New Scientist has an interesting article by Patrick Leman on the psychology of believing in conspiracy theories.

Belief in conspiracy theories certainly seems to be on the rise, and what little research has been done investigating this question confirms this is so for perhaps the most famous example of all – the claim that a conspiracy lay behind the assassination of JFK in 1963. A survey in 1968 found that about two-thirds of Americans believed the conspiracy theory, while by 1990 that proportion had risen to nine-tenths.

One factor fuelling the general growth of conspiracy beliefs is likely to be that the internet allows new theories to be quickly created, and endlessly debated by a wider audience than ever. A conspiracy-based website built around the death of Princess Diana, for example, sprang up within hours of the car crash that killed her in 1997.

Well that sounds about right but then he makes a twisted turn in logic.

So what has been the impact of the growing conspiracy culture? Conspiracy theories can have a valuable role in society. We need people to think “outside the box”, even if there is usually more sense to be found inside the box.

That sounds like an admirable goal, but how does thinking outside the box correspond to “belief” in conspiracy theories? It’s one thing to consider them, to propose hypotheticals and then investigate until they are undermined, but how can one compare thinking outside the box to rabid belief in the unbelievable? I also don’t agree in his example of a conspiracy that turned out to be true.

Take the Iran-Contra affair, a massive political scandal of the late 1980s. When claims first surfaced that the US government had sold arms to its enemy Iran to raise funds for pro-American rebel forces in Nicaragua and to help secure the release of US hostages taken by Iran, it certainly sounded like yet another convoluted conspiracy theory. Several question marks remain over the affair, but President Ronald Reagan admitted that his administration had indeed sold arms to Iran.

This is again a mistake. It’s the conflation of a criminal conspiracy with a conspiracy theory. They are different. There is no doubt people conspire to break the law. The difference between the Iran Contra conspiracy and say, no-plane 9/11 conspiracies lies in the fact that there is actual real verifiable evidence of the former. People realized that something was going on when drug runners arrested in Florida were saying that they were running guns at the behest of the National Security Council. Now, that’s interesting. The trail was followed and it led to more and more drug traffickers, arms dealers and eventually to the Columbians, Manuel Noriega and even the middle-east. There wasn’t some countervailing theory that explained all these bits and pieces. And each time a piece of evidence uncovered it was consistent with an overall picture of criminal activity on the part of Oliver North and the Reagan administration.

A criminal conspiracy has little or nothing to do with a conspiracy theory, which is an entirely different beast. Conspiracy theorists are seeking to prove something they want to believe. Instead of scientifically following a stream of facts to a rational conclusion they collect bits and pieces and oddments, not to synthesize a robust alternative explanation, but more to crap on an official version or more cohesive theories. The fact that their interpretation of events, evidence, and testimony leads to more and more dubious explanations for the data, and impossible situations is unimportant. Contrary to Leman’s assertion, this type of thinking is completely contrary to what makes good scientific, and probably journalistic investigation. 9/11 conspiracy thinking is typical of this, and rather than going into it here – and dammit I mean it – check out Bronze Dog’s “Twoof is Wewative” coverage of recent crank arguments here. He sums it up nicely. These explanations rely on dubious facts and interpretation of events, and increase in complexity the explanation for how the towers fell or the Pentagon was hit astronomically. All of a sudden, rather than a reasonable explanation – planes hitting buildings, buildings catch fire, buildings fall, you have a range of theories from the hilariously absurd (holographic projection), to pointlessly complex (planned demolition). Anyway, Bronze Dog covers it there, go argue with him if you’re a twoofer, it’s not the point of this thread.

Back to Leman’s essay, as he gets back on the right track.

On the other hand, there is a dangerous side to conspiracy theories. During the cold war, they arguably played a part in sowing mistrust between east and west. For canny politicians or campaigners, conspiracy theories can be a good way of exploiting people’s fears by promulgating rumours that are difficult, if not impossible, to disprove.

Such beliefs can have a far-reaching impact on people’s lives. For example, over 20 per cent of African Americans believe that HIV was created in a laboratory and disseminated by the US government in order to restrict the growth of the black population, according to a series of studies by Sheryl Bird at Oregon State University and Laura Bogart at Kent State University in Ohio. The people who believe this theory also tend to be more sceptical of government health messages that condoms can stop HIV transmission. These are chilling findings, especially considering that although African Americans constitute only 12 per cent of the US population, they account for nearly half of the nation’s AIDS cases.

He also touches on some crank magnetism issues:

Unfortunately there has been little research carried out into what kind of events trigger conspiracy theories, who tends to believe them, and why. We do know, however, that people who believe in one theory are more likely to believe in others: there is a good chance that someone who believes the moon landings were faked will also believe that JFK was killed by a second gunman from the infamous grassy knoll.

Finally, an interesting argument for the source of conspiratorial tendencies (you’ll like this Ted)

Age is not the only demographic to influence conspiracy beliefs. Several US studies have found that ethnic minorities – particularly African and Hispanic Americans – are far more believing of conspiracy theories than white Americans. In our recent UK study, we found a similar race effect, coupled with an even stronger association between income and belief levels. People who describe themselves as “hard up” are more likely to believe in conspiracies than those with average income levels, while the least likely to believe are the well off.

How can we account for the link between race, income level and conspiracy theories? Theorists tend to show higher levels of anomie – a general disaffection or disempowerment from society. Perhaps this is the underlying factor that predisposes people more distant from centres of power – whether they be poorer people or those from ethnic minorities – to believe in conspiracies.

Essentially, societal disempowerment increases the probability of belief. One could read this two ways. First, that disempowerment leads to coping mechanisms to protect one’s ego. You’re not poor and powerless because you are unintelligent, or are lazy, or some other simple explanation. It’s because the man is keeping you down. The system is against you. A perceived enemy at odds with you is easier to face than one’s own defects.

A second explanation – that the wealthy and elite are no more rational than the disempowered, but because of their status, they have no desire to rock the boat.

Leman then goes on to discuss an experiment to show how conspiracy theories find root in people’s imaginations, as well as possibly developing a third explanation for why people believe:

So what kind of thought processes contribute to belief in conspiracy theories? A study I carried out in 2002 explored a way of thinking sometimes called “major event – major cause” reasoning. Essentially, people often assume that an event with substantial, significant or wide-ranging consequences is likely to have been caused by something substantial, significant or wide-ranging.

I gave volunteers variations of a newspaper story describing an assassination attempt on a fictitious president. Those who were given the version where the president died were significantly more likely to attribute the event to a conspiracy than those who read the one where the president survived, even though all other aspects of the story were equivalent.

To appreciate why this form of reasoning is seductive, consider the alternative: major events having minor or mundane causes – for example, the assassination of a president by a single, possibly mentally unstable, gunman, or the death of a princess because of a drunk driver. This presents us with a rather chaotic and unpredictable relationship between cause and effect. Instability makes most of us uncomfortable; we prefer to imagine we live in a predictable, safe world, so in a strange way, some conspiracy theories offer us accounts of events that allow us to retain a sense of safety and predictability.

Another intriguing hypothesis. For the disempowered conspiracy theories might provide a more rational and predictable world, yet another coping-mechanism, but not based as much on personal failing as what he ascribes to anomie.

Leman goes on to describe problems with conspiracy theorists and confirmation bias (surprise surprise) and how they ignore anything that contradicts their theory and only latch on to evidence consistent with their pre-formed worldview.

…conspiracy believers found new information to be more plausible if it was consistent with their beliefs. Moreover, believers considered that ambiguous or neutral information fitted better with the conspiracy explanation, while non-believers felt it fitted better with the non-conspiracy account. The same piece of evidence can be used by different people to support very different accounts of events.

This fits with the observation that conspiracy theories often mutate over time in light of new or contradicting evidence. So, for instance, if some new information appears to undermine a conspiracy theory, either the plot is changed to make it consistent with the new information, or the theorists question the legitimacy of the new information. Theorists often argue that those who present such information are themselves embroiled in the conspiracy. In fact, because of my research, I have been accused of being secretly in the pay of various western intelligence services (I promise, I haven’t seen a penny).

He also discusses how the anti-theorists are also susceptible to bias, and when engaged with the conspiracy theorists become similarly biased towards the evidence. While I’d like to see numbers showing a quantitative relationship between bias in the theorists vs anti-theorists (I suspect the conspiracy theorists are worse) this is not surprising. The more fundamental problem, beyond anomie, is unscientific thinking, and the tendency of people to just want to win arguments. People get emotionally invested in a factual position, and for or against, they’ll latch on to whatever they can so they don’t have to let go. The reason why I wish he gave numbers with this assertion is that it will inevitably lead to some parity nonsense, with the conspiracy theorists suggesting they and the theorists are on equal footing evidence-wise, and merely have different biases.

