Signs of Nonsense
Here are 8 tell-tale signs of Pseudoscience, Conspiracy Theories, False Advertising, and Propaganda. Find examples of these in the real world; or create disinformation or a fake product using these techniques.

1. Unfalsifiable

No evidence can ever disprove their arguments:

If they have no supporting evidence, that’s because “they” “silenced” and “censored” those who know the “truth”.
Any contradictory evidence is “fake news”, a “false flag” operation, or it’s not a “true” example, which you would know if you “do your own research”.
If experts disagree, that’s because they’re “biased”, “paid off”, or have a “conflict of interest”.
If you don’t see it, that’s because you’re in “denial”, “brainwashed”, “blind”, or unqualified. (e.g. People with great taste know this is great art; people who disagree have bad taste and don’t know good art.)
If any of their evidence is disproven, that doesn’t change anything because there’s still more supporting evidence not discovered yet.
Safety evidence is never good enough. No matter how many years and millions of cases have been tested, they say it’s still not enough to be sure. (e.g. vaccines, power lines causing cancer)
Claims are based on supernatural/cosmic/life “energy”, spirits or demons, which cannot be observed or measured by science.
If their results are inconsistent, that’s because invisible factors change unpredictably. (e.g. why you’re told a different fortune each time)
All results always support the same conclusion. (e.g. If you have my wallet, that proves you stole it. If you don’t have my wallet, that proves you hid it.)

Ask them, “What evidence would you need to see to change your mind?”

2. Absolute Certainty

They say nothing will change their mind.
They never change their mind even when new evidence is presented.
They mock people who change their mind, like if you were wrong once then you’re always wrong.
They admire leaders who have all the answers, and they distrust people who say we don’t have all the answers yet.
They distrust people who admit when they’re wrong, and they admire people who are supposedly never wrong.
They see no need for their claims to be peer reviewed or verified because they already know they’re true.
As a last resort, if they cannot prove they’re right, they say, “I’m entitled to my opinion.”

3. Implausible

No explanation given for how something works, or it defies all known science.
Miracle solution/cure solves so many problems with no drawbacks (too good to be true).
So many conspirators must keep a secret without a single leak.
Rivals must collaborate with total cooperation. (e.g. competing corporations, opposing political parties, independent countries)
Their opponents are too stupid to be competent, but also incredibly smart to orchestrate such an elaborate plot.
The motive and end-goal for their opponent’s evil plan is not explained, or they give many inconsistent theories.
There are easier ways to achieve the same goal without such an elaborate plot.

4. Evil Villains

Cartoonishly evil villains are willing to harm others with no remorse.
Everyone follows orders without a single conscientious person refusing or whistleblowing.
Scientists are willing to suppress science and discovery just to get “funding”.
Politicians are plotting to destroy their own country, or at least destroy everyone who’s not in their political party.

5. Fringe Minority

They believe fringe minority opinions and reject the majority expert consensus.
They believe only a small, special group are “enlightened” enough to see the “truth”.
They brag about being “free, independent thinkers”.
They mock the “gullible sheep” who “blindly conform” to the majority, sheeple who need to “wake up” and “do your own research”.
They reject “mainstream” “fake news” and scientific “dogmatism”.

6. Anecdotes & Cherry Picking

Their evidence is mostly personal experience, rumors, hearsay, and testimonial.
They say all contradictory evidence is “wrong” or “fake”.
They select only the sources and evidence that supports their view.
Their statistics and scientific data are taken out of context (e.g. no base-rate comparison; or they claim a substance is always deadly when it’s only deadly in huge doses; or they claim touching a substance is dangerous when it’s only dangerous if swallowed)

7. Gibberish & Technobabble

Their claims use made-up or vague words, or science words used incorrectly, like:

“Toxins” that are not named
“Energy” that is unknown to science
“Natural” not “Artificial”, even though everything is made from ingredients in nature, just some take more steps
“No chemicals” even though everything is made of chemicals
“Hydrates” and “oxygenates” your “immune system” to eliminate “free radicals”, increase “energy levels”, and “boost metabolism” — science word salad
“Holistic” is vague with no specific criteria
“Proven” by whom? how?
“They” the unnamed enemy
“May” help/hurt, instead of “does” or “shown to”
“Micro-evolution” & “macro-evolution” are made up terms, not scientific
“Just a Theory”, without knowing what “theory” means

8. Logical Fallacies

Common logical fallacies used to defend pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, false advertising, and propaganda:

Post Hoc — Confusing coincidence or correlation with causation.
Appeal to Tradition — “Old Fashioned”, “Original”, “Traditional”, “Practiced for Centuries”, “Ancient Wisdom”, “Founding Fathers”
Appeal to Nature — “All Natural”, “Made with Real xxx”, “Farm Fresh”, “Harvest Bounty”, “Homemade”, “Home Style”. (These phrases are not strictly regulated.)
Appeal to Fear — “Toxins”, “Chemicals”, “Destroying our way of life”, “Taking over our country”
Appeal to Anger — Rabble-rousing: Pretending to be outraged over minor disagreements.
Appeal to Pity — Playing the victim: Pretending they are the real victim when accused of victimizing others.
False Equivalence — Treating the minority opinion as equal to the majority consensus. Saying anything bad is like Nazis, Hitler, Communism, etc.
Cherry Picking — Selecting only the data and anecdotes that support their view, ignoring the rest.
Appeal to False Authority — Using testimonial of unqualified people as expert opinions.
Straw Man — Misrepresenting the opposing viewpoint to make it sound absurd and extreme.
Red Herring — Changing the topic when cornered.
Tu Quoque — Instead of responding to criticism of their own flaws, they change the topic to your flaws.
Slippery Slope — Pretending the opposing proposal will lead to catastrophic disaster.
Black or White — Assuming you either agree with their solution, or you oppose their whole goal. (People can share a common goal but disagree on the best solution.)
Appeal to Common Sense — Assuming if something is not intuitive and easy to understand, then it must be wrong.
Nirvana Fallacy — Rejecting any solution that is not perfect. (e.g. Vaccines don’t give 100% protection, so why bother.)
Moving the Goalposts — When evidence disproves them, they make up new criteria so the evidence doesn’t matter.
Proof by Assertion — Repeating talking points over and over till people just believe it because it sounds familiar.
Argument from Ignorance, Shifting the Burden of Proof — You cannot prove a negative, like proving the supernatural does not exist, or a secret cabal does not exist, or undetected fraud did not happen, so they argue it must be true.
Ad Hominem — Irrelevant arguments about their opponent’s character or past, or accusing them of ulterior motives and conflicts of interest.
Bandwagon Fallacy — Claiming their view is true because others believe it.

More about logical fallacies at: