have devoted nearly a year to promoting it, will be an emotionally painful choice.
One reason is linked to something called the ‘fallacy of sunk costs’. It’s defined on the website Logically Fallacious as “Reasoning that further investment is warranted on the fact that the resources already invested will be lost otherwise, not taking into consideration the overall losses involved in the further investment”.
More simply put, it’s the human tendency to continue to make bad investments, based on the fear that otherwise one will lose what has already been invested.
This is true, of course. The energy, time, and emotions that many True Believers have already invested will never be returned to them. But ultimately, it’s irrelevant: once it’s clear that the hoax has no future, the fact that so much has already been invested is a really bad reason to cling to it.
What happens to True Believers once they reach the point where they can no longer believe?
We’ve heard so many stories: some become enraged at having been duped, and dedicate themselves to exposing the fraud. Others walk away in disappointment, and try to forget the whole thing. Some feel shame and humiliation at having been taken in. Most feel a sense of loss.
So when Jim blocked us, was it really because he thought we’d ‘muddy the waters’? Or was it because he was afraid he might be ‘dragged under’ and forced to confront the truth if he continued to engage with us?