He ends with something a little bit like the crank HOWTO. It’s a conspiracy theory HOWTO, and it sounds kind of fun.

Pick your adversary

• A sense of anomie (dislocation from society and authority) fuels beliefs in conspiracy theories, so pick a big bad organisation of some sort – government or big business is ideal

• For added spice, identify a shadowy, secretive society with implied links to your adversary: the more shadowy, the better

Choose your event

• You’ll need a big, contemporary newsworthy event around which to weave your theory

• If it’s a sudden, shocking visual occurrence of international import it is more likely to become a “flashbulb memory” for the masses. Your key conspiracy audience, most able to create such vivid “indelible” memories will be between the ages of 20 and 35

Develop your story

• Construct your theory from carefully selected information that weaves together into a compelling story

• If something doesn’t fit, reinterpret it in line with your theory

• Create uncertainty: question existing evidence or find new evidence that contradicts the “official” account

Prepare your defence

• If someone highlights a gap or inconsistency in your evidence, don’t be afraid to tweak your story, but keep the core conspiracy in place

• You can allow the finer details of the theory to mutate, but always keep in mind the maxim – “they did it, I just have to find the proof that they did it”

• Broaden the circle of conspirators to include those who question your position… “they’re denying the truth – they must be involved too!”

Overall a very interesting article. I like the conspiracy HOWTO in particular. Especially given all the times I’ve been accused of just being a Republican, Democratic, pharmaceutical company, or grant-seeking shill.

Comments

  1. #1 Wes
    July 18, 2007

    I think that you and New Scientist must be in conspiracy to get me to pay $4.95 to read that article. ;)

  2. #2 Bronze Dog
    July 18, 2007

    Well, better start getting into a good mood, because I can already sense the nuts on their way through that link. Lot of nuts out there are both irritating and funny at the same time, though I’ve been feeling more of the former, lately.

    Here’s some links for you to preemptively improve my mood:
    Pointless Question #1 (For the comic book geeks, mostly)

    5# !fooW (For most anyone)

  3. #3 Ted
    July 18, 2007

    (I promise, I haven’t seen a penny).

    Well, DUH! It went by direct deposit.

    Essentially, societal disempowerment increases the probability of belief. One could read this two ways. First, that disempowerment leads to coping mechanisms to protect one’s ego. You’re not poor and powerless because you are unintelligent, or are lazy, or some other simple explanation. It’s because the man is keeping you down. The system is against you. A perceived enemy at odds with you is easier to face than one’s own defects.

    A second explanation – that the wealthy and elite are no more rational than the disempowered, but because of their status, they have no desire to rock the boat.

    I think you’re seriously close to going off the tracks here. I’m not understanding if your two explanations are and/or. Plus, you’re getting awful close to blaming the uninsured on their own stupidity and lack of awareness. My experience with downward spirals of poverty says otherwise.

    WRT proximity to centers of power, I have been surprisingly close to the centers of power (but mostly as manual labor), yet still I find conspiracies entertaining diversions because the tendency to classify crap at random makes people wonder (WTF-over?). When the world’s f*ckupedness is ALL about incompetence, the POV is much more boring than when constructing your own personal action adventure ala Jerry Fletcher.

    There’s a lot of non-intuitive stuff out there that makes people’s head turn because it seems to fly in the face of common sense so they conclude that common sense and logic have been tossed and cahoots are in order. My example:

    We spend about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. How does an enemy approach that disparity strategically? One answer: Through asymmetric use of force. Huh? You mean poor people respond to overtechnology with under-technology? Can we win against an asymmetric foe that’s battling you with his fingernails by throwing more money at technology weapons? If not, why keep shoveling it to crony corporations?

    Ergo, this strategy must be part of a conspiracy to rob the treasury through the front doors in broad daylight. What else explains it? Incompetence? There’s 300M people watching this go down in real time; I don’t buy incompetence on that scale; someone would have noted the similarity to the Laffer curve.

  4. #4 Martn Pereyra
    July 18, 2007

    How can we account for the link between race, income level and conspiracy theories? Theorists tend to show higher levels of anomie […}

    Third explanation: you are poor and disconnected, so you don’t have access to education and trustworthy information, you cannot develop a rigorous, scientific way of thinking or a stock of general information for checking facts, and, ultimately, you believe the first load of BS you receive, because you cannot detect it.

    And I agree with the “out-of-the-box thinking” argument, provided that you can go back inside the box when it’s obvious that there’s nothing outside. Something that conspiracy theorists can’t do, apparently.

  5. #5 Alex Constantine
    July 18, 2007

    Dr. Patrick Leman, New Scientist’s Debunker of Conspiracy Theories, and the NAZI History of the Nuffield Foundation, which Funds Dr. Leman

    By Alex Constantine

    Under the Hitler regime, all Good Germans ridiculed “atrocity stories.”
    Under the Bush regime, all Good American ridicule “conspiracy theories.”
    It’s the same phenomenon … and it’s driven by propagandists …

    Speaking of the Devil, Dr. Patrick Leman (left) was granted at least one grant from a foundation in the UK founded by a ranking member of the BRITISH UNION of FASCISTS charged by authorities in the UK with sedition.

    Bear in mind that fascism is inherently conspiratorial … any arguments on that point? Of course not. Then we’ll forge ahead here. The connections are ironic, to say the least …

    CONTENTS

    1.) British psychologist Patrick Leman explains “the lure of conspiracy theory” – an approach that assumes all conspiracy theories are fiction, that there are psychological reason for believing in a “conspiracy theory,” a pathology. But fascism is by nature conspiratorial – thus, any “theory” involving a fascist conspiracy must also be fiction. This is, I believe, what Dr. Leman – a CHILD psychologist – wants us to believe in the end.

    2.) Patrick Leman (Psychology) has been awarded £5,995 by the Nuffield Foundation, the largest charitable trust in the UK. The Nuffield Foundation was founded by NAZI COLLABORATOR William Morris, proprietor of Morris Motors, who conspired with the German regime against his own country.

    The grant was for a study of ETHNICITY.

    3.) About the Nuffield Foundation.

    4.) William Morris, the Viscount of Nuffield, founder of the charitable trust, was a ranking member of the BRITISH UNION OF FACSISTS.

    5.) There are fascists at the very Oxford school that employs Dr. Leman.

    6.) A study funded by the Nuffield Foundation on “The Rise of Fascism.” This appears to be a whitewash.
    —————-
    1.) The lure of the conspiracy theory
    11 July 2007
    Patrick Leman
    Magazine issue 2612

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg19526121.300-the-lure-of-the-conspiracy-theory.html

    ” … Belief in conspiracy theories certainly seems to be on the rise, and what little research has been done investigating this question confirms this is so for perhaps the most famous example of all – the claim that a conspiracy lay behind the assassination of JFK in 1963. A survey in 1968 found that about two-thirds of Americans believed the conspiracy theory, while by 1990 that proportion had risen to nine-tenths.

    One factor fuelling the general growth of conspiracy beliefs is likely to be that the internet allows new theories to be quickly created, and endlessly debated by a wider audience than ever. A conspiracy-based website built around the death of Princess Diana, for example, sprang up within hours of the car crash that killed her in 1997. … ”
    ————————-
    2.) Patrick Leman (Psychology) has been awarded £5,995 by the Nuffield Foundation to Grants research a project entitled: “How does ethnicity influence children’s conversations with their peers?”
    http://www.gold.ac.uk/hallmark/research/pdf/rhm12.pdf
    —————————
    http://www.camelotintl.com/365_days/february.html
    1943: The Nuffield Foundation was established by Lord Nuffield (William Morris, the English motor car manufacturer) and became Britain’s biggest charitable trust.
    ———————-
    3.) Introduction

    About the Foundation
    http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/go/aboutus/page_139.html

    The Nuffield Foundation is one of the UK’s best known charitable trusts which was established in 1943 by William Morris (Lord Nuffield), the founder of Morris Motors.
    ———————-
    4.) http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-Diener-Oxford-1930.html

    Alcoholics Anonymous and the Oxford Group at Oxford in the 1930s
    by Paul Diener, Ph.D.

    In 1931, the leading British fascist, Sir Oswald Mosley, was organizing what he at first called the ‘New Party’. This would later evolve into the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Mosley himself remarked: “. . . the young men who are gathering around us are Oxford students and graduates.”

