The article uses a lot of "highfalutin" words to make many of the same observations I've been making about conspiracy theorists and True Believers for 11 years.
What I call "arguing beliefs against facts," they call "crippled epistemology."
What I call "illogical reasoning," they call "identifiable cognitive blunders."
And Sunstein and Vermeule use the term "degenerating research program," which just means using a bad hypothesis that requires that supporters constantly have to rationalize and explain away more and more evidence which shows their hypothesis is wrong. (A "progressive research program" is an hypothesis which new evidence tends to confirm.)
However, while I agree with Sunstein and Vermeule on many observations, I tend to disagree with them on others. Clearly they include among the "conspiracy theorists" many people who just think the government is incompetent, and that's why the government's "official explanation" doesn't explain what really happened. Such people have no conspiracy theory, therefore they cannot be labeled as "conspiracy theorists." They are "True Believers" who have the unshakable belief that they know "the truth" and the rest of the world doesn't.
Sunstein and Vermeule also seem to fail to recognize that each Truther (conspiracy theorists and True Believers) has his own unique theory, whether they be Anthrax Truthers, 9/11 Truthers, Moon Landing Truthers, Climate Change Truthers or any other kind of Truther. The only thing that makes them a "group" is the fact that they all believe the official version is wrong. They seem to either believe everyone will see that they are right if they can just convince the world that the government is wrong, or they believe that the first goal is to convince everyone that the government is wrong, and then they can all sort out who is right.
Furthermore, Anthrax Truthers often think that 9/11 Truthers are nuts, and vice versa. 9/11 Truthers often think that Moon Landing Truthers are nuts, and vice versa. Climate Change Truthers often think that Anthrax Truthers are nuts, and vice versa. So, there's not only disagreement within each group of Truthers, they also often disagree with each other on a group level.
Sunstein and Vermeule fail to make that a key point. I see it as THE key point.
My next chore is to learn more about epistemology. As I understand it,
However, if you don't believe a thing, you cannot know that thing. Therefore knowledge also requires belief.
But, belief is not knowledge. Therefore, knowledge also requires justification.
Justification assures that a belief is not just a wild guess.
So, truth, belief and justification are together necessary to have knowledge.
But how do you convince True Believers that the false propositions they believe in so thoroughly are false because they are contradicted by an abundance of verifiable evidence, when True Believers seem to believe that no evidence is really evidence unless by itself it is undeniable proof? And, they can provide no such evidence (or even any meaningful evidence) to verify their own beliefs.