Snow Queen: Bear in mind that sometimes there is no evidence, as the evidence may have been destroyed or hidden so well that no-one has discovered it. Key witnesses may have been silenced, bought off or killed. Where this is the case, it comes down to using your intellect and your critical thinking skills to draw logical conclusions based on what evidence does exist and what can reasonably be deduced.
My response: In the absence of direct evidence, Occam's razor rules. This rules out that there was a conspiracy to destroy the trail. Sometimes the trail is simply gone and we will never know. We understand this in the wilderness. Today we might see fresh cougar tracks. A good rain, and the evidence is gone and we will never know.
The best strategy is to be vigilant about protecting civil and privacy rights. That keeps anyone from abusing power.
Nambo: Reading books, we have no other option as we where (sic) not there, but these books do quote from material heald in archievs of the time. What do you mean by "critical thinking skills"?, I would have thought the very term would have backed up our side of the discussion, the ability to not just belive whet some with an agenda tell us, but to seek out alternative views and see if they fit in with the pattern of the world. Perhaps you could give some examples of what you mean?
Use some healthy skepticism to weigh the evidence, the integrity of the author. Apply Occam's razor. Are you offered the simplest explanation? How long ago did the event happen? No matter how good the research, the farther they are from the event, the less trustworthy the evidence. This is why there is a "statute of limitations" on bringing matters to trial. Even direct witnesses become less reliable...not due to conspiracy interference but simply because their memory is faulty.
When I read a book with some weighty thoughts, I argue with the author in my head as I read. "Yes but what about this?" I confirm that the author has covered all angles. I argued with Henry David Thoreau throughout, but he demolished my arguments every one. I have deep admiration for his conclusions, therefore.
There is manipulative language that I look for that immediatly puts me on red alert. An example is if the author claims that their story is true but they must hide the truth behind fiction. A prime example of this is the Da Vinci Code. Fiction. But because the author inserted this little phrase, "truth" in the introduction, there are people who will then be sucked in to the intriguing tale, masterfully woven and internally consistent. But it's not. True.
Another strategy is to warn the reader to expect resistance from family and friends to your new-found knowledge and transformation. The WTS uses this to good effect. The materials predict resistance from family and friends, and sure enough, they do! The book was right! It must be right about other things too. The reader forgets that the simplest explanation is that the new-found "knowlege" and "transformation" is alarming, and that family and friends really do have the reader's best interests at heart. I have put down books never to pick up again as soon as I come across this warning.
The third is to hint at a well-hidden conspiracy by a mysterious, shadow group. How does a reasonable person dismiss the existence of a secret group? One can't disprove a negative. It's like boxing air. There is a certain attraction to believing that there is some order to man's affairs; that the ups and downs of the economy are masterfully controlled. The alternative, that we have no more control than we do over the weather, is rather....lonely. I've noticed also that detractors to the whole conspiracy thing are dismissed as naive. Rather too neat, don't you think?
So I admit, the very whiff of conspiracy has my hackles up. It eludes critical review.