    Strong support, for both Mosley and Buchman, came from William Morris, Chairman of the Oxford Conservative Association, and founder of Oxford’s largest employer, the Morris Motors auto factory. As in Akron, ‘spirituality’ was seen as an antidote to the union movement’s ‘materialism’, its emphasis on bread-and-butter issues.

    By the 1930s, the BUF was recruiting heavily at Oxford, and had formed the University Fascist Association. An opposed group, supportive of a ‘materialistic’ approach to social problems, arose in the town of Oxford, at the independent, trade-union sponsored college, Ruskin. These ‘materialists’ called themselves the ‘Red Shirts’, as opposed to Mosley and his ‘spiritual’ Black Shirts at elitist Oxford University.
    ———————-
    5.) Antisemitism Alert
    http://zioneocon.blogspot.com/archives/2003_06_22_zioneocon_archive.html

    Israeli rejected by Oxford for being Israeli Jew

    Friends,

    Israeli Amit Duvshani applied to Oxford for a doctoral position. This is the reply that he received from Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield Professor of Pathology, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,The John Radcliffe, e-mail: awilkie@worf.molbiol.ox.ac.uk.

    I think that we should all, every one of us, send the good professor a message on his Facist tendencies and his disgusting Nazi-like tactics in dealing with Israelis (i.e. Jews, and don’t we all know where you are coming from Herr Professor).

    My own letter to Herr Professor is below.
    ———————-
    6.) September 2006 Curriculum Vitae Roberto Franzosi Address Emory …
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML

    University of Trento, project on The Rise of Italian Fascism: From the “Red Years”. to the “Black Years” (1919-22). Feb. 2005. Nuffield Foundation, project …

    http://www.sociology.emory.edu/cv/cv_rfranzosi.pdf

  6. #6 Brian
    July 18, 2007

    Interesting article and post.

    I think people are more likely to believe the official government story is a lie when that same government is caught lying again and again about other things (i don’t think we need to go into that…this administration has lied about lots).

    I guess the term “conspiracy theory” really has taken on a definition beyond its literal meaning? Isn’t the official story not a conspiracy theory…that is, some Saudis conspired and did it. I guess its only a conspiracy theory when non-government officials propose it? The “conspiring” part is that those who generate the official theory are lying.

    But, I still think its dangerous to have all theories that aren’t the “official” theory lumped together into one category that is immediately called ridiculous.

  7. #7 Bronze Dog
    July 18, 2007

    But, I still think its dangerous to have all theories that aren’t the “official” theory lumped together into one category that is immediately called ridiculous.

    What the government calls “official” is irrelevant. So far, all the evidence I’ve seen points to the simple one that the government correctly (for once) goes by. The government’s reputation isn’t a part of the skeptic’s thought process. We recognize that poisoning the well is a fallacy.

    The key drift from the literal meaning comes from the habit of these people to come up with elaborate, almost supernatural, world-spanning conspiracies for what could be explained by collective incompetence, or occasionally one person’s actions.

    In short, yes, the hijackers did for a conspiracy according to the theory. It doesn’t fit the archetype for the newer connotation of “conspiracy theory” since it doesn’t set up the entire world as being ‘in on it.’

    The various wild conspiracy hypotheses promoted by twoofers do fit the archetype of being wildly large and anti-parsimonious, and I usually attack them for being wildly large and anti-parsimonious.

  8. #8 Brian
    July 18, 2007

    “The various wild conspiracy hypotheses promoted by twoofers do fit the archetype of being wildly large and anti-parsimonious, and I usually attack them for being wildly large and anti-parsimonious.”

    Agreed. They should be scrutinized and attacked for the ridiculousness they spew.

    “The government’s reputation isn’t a part of the skeptic’s thought process.”

    Really? It seems to me that most (if not all) of the wildest theories preface their particular version with stories about past government lies (or theories about lying). As if to say…’see, they’ve done it before’

  9. #9 bigTom
    July 18, 2007

    Now that you’ve given us the formula, whats to stop the unethical from using the formula to construct the next bestseller with it. All it takes is a good story, ne that some percentage of the population can relate to -then sell the idea to Oprah…

  10. #10 Grackle
    July 18, 2007

    The term ‘conspiracy theory’ is a modern invention meant to smear cynics and skeptics, so that everyone so branded is equated as being the same, which puts the opponents of the Rovian Revolution on the same level as Hollow Earth people.

    Does no one remember what term it replaced? It was ‘intrigue’.

    It would now seem silly to brand the multi-billion dollar Big Tobacco assault on the evidence that tobacco was a health hazard as ‘conspiracy theory’, wouldn’t it? Yet back when people smoked on every TV show, there was a huge conspiracy, a huge plot, an actual industry of skullduggery, all run by Big Tobacco. This was decades-long intrigue on a huge scale.

    Yet the article’s author would be able to apply his formula to Big Tobacco and make it all look like a bunch of silly kooks were tilting at windmills for no good reason.

  11. #11 Joseph
    July 18, 2007

    “People who describe themselves as “hard up” are more likely to believe in conspiracies than those with average income levels, while the least likely to believe are the well off.”

    That is completely the opposite of my experience – as I perceive it – in the autism debates.

  12. #12 John Carter
    July 18, 2007

    Sigh!

    So when last did you try publish the minutes of your monday morning meeting on the web?

    What did your boss say?

    See what I mean? Conspiracies in the sense of “secretly arranging with others to do things for their mutual benefit” is an ubiquitous and daily activity.

    The problem arises, as it often does, where the benefit of one group is the detriment of another.

    The problem arises where either intentionally, or more usually incidentally, the very active pursuit of benefit slides (often unnoticed and unremarked at the time) into the illegal realm. And having done so, is continued from a belief that “We Are Right” and then covered up.

    The problem is everyone really is “conspiring” for their own benefit and often believe others are “conspiring” to their detriment.

    The history around the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was very informative.

    I heard, over the preceding years literally hundreds of “conspiracy theories”, wild, kooky, no evidence base, really stupid dumb conspiracy theories. Really, nobody could have been so bloodymindedly dumb stupid to do half of those things.

    In light of subsequent evidence presented (by the _perpetrators_ themselves) at the TRC I realized what was going on…

    * There was no evidence of wrong doing since all witnesses had been killed (disappeared) and the evidence actively destroyed. Thus expecting evidence to support a conspiracy theory is just plain stupid!

    * The persons charged by society with the duty of investigating criminal activity were among the perpetrators.

    * Some of the theories that I had previously dismissed as stupid way wild and wooly, nobody could possibly be that idiotic could they?

    It turned out, yes, people are that bloody idiotic. Yes, they do do stupidly dumb blindly vicious things for reasons of…
    – Stupidity.
    – Malice
    – Idealogy
    – Covering tracks
    – False flag operations.
    – Mistakes.
    – Drunk / drugged at the time.
    – Weird group mindset.
    – Demonizing other groups.

    * Media, Courts and Lawyers are much better at covering the truth than revealing it. Especially if the perpetrators are..
    – Rich
    – Part of the state / legal apparatus.

    the matter is usually as plain as the nose on your face before a fair court can make a fair judgement.

    * Never underestimate the stupidity of large groups of serious men acting in concert. Give a large group of smart determined men the authority to “solve” a problem, and before long they have…and have probably created one or two other bigger problems along the way.

    * Women are equally likely to be the victims as men, but 500 times less likely to be the perpetrators. Read that again. FIVE HUNDRED TIMES less likely to be the perpetrators.

    Am I saying all the Wild Kooky 9/11 conspiracy theorists are right?

    No.

    I’m saying no one has a clue.

    Those who do know have been killed.

    Those that actively did wrong are lying and destroying evidence.

    Incredibly vast sums of money have been spent in the aftermath skewing everything.

    A standard “psyop” tactic is “poisoning the wells”. Feed plausible bull-shit to anyone that seems to have a clue…

    So dissing the conspiracy nutters as nutters is wrong, swallowing the conspiracy theories whole is wrong…

    Gently accumulating, correlating, but distrusting all information and all sources, and keeping an open mind in all directions is Right.

  13. #13 Bronze Dog
    July 18, 2007

    I see one really nasty bit of circular logic:

    * There was no evidence of wrong doing since all witnesses had been killed (disappeared) and the evidence actively destroyed. Thus expecting evidence to support a conspiracy theory is just plain stupid!

    This presumes that people are capable of the god-like act of a perfect cover-up. I don’t think anyone in the administration is anywhere near that competent. They’re frikkin’ politicians, not Doctor Doom.

  14. #14 MarkH
    July 18, 2007

    Again I think people are getting confused between criminal conspiracies and the more wacky conspiracy theory that attempts to tie together wacky random facts into what Bronze Dog appropriately describes as non-parsimonious explanations.

    No one is saying that people don’t conspire to commit criminal acts. Nor does talking about the Mafia make one a conspiracy theorist because you’re talking about run of the mill criminal conspiracy.

    I think both Leman and I are talking more of the Mulder/X-files type wacky conspiracy theories which consist of selective and defective arrangement of disparate facts to reach a conclusion that is inferior to more obvious theories which incorporate more data, are not selective, or just downright batty.

    It’s not a matter of rather run-of-the-mill criminality one sees in things like Iran Contra, or the deceptive behavior of the administration in getting AT&T tap their entire network, or extraordinary renditions for which there is real evidence for. We’re talking, for instance, about the wacky stuff like holographic plane projectors, hushaboom and no-plane explanations for the towers or pentagon which followed to their logical conclusions lead to such a level of insane complexity that nothing short of an omniscient being could pull it off.

    Ben Franklin had a saying, three can keep a secret if two are dead.

  15. #15 Bronze Dog
    July 18, 2007

    Ben Franklin had a saying, three can keep a secret if two are dead.

    And that’s why these bloated hypotheses always get on my nerves: It requires me to believe that the hypothetical ringleaders are gods. Bow and worship them.

    That’s one of the motives I suspect is behind some of the cranks: They want to believe that the US is so unassailable, so perfectly protected that the only way we could be attacked is if we do it ourselves.

    If you’ll pardon me for a bit, the circular logic and rereading my old classic link above has got a shrill voice I’ve attached to John Carter shouting “Trust me! Trust me! Trust me!” in my head.

  16. #16 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    A standard “psyop” tactic is “poisoning the wells”. Feed plausible bull-shit to anyone that seems to have a clue…

    Gently accumulating, correlating, but distrusting all information and all sources, and keeping an open mind in all directions is Right.

    John Carter – that was well said.

    In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core). For instance, this blogger and his favourite pets, they may be well educated in modern science and analytical methods, but apparently are not as wise in their sense of history. A little research could list dozens if not hundreds of governments that became or continued as fascists:

    Fascism: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

    That description should sound familiar.

  17. #17 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    Bronze Dog, you keep harping on the belief that there could never be a conspiracy theory because nobody could keep a secret.

    Ben Franklin had a saying, three can keep a secret if two are dead.
    br>And that’s why these bloated hypotheses always get on my nerves: It requires me to believe that the hypothetical ringleaders are gods. Bow and worship them.

    Hmmm. Think about that for a short second. By that same logic, the attacks of 9/11 could never have happened, I mean, according to you, it takes thousands (I have even heard say tens of thousands!) of people to plan and execute a conspiracy of this type!.

    Well somebody did.

    My guess it was less than 30 people who knew the details, and 18 of those probably only found out about 24 hours in advance (Atta excluded).

    So how many people was that that would be required again?

  18. #18 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core).”

    Just curious, do you actually have any kind of statistical data to support this absurd claim, or are you just pulling it out of your ass to buttress your extant conspiracy paranoia?

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “Hmmm. Think about that for a short second. By that same logic, the attacks of 9/11 could never have happened, I mean, according to you, it takes thousands (I have even heard say tens of thousands!) of people to plan and execute a conspiracy of this type!.”

    And you don’t see any difference between the two situations? In what actually happened, most if not all of those aware of the details of the plot were known to non-Americans who also happened to be anti-American extremist terrorists. Constrast this with a massive conspiracy to make a controlled demolition look like the biggest terrorist attack in history. The latter would require quite a few more personel on the deck to carry out.

  20. #20 John Carter
    July 18, 2007

    I see one really nasty bit of circular logic:
    There was no evidence of wrong doing since all witnesses had been killed (disappeared) and the evidence actively destroyed. Thus expecting evidence to support a conspiracy theory is just plain stupid!

    Nothing circular about it. Quite straightforward. Don’t expect evidence, expect it to be destroyed. Don’t expect some super cop to come tease out the forensic micro-evidence if the cops are committing the crimes. (Or even if the cover up is sufficiently good so as to appear as if there is no crime.)

    I’m not saying, “Trust Me, Believe the Nutters” I’m saying, you, me, and the conspiracy nutters haven’t clue what actually happened in almost every event.

    Taking _any_ position for or against is stupid. The sanest response is to say, “Hmm. I don’t really know what happened here, X says this, Y says that, I’m going to hold judgement and store _both_ claims _and_ who made them in my mind to correlate with anything else that comes by.”

    If my shrill voice is saying anything, it’s “We don’t know anything, so don’t assume. Merely gather info.”

    As soon as there is a body on the ground, assume the lies are already thick in the air, and probably have been for quite awhile.

  21. #21 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “Taking _any_ position for or against is stupid. The sanest response is to say, “Hmm. I don’t really know what happened here, X says this, Y says that, I’m going to hold judgement and store _both_ claims _and_ who made them in my mind to correlate with anything else that comes by.”

    If my shrill voice is saying anything, it’s “We don’t know anything, so don’t assume. Merely gather info.”

    As soon as there is a body on the ground, assume the lies are already thick in the air, and probably have been for quite awhile.”

    This is a rather blatant argument from personal incredulity. There aren’t any facts presented to support this, just plain vanilla conspiracy paranoia.

    As to your example of cops committing crimes. The only proper response is, “huh?” So police officers are never arrested, charged and convicted for misconduct. There aren’t multiple, stratified levels of law enforcement in this country? The judicial system isn’t administratively independent of police agencies? It’s an inane analogy, and shows the opposte of what you intend.

  22. #22 llewelly
    July 18, 2007

    I have been accused of being secretly in the pay of various western intelligence services (I promise, I haven’t seen a penny).

    The organizations who fund this sort of research are so secretive even the recipients of funds have NO IDEA who they are really working for …

  23. #23 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    That New Scientist article quoted has some thoughtful points. You only cite two groups (conspiracy theorists and anti-theorists). I expect that there may be a third.

    So, at one end of the spectrum are conspiracy theorists. In the middle, the Occam s’s Razor group, and at the other extreme (other end of the bell-curve if you will), I would expect that we would find a group whom believe fundamentalists-like whatever they are told – people who accede totally to authority figures (John Dean spoke of this in his recent book). They defend their “party line” just as vehemently as the roving-eyed conspiracy theorist. My guess is that they exhibit similar traits (confirmation bias, new information causing adjusting rationalizations to fit their authority-driven-ideologies, etc).

    From my experience, I’ve had occasion with a few of each of these types.

  24. #24 Bronze Dog
    July 18, 2007

    Bronze Dog, you keep harping on the belief that there could never be a conspiracy theory because nobody could keep a secret. Hmmm. Think about that for a short second. By that same logic, the attacks of 9/11 could never have happened, I mean, according to you, it takes thousands (I have even heard say tens of thousands!) of people to plan and execute a conspiracy of this type!.

    Oh, my dear Ed, you’re even stupider and/or dishonest than I originally anticipated.

    Do you seriously think that we take Ben Franklin literally?

    The point behind the expression is that secrets are hard to keep. More people in on the conspiracy means more potential for it to slip out. How can you not figure that out?

    You also lie about my actual position on the competing conspiracies. Which is more likely to succeed: One that takes 19 or so hijackers and a few higher ups in a distant location from a region with a lot of anti-US sentiment OR one that requires recruitment of thousands of US citizens who’ve spent time living with US citizens, AND have truly whopping amounts of technical skills necessary to plant bombs/hologram generators/whatever in publicly occupied buildings for months without being noticed and perform an act in daylight AND silence all the eyewitnesses AND doctor any footage that arrives AND plant evidence AND not have a pang of conscience later.

    My hypothesis has a minimum of 19 or 20 people involved with little or no emotional conflict.

    Your hypothesis requires thousands of US citizens capable of murdering fellow Americans in cold blood AND have god-like cover-up skills and a very long planning stage for an absurdly overdone plan that doesn’t make sense given all the failure points it has.

    In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core). For instance, this blogger and his favourite pets, they may be well educated in modern science and analytical methods, but apparently are not as wise in their sense of history.

    I’m already quite confident it’s gone bad. Scienceblogs and the majority of my blogger friends are already very much against the idiocy and unethical nature of the current administration.

    The issue is that Bush and Co. are NOT GODS. Bush is bound by the same laws of physics we are. Personally, I think that knowingly or unknowingly, you are supporting the status quo by placing Bush up as an infinitely wise (but evil) god-king who no one can oppose because with a woosh of his finger, all the evidence against him is magically erased.

    With your repeated lies trying to label me and others here as Bush supporters in the face of readily available evidence, you are engaging in revisionist history, but you cannot erase everything I’ve said with political spin.

    Sorry, but your great and terrible Wizard of Oz is just a mortal, chimpy human without the competence necessary to pull of the giant, absurd Goldberg device. He’s an idiot who won (possibly, or even probably, by a little cheating) a pair of popularity contests. He is no invincible god-king with legions of invisible, blindly loyal demons.

    Sorry for the mass of foam, but I can’t stand people who use the same dishonest, transparent tactics as my enemies. McCarthy engaged in specious Stalinist logic in his convictions of vaguely defined enemies. Had I lived during the Red Scare, I would oppose both sides.

    Sorry for another mass of foam, but I can’t abide by such flagrant, repetitious dishonesty.

  25. #25 Ted
    July 18, 2007

    He is no invincible god-king with legions of invisible, blindly loyal demons.

    So then, I take it you don’t hold much stock in the theory that he’s been anointed by God?

    If God can’t mobilize legions of invisible, blindly loyal demons to do the bidding for his earthly instrument, than who can? Hmmm?

    I propose that such a legion of invisible, blindly loyal demons would HAVE the requisite technical skills to plan and execute such a conspiracy.

  26. #26 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    Tyler DiPietro:

    In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core).

    Just curious, do you actually have any kind of statistical data to support this absurd claim, or are you just pulling it out of your ass to buttress your extant conspiracy paranoia?

    No, sorry, I have not had the occasion to do the research to factually support that claim. Seems reasonable though. I mean, look around you (or even at yourself!). Is Habeas Corpus important to you (if so, what have you done about it?) Do you feel that it is okay to have carte blanche warrantless wiretapping on any citizen, like any time? (If so what have you done about it?).

    For *most* people, I suspect that they would answer that those things are not okay (or a host of other things like this). Yet they have done nothing about it; and likely because they do not feel yet threatened.

    So, it seems reasonable to assume that the there is ample evidence that the government in taking a few extra liberties. Don’t you think so?

    Oh, and should I be expecting a retraction of the “buttress your extant conspiracy paranoia?” wisecrack? Of are you trying to artfully demonstrate the potential pitfalls of the anti-theorist mindset as stated in the article above?

  27. #27 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    Tyler DiPietro:

    Constrast this with a massive conspiracy to make a controlled demolition look like the biggest terrorist attack in history. The latter would require quite a few more personel on the deck to carry out.

    Really. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t given it much thought. Why don’t you tell me how many people it would take. You seem to have thought about this. Tell me, what’s the minimum that it could really be done with. How rational could you do this? Or are you just spouting fecal matter? I doubt that you could even hazard a realistic guess.

    Personally, I’ve never thought that way, but if you must, hey, knock yourself out

  28. #28 John Carter
    July 18, 2007

    Careful now, the topic isn’t 9/11.

    The topic is what is a sane attitude to conspiracy theories.

    I’m not defending any particular theory, I’m merely pointing out in the presence of active, powerful destruction of evidence and suppression of investigation and apathetic public response…

    ..odd’s on you don’t really have a clue whats going on and there are a lot of lies and half truths going on.

    What hard evidence do I have to fuel my paranoia? Having lived among people like these…

    http://www.stanford.edu/class/history48q/Documents/EMBARGO/VOLUME5.HTM

    (That’s just one volume of a 7 volume report…, but in some senses a good place to start.

    Allow me to tell you, from personal recollection… they seemed nice people at the time. Serious, hard working, church going, no different from the average American. Just Joe Blogs working hard to fix what they perceived to be a problem….and killing and torturing an awful lot of innocents doing so.

  29. #29 llewelly
    July 18, 2007

    There’s a lot of non-intuitive stuff out there that makes people’s head turn because it seems to fly in the face of common sense so they conclude that common sense and logic have been tossed and cahoots are in order. My example:

    We spend about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. How does an enemy approach that disparity strategically? One answer: Through asymmetric use of force. Huh? You mean poor people respond to overtechnology with under-technology? Can we win against an asymmetric foe that’s battling you with his fingernails by throwing more money at technology weapons? If not, why keep shoveling it to crony corporations?

    Ergo, this strategy must be part of a conspiracy to rob the treasury through the front doors in broad daylight. What else explains it? Incompetence? There’s 300M people watching this go down in real time; I don’t buy incompetence on that scale; someone would have noted the similarity to the Laffer curve.

    Your quoted paragraph is explained in a simple word: Lobbying. The primary limitation on a corporation’s lobbying power is money. Once a corporation succeeds in lobbying for bills that make it more profitable, its lobbying power increases, resulting in a more effective ability to lobby for yet more favorable conditions. This is a positive feedback. It is constrained by other factors such as the finite size of government funds and the numerous competitors (many driven by the same or similar positive feedback) for government funds. But for the defense industry, there was an additional boost – from the late 1930s until the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a strong, clear need for a powerful and high-tech military. Since most voting Americans alive today spent most of their lives in that circumstance, the assumption that we need a large and high-tech military has been trained into us to the point of a reflex – which was slowly weakening until Osama’s plan went off, giving Bush’s propaganda loons the opportunity to rebuild the perception that a strong high-tech military was necessary. That’s all it takes – a strong positive feedback, a long period of highly favorable conditions, and, before unfavorable conditions lasted long enough to greatly weaken the defense industry, a serendipitous event (sorry, but the defense industry didn’t plan 9/11, but clearly benefited, so how else to describe it?) which restored favorable conditions.

    Positive feedbacks can make a very small initial effect rapidly grow into a large effect. Often they work both ways (e.g. decrease in profits reduces corp’s lobbying power), and as a result act to amplify the variations present in other conditions. They make the world much harder to predict and understand (among other things, various positive feedbacks are a primary reason weather forecasts rapidly decline in reliability as the forecast period is extended into the future.)

  30. #30 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    The point behind the expression is that secrets are hard to keep. More people in on the conspiracy means more potential for it to slip out. How can you not figure that out?

    I can’t remember exactly, What was that great big bomb project that had a few people involved in some desert somewhere in the 1940′s Hmmm. Oh that’s right. I think I have it figured out now. Thanks for your help.

    You also lie about my actual position on the competing conspiracies. Which is more likely to succeed: One that takes 19 or so hijackers and a few higher ups in a distant location from a region with a lot of anti-US sentiment OR one that requires recruitment of thousands of US citizens who’ve

    Lying. No I am not! (Prove it!) But you are presenting a false dichotomy – there are trillions of other possibilities. It is not just between this thing or the other. *Should* a conspiracy have been perpetrated, then it could have been as few as 10 or twenty knowing people. Any boots-on-the-ground types need not have known for what grand reason they were doing what they were doing. And I believe that “Tyler DiPietro” is in the process of calculating those numbers and possibilities as we speak. ;->

    I subscribe more to John Carter’s position:

    I’m not saying, “Trust Me, Believe the Nutters” I’m saying, you, me, and the conspiracy nutters haven’t clue what actually happened in almost every event.

    Taking _any_ position for or against is stupid. The sanest response is to say, “Hmm. I don’t really know what happened here, X says this, Y says that, I’m going to hold judgement and store _both_ claims _and_ who made them in my mind to correlate with anything else that comes by.”


    But back to to bad dog

    My hypothesis has a minimum of 19 or 20 people involved with little or no emotional conflict.

    Your hypothesis requires thousands of US citizens capable of murdering fellow Americans in cold blood AND have god-like cover-up skills and a very long planning stage for an absurdly overdone plan that doesn’t make sense given all the failure points it has.

    *My hypothesis*!!! (Prove it!) Laddy, you seriously are delusional. I have never stated that in any fashion and / or in any place and have specifically told you so repeated times. Yet once again, you trot out this kind of thing to falsely attack someone you disagree with. For shame. Tsk Tsk. Seek help.

    I’m already quite confident it’s gone bad. Scienceblogs and the majority of my blogger friends are already very much against the

    That’s a relief. Action too late is more dangerous than none at all.

    With your repeated lies trying to label me and others here as Bush supporters

    I made a meandering aspersion once as a declared “fallacious argument” and it was not to be taken seriously. Still, I graciously acknowledged that I had hurt your tender sensibilites a few posts later. (but the “repeated lies” bit! Hmmm – what was that in the blog entry above about confirmation bias )

    Sorry, but your great and terrible Wizard of Oz is just a mortal, chimpy human

    Yes, I’m glad that we both realize that. The position of president isn’t what it used to be. Now there are many more strings on the marionette. Chimpy doesn’t have what it takes, but he makes a good president, cause he thinks he does.

    Sorry for another mass of foam, but I can’t abide by such flagrant, repetitious dishonesty.

    If you carefully read my posts, you will see that I have not been dishonest. I have indeed been scathing and satirical, but certainly not dishonest. So, I trust that you will take my continuing posts (if any) for what they actually *are* instead of reading things into them. You will note that as you quit reading between the lines (cause honestly, you’re not that good at it), then I will cut back on my satirical bite (funny how that will correlate!)

  31. #31 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “No, sorry, I have not had the occasion to do the research to factually support that claim. Seems reasonable though. I mean, look around you (or even at yourself!). Is Habeas Corpus important to you (if so, what have you done about it?) Do you feel that it is okay to have carte blanche warrantless wiretapping on any citizen, like any time? (If so what have you done about it?).”

    Then you made an unsupported assertion. Most of your comments even in this one paragraph are red herrings. It’s an unjustified leap of logic, at best, to say that people who disbelieve in conspiracy theories only do so because of blind trust to the government. If anything, it’s the opposite. The government couldn’t even cover up Watergate or Iran contra to any degree of efficacy, they were uncovered by subsequent investigation. And remember, Watergate was a breakin to a psychiatrists office in a hotel, a much smaller scale operation than a covert controlled demolition on one of the largest commercial centers in the world.

    “Why don’t you tell me how many people it would take.”

    Well, let’s see how much you’d have to do to pull it off. You’d have to have a team of demolition experts who are able to covertly wire a building, with thousands of people working in it daily, with explosives without noticing. Then you’d have to have some way to make it look like it was due to terrorists who hijacked planes an slammed them into a building. Then you’d have to make sure all the firefighters, rescure workers, police, airline piolots, etc. never report anything. The you’d have to keep the mouths of academic and professional organization in structural engineering and demolition quiet (none have supported the “controlled demolition conjecture”). That’s just what’s off the top of my head. It certainly sounds a bit more massive than a coordinated plane hijacking.

  32. #32 Ted
    July 18, 2007

    Since most voting Americans alive today spent most of their lives in that circumstance, the assumption that we need a large and high-tech military has been trained into us to the point of a reflex – which was slowly weakening until Osama’s plan went off, giving Bush’s propaganda loons the opportunity to rebuild the perception that a strong high-tech military was necessary.

    I’m a voting American alive that didn’t necessarily think so. It appears to me that while defense spending has tangible benefits to the Republic, it can reach that inflection point where additional spending not only doesn’t cause you greater effectiveness but actually diminishes it. Say for instance, while you assemble a reasonable defense you are gaining value, once you cross into unreasonable defense and/or offense you create an incentive for others to keep up with similar motivations and thus we escalate and counter-escalate. Past a certain point, the more we spend, the more our “enemies spend”. Pass another point, and even if our enemies stop spending, our economy is too dependent on “defense” and can’t maneuver without causing global economic meltdown.

    What to do, what to do? Oh, I know. Lets sell weapons and arms to underdeveloped nations so they can escalate to their own points of inflection and annoy their neighbors. And then their neighbors can buy our wares. And the market continues to work its magic. Lucky for us that we’ll take their resources in trade because they don’t have jack shit otherwise.

    What is your point? Lobbying makes stupidity economically right? Is this what the American people actually want? To spend as much as the rest of the world combined, and still go to bed snivelling because Director of DHS has a gut feeling? To live in fear of people that have so much technology and money that they routinely strap bombs to themselves so they can injure others with bits of their teeth when they fly past real fast?

    This is NOT a transparent government (or for that matter a transparent system of government), and your pean to lobbying goes a long way to explain WHY people don’t trust jack when it comes to authorities and believe that anything that spews from their brought and paid-for media whores are motherf*cking lies. Because the authorities are corrupt, and because they are beholden to lobbyists a lot more than the interests of the people.

    When it comes push to shove, if our representatives aren’t serving our interests, but rather put the interests of lobbyists ahead of us and to our detriment, they’re conspiring against us. I got no problem calling that a conspiracy.

    Call it routine business if you want. I call it sh*t. (Damn, now I gots to wipe the foam from my mouth!)

    PS: I would have thought that logic would step in at some point and point out that only a relatively small group is being served by the existing plan of action. With all the fingerpointing at the conspiracy loonies lack of logic in their paranoic rants, where is this abundance of logic to point out that the government and the Republic are being manipulated by lobbyists? Now to my thinking — that would be actually useful — I mean relative to punching autistic kids that ride the short bus — the lobbyists are usually pretty smart, college graduates and punch back. Hell, they might even take your lunch.

  33. #33 Tyler DiPietro
    July 18, 2007

    “I can’t remember exactly, What was that great big bomb project that had a few people involved in some desert somewhere in the 1940′s Hmmm. Oh that’s right. I think I have it figured out now. Thanks for your help.”

    BTW, if you’re going to invoke the Manhattan project, you may wish to acknowledge the security leaks that occurred, which illustrate BronzeDog’s point about secrets.

  34. #34 tsk_tsk
    July 18, 2007

    Tyler DiPietro

    Then you made an unsupported assertion. Most of your comments even in this one paragraph are red herrings.

    Dear God! An unsupported assertion!! With herring on the side!! Why why, am I the only culprit? Were there more? Did you see which way they went? Dear God! *head between hands, running for the hills*

    I will let it stand for what it is. All knowledge of the real world doesn’t necessarily have to have a study attatchted to it. How do you determine what you eat for breakfast?

    It’s an unjustified leap of logic, at best, to say that people who disbelieve in conspiracy theories only do so because of

    What? When did I make that connection. Prove it. Circle it if you must. But stop your blathering at any rate. It is nonsensically based twaddle. (Say no to drugs, at least when you post laddy!)

    If anything, it’s the opposite. The government couldn’t even cover up Watergate or Iran contra to any degree of efficacy

    I haven’t looked into it too much, but northwoods project, Daniel Ellsberg’s report of Gulf of Tonkin, like probably thousands of operations by the CIA in order to destablize foreign governments what was your point again?

    Well, let’s see how much you’d have to do to pull it off. You’d have to have a team of demolition experts who are able to covertly wire a building, with thousands of people working in it daily, with explosives without noticing. Then you’d have to have some way to make it look like it was due to terrorists who hijacked planes an slammed them into a building. Then you’d have to make sure all the firefighters, rescure workers, police, airline piolots, etc. never report anything. The you’d have to keep the mouths of academic and professional organization in structural engineering and demolition quiet (none have supported the “controlled demolition conjecture”). That’s just what’s off the top of my head. It certainly sounds a bit more massive than a coordinated plane hijacking.

    Valiant effort laddy, But, unless you could do better than that, I would find it difficult to hire you for the job of planning!

  35. #35 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    BTW, if you’re going to invoke the Manhattan project, you may wish to acknowledge the security leaks that occurred, which illustrate BronzeDog’s point about secrets.

    And how many foreign governments reported that they had tipped the US government about pending attacks; What was that serious NIE in July or August of 2001 warning that bin Laden’s Al-quada and *what* exactly did it say about planes?

    Don’t you get tired of being you?

  36. #36 Bronze Dog
    July 19, 2007

    If Nixon couldn’t do it, Bush most certainly couldn’t.

    As for the charge of dishonesty on my part, look in the mirror, tsk and try scrolling up when you get back to your computer screen. You’ve continually employed propaganda tactics and logical fallacies. How about you try critical thinking and the scientific method? Your “arguments” have the same logical structure as every other nut of every other stripe in every other subject I’ve ever bumped into. Hollywood and mainstream political “debate” logic doesn’t work in the real world. There aren’t monolithic governments with single agendas and mindless, soulless minions conveniently proved for you to hate.

    The real world isn’t so cut and dry. It’s invariably complex and messy. And guess what: It’s not filled with cardboard cut-outs and 1-dimensional stock characters like you would have us believe. It’s full of human beings.

    As for me “proving” my hypothesis, well, you can read all about it in the NIST report and probably find more resources here.

    Of course, like a psychic confronted with James Randi, you’ll slink away and pretend that motives alter the laws of thermodynamics or something equally crapful.

    Note that I’m firing off more of my thoughts with less self-censorship as my ‘foam’ remark should have indicated last time. It’s just so frustrating to keep running into such cookie-cutter nuts. Alties, far-right wingers, fundies, IDiots, fans of psychics, astrologers, and the whole postmodern ‘truth is relative’ newage crowd. It never ends, and it’s so full of Hollywood-inspired thought-stopping cliche.

    Sorry to keep venting. I’ll spend tomorrow watching funny stuff.

  37. #37 Tyler DiPietro
    July 19, 2007

    “What? When did I make that connection. Prove it. Circle it if you must. But stop your blathering at any rate. It is nonsensically based twaddle. (Say no to drugs, at least when you post laddy!)”

    Uh, look at what you said a few posts above (the initial one I responded to):

    “In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core). For instance, this blogger and his favourite pets, they may be well educated in modern science and analytical methods, but apparently are not as wise in their sense of history.”

    I certainly sense such a “connection” being made there. Yeah, it’s not exactly fucking me in the ass and calling me “bitch”, but it’s obvious nonetheless.

    I haven’t looked into it too much, but northwoods project, Daniel Ellsberg’s report of Gulf of Tonkin, like probably thousands of operations by the CIA in order to destablize foreign governments what was your point again?”

    Northwoods was never anything but an internal idea tossed around by some crazy hawks in the Pentagon, it was never enacted, probaby because it was laughably unrealistic. The gulf of tonkin incident was much like the weapons of mass destruction gambit in Iraq, and like it it was uncovered by subsequent investigation. We know about many of the CIA’s shady international operations, such as it’s role in the coups of Pinochet and Peron. And even your chosen example above, the Manhattan Project, couldn’t completely protect itself against leaks. Nothing you’ve presented adds to the plausibility to the idea of the 9/11 conspiracy.

    “Valiant effort laddy, But, unless you could do better than that, I would find it difficult to hire you for the job of planning!”

    LOL. You actually think this irrelevant nonsense disputes anything I’ve said? Like most cospiracy theorists, you don’t concern yourself with details, you just extrapolate according to your preconcieved conspiracism.

  38. #38 Tyler DiPietro
    July 19, 2007

    “And how many foreign governments reported that they had tipped the US government about pending attacks; What was that serious NIE in July or August of 2001 warning that bin Laden’s Al-quada and *what* exactly did it say about planes?”

    *SNORE* As usual, when the crank is presented with contrary evidence to one claim, he moves on to another. You see, there are plenty of cases of government negligence and incompetence that you can pick from, but from thise limited data you extrapolate a massive conspiracy. Good job, junior.

  39. #39 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    As for me “proving” my hypothesis, well, you can read all about it in the NIST report and probably find more resources here.

    Of course, like a psychic confronted with James Randi, you’ll slink away and pretend that motives alter the laws of thermodynamics or something equally crapful.

    Again. If you slow down and read very.very.slowly. you will see that the (Prove it!) comments were only ever directed at your callous assertions that I was “lying and misrepresenting you“, or that I was saying (Prove it!) to the lies and misrepresentations that you were saying about me. Nothing about hypothesis’ here.

    Again, (but with a twist, so be careful and read it very slowly to increase your comprehension if you must), “prove it wasn’t this”. (ohh, tricky one huh!)

    So, should I assume that you have a serious reading / comprehension problem, or are you really serious about wanting me to do this for some god-knows reason. If so, will you be so kind to re-state categorically what it is that I have mis-stated or misunderstood about your particular viewpoint. What specifically would I be looking for in the NIST or the anti-theorist web site (circles and arrows may help you if you indeed are that disabled), and how that might be different than what I am saying. Thanks (and show your work ;->).

    *now in full snark mode – because you’ve indirectly asked me for it *

    Or is it that you feel much more comfortable with someone whom you feel is different that you; someone to project hostility towards?

    Again, either slow down; quit reading between the lines; or seriously seek help. But you truly should quit using name-calling as your main tour de force. Not helpful. Really. Not helpful.

    *leaving snark mode*

    Because you “just say it” doesn’t make it true.

    It’s just so frustrating to keep running into such cookie-cutter nuts. Alties, far-right wingers, fundies, IDiots, fans of psychics, astrologers, and the whole postmodern ‘truth is relative’ newage crowd.

    You have no idea how much I relate to that (except the postmodern crowd, too old school here). I would bet that I slap down more each day mano a mano that you. They’re just different in this country.

  40. #40 John Carter
    July 19, 2007

    I can’t resist another crack at the metal canine…


    This presumes that people are capable of the god-like act of a perfect cover-up. I don’t think anyone in the administration is anywhere near that competent. They’re frikkin’ politicians, not Doctor Doom.

    Ahh.. the problem lies more at the other end. Assuming God-like powers of the investigators.

    Sure conspiracies leak.

    Unfortunately most people are busy watching what Paris Hilton is up to now.

    Or simply don’t have the time, energy, money or inclination to battle it.

    Or work for a boss who has other priorities.

    Or have way more pressing and obvious crimes to follow.

    Or sort of agree with the conspirators at some level.

    Or too plain humanly stupid.

    Or nobody noticed the clue when it went by.

    Or couldn’t believe anybody would do something _that_ stupid.

    Or couldn’t believe a nice politician man could be that bad.

    Or …

    So there may be no Doctor Dooms around, but the few Sherlock Holmes are way overworked and underpaid.

  41. #41 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Me:

    No, sorry, I have not had the occasion to do the research to factually support that claim. Seems reasonable though. I mean, look around you (or even at yourself!). Is Habeas Corpus important to you (if so, what have you done about it?) Do you feel that it is okay to have carte blanche warrantless wiretapping on any citizen, like any time? (If so what have you done about it?).

    (Note, I say nothing, I repeat “nothing” about relating anti-theoristsas I guess we are now calling themto government, robot-minded lackeys. Indeed, I wasn’t even mentioning conspiracy theories!)

    You:

    Then you made an unsupported assertion. Most of your comments even in this one paragraph are red herrings. It’s an unjustified leap of logic, at best, to say that people who disbelieve in conspiracy theories only do so because of blind trust to the government. If anything, it’s the opposite. The government couldn’t even cover up Watergate or Iran contra to any degree of efficacy, they were uncovered by subsequent investigation. And remember, Watergate was a breakin to a psychiatrists office in a hotel, a much smaller scale operation than a covert controlled demolition on one of the largest commercial centers in the world.


    Point of difference:

    You claim that I have made some connection that It’s an unjustified leap of logic, at best, to say that people who disbelieve in conspiracy theories only do so because of blind trust to the government

    Maybe English isn’t your first language.

    There is no way that I can read this my comments in that manner. I’ve even tried closing one eye! At least not in your quoted post of me that originated this comment.

    However (but don’t get your hopes up, cause I didn’t say it here either), however, in the post where I actually commented on the Patrick Leman’s New Scientist article way up there, I did propose a third group (egads, while making another of those wild unsupported assertions that you have so expressed such dislike for). I said it would be logical that there may be a third groupthe other fringe, mainly of the fundamentalist ideologue type. This may well be what you are referring to. I indeed did say that they have more blind faith to one ideology or another (church, religion, what have you ). But, I definitely did not say what you said I said.

    Just to make you happy, although its not really a full double blind scientific study and all, still it is a book and you can squash bugs with it if you must, I refer you to John Dean’s recent book: Conservatives Without Conscience. You can follow the link for a quick review if you you need (and somehow, I’m sure you will!).

    Again, please tell me that someone with some science background has learned the basics of reading and comprehension. Swatting flies-on-fire is tiring and futile. There is so much real life and knowledge to pursue.

    As hopefully a final note on this “reading between the lines twaddle, the subject of confirmation bias was not definitively explained in this post, so here is a good working definition that I use:

    Confirmation bias occurs when we selectively notice or focus upon evidence which tends to support the things we already believe or want to be true while ignoring that evidence which would serve to disconfirm those beliefs or ideas. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when it comes to those beliefs which are based upon prejudice, faith, or tradition rather than on empirical evidence.

    And something else very interrelated to confirmation bias that you should find of particular interest

    The Forer Effect: refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.
    Psychologist Bertram R. Forer found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.

    Sorry, I cannot reference the quotes as I have had them for quite some time. I generally help people with a specific case of the Astrology virus-like meme to understand that these are not so kewl patterns of behaviour.

    And Tyler DiPietro, if you want, I’m sure that you can find lots and lots of studies that use these big words if that helps you believe that these wild-eyed assertions can indeed be part of our shared reality *tongue firmly in cheek*.

  42. #42 Skemono
    July 19, 2007

    Interesting article. “Why do people believe in conspiracy theories” is a question that has come up often recently in my house, so I found it very interesting.

    And I added a few more possibilities to the societal disempowerment trend.

  43. #43 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Tyler DiPietro:

    Just to be complete, and to deal with this assertion so that you don’t accuse me of cowardice:

    You quoted my much earlier comment:

    In the US, it appears that most people can never accept that their own government could possibly turn bad (maybe to the very core). For instance, this blogger and his favourite pets, they may be well educated in modern science and analytical methods, but apparently are not as wise in their sense of history.

    Yes, and prima facie, I stand by that assertion. I also think that I did a more than adequate job of demonstrating why when I stated that too many people let the government erode their freedoms (Habeas Corpus, wiretapping, etc).

    If you get the stick out of your ass, and thing about it, a reasonable man (in the classical sense) would have to generally agree with this sentiment. Not least in America, but also other countries which are losing there freedoms at a frightening rate (Australia, Canada, England, etc).

    But, in summary, it would be a huge, huge, huge (and erroneous) stretch to claim that those comments meant what you falsely accused me of saying:

    It’s an unjustified leap of logic, at best, to say that people who disbelieve in conspiracy theories only do so because of blind trust to the government.

    You might as well say that it proves that you want bacon for breakfast. I mean, if you’re going to make stuff up, why not that? Then at least you’ll know, and you won’t have to go do a study on it. ;->

    However, in no way does it specify that I mean that a sub-group of people who call themselves anti-theorists (or wahtever) are government lackey no-minds.

    But don’t try and label me as one of your anti-theorist types. I am not that. Nor an ivory towered pundit, or a creationist, or a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, or anything that might be associated with your myopic little life). I don’t compartmentalize the world into black and white; good and bad; with-us or against-us like you evidently do. I do call a spade a spade. But I generally think that kind of binary thinking is dangerous. It leads to all kinds of group-think dangers, and is really no better than the unyielding ideologues of any belief or stripe.

    You might be better off trying to understand the rationale of why someone of a different opinion than yours might hold that opinion. The web should be great for that.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m guessing that you don’t get out much. So, use the “world” part of the world wide web. Live a little by trying to see the world through other people’s eyes. I think it was Aristotle who said:

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

    Its good advice.

  44. #44 Andrew Dodds
    July 19, 2007

    I’ve stopped believing in conspiricies ever since they put a chip in my head…

    (Sorry)

  45. #45 Ted
    July 19, 2007

    llewelly said:

    Your quoted paragraph is explained in a simple word: Lobbying.

    And I apologize for sort of foaming at the mouth over that post. I just felt bad that the act of defining the process formally legitimized it in some way. And if the military lobby was the only one in question, it could even be dealt with. Unfortunately, there’s so many of them that the overwhelming effect is frustrating, and I refuse to accept them as normal just because it’s given a name considered acceptable.

    BronzeDog:

    It’s just so frustrating to keep running into such cookie-cutter nuts. Alties, far-right wingers, fundies, IDiots, fans of psychics, astrologers, and the whole postmodern ‘truth is relative’ newage crowd. It never ends, and it’s so full of Hollywood-inspired thought-stopping cliche.

    I am disappointed that you included the post-modern truth is relative in your litany, given the allowance that people see truth differently depending on where they stand on the social strata.

    I’m guessing we’ll need to meet behind the cafeteria, by the dumpsters at 4:30PM? I’ll have my people call your people to set up a convenient time.

  46. #46 spartanrider
    July 19, 2007

    Paranoia strikes deep,
    into your heart it will creep,
    it starts when your always afraid.

    Buffalo Springfield

  47. #47 Bronze Dog
    July 19, 2007

    I am disappointed that you included the post-modern truth is relative in your litany, given the allowance that people see truth differently depending on where they stand on the social strata.

    That’s not what I was talking about. What you’re talking about is “perception is relative”. Social strata aren’t going to change the value of pi, though it may play a role in how they’re educated about pi.

  48. #48 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    I think that there’s an old joke about paranoid schizophrenics that can apply well to this “what is a conspiracy theory” debate:

    “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean I’m not being followed.”

    You don’t have to look hard to see the roots of what could arguably be called “real conspiracy” everywhere, at one level or another. I contend that it should only be of major concern and a source of rational debate when it *actually does* effect one’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Case in point: in this post, the combined mind of MarkH and Bronze Dog concluded:

    Again I think people are getting confused between criminal conspiracies and the more wacky conspiracy theory that attempts to tie together wacky random facts into what Bronze Dog appropriately describes as non-parsimonious explanations.

    No one is saying that people don’t conspire to commit criminal acts. Nor does talking about the Mafia make one a conspiracy theorist because you’re talking about run of the mill criminal conspiracy.

    So, I gather that if it is not overtly criminal, it is to be overlooked. Or more to the point, you seem to propose that any theory about an alleged active conspiracy of the uber-lords governing our lands or feeding us information are simply wild-eyed stuff of delusional fantasy. (BTW, is your “I see delusional people” sixth sense much different than the paranoid schizophrenic reference above?)

    Also, Bronze dog states boldly that

    In short, yes, the hijackers did for(m) a conspiracy according to the theory. It doesn’t fit the archetype for the newer connotation of “conspiracy theory” since it doesn’t set up the entire world as being ‘in on it.’

    The various wild conspiracy hypotheses promoted by twoofers do fit the archetype of being wildly large and anti-parsimonious, and I usually attack them for being wildly large and anti-parsimonious.

    But what if the results of what you would call a “conspiracy theory” were the loss of a great portion of a nation’s treasury; or worse, hundreds of thousands of wasted lives all based on a pile of lies and the alleged collusion between the powers that be. Alas, in the minds of far too many, they still see no “smoking gun”, so they still pan this off, conveniently labelling it as wild-eyed conspiracy theory.

    So, I guess that I am a conspiracy theorist. Because I do see evidence of thoughtful, wilful collusion between governments, the military industrial complex, and the media.

    Case in point:

    The Independent has just reported more evidence to support my “complicit media conspiracy theory” (at least a conspiracy theory to the regular troll-alert sentries of this blog)

    In 2003, Mr Blair phoned the owner of The Times and The Sun on 11 and 13 March, and on 19 March, the day before Britain and the United States invaded Iraq. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch-owned newspapers around the world. The day after two of the calls, The Sun launched vitriolic attacks on the French President Jacques Chirac. The Government quoted him as saying he would never support military action against Saddam Hussein, a claim hotly disputed by France.

    I mean, all that you have to do is to read much pretty any non-US based newspaper of almost any day of the week and you will see more than ample evidence of conspiracy theories!!! (Oh dear, lions and tigers and bearsoh no!)

    Hmmm. “I see parochial people”.

  49. #49 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Look, time ceaselessly marches onwards, but some things really haven’t changed. Somtimes I feel that it is just different actors tagging off in the great big Shakespearian stage of life. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    It has been 50 years since MacArthur made this quote, but it is probably even more applicable today:

    Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.

    General Douglas MacArthur(1957)

  50. #50 MarkH
    July 19, 2007

    No shit Sherlock. But that doesn’t give the government supernatural powers to hide evidence of the greatest crime ever committed.

    All those passengers disappeared? Those videos from a dozen different sources of the planes hitting the towers faked? Demolitions crews taking down two of the largest buildings in the world in secret? And meanwhile, no leaks from the conspirators?

    We just found out last week that the CIA renditions were leaked to the press from those within the CIA who objected to the practice. The consider, any of these idiotic conspiracies would require thousands of people keeping their mouths shut in the face of seeing 3000 Americans murdered. You think that’s likely?

    That’s why I quoted Franklin. These conspiracy theories become rapidly untenable under minimal scrutiny of their physical possibility or their understanding of human behavior.

  51. #51 hardindr
    July 19, 2007

    A very interesting post. I’d like to offer some links. Veteran researcher of the right-wing Chip Berlet has a website up at Political Research Associates on the worldview of conspiracism that readers might find interesting. Also, here is an interview that Berlet did with LBO publisher Doug Henwood on WBAI, which incidentally has offered conspiracist premiums on several of its most recent fundraising drives.

    Sociologist G. William Domhoff has also written regarding the inadequacy of conspiracy theories in understanding power and politics in the U.S.

  52. #52 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    And by the way, Bonze Dog said

    In short, yes, the hijackers did for(m) a conspiracy according to the theory. It doesn’t fit the archetype for the newer connotation of “conspiracy theory” since it doesn’t set up the entire world as being ‘in on it.’

    On at least one part of your statement above: “the entire world as being ‘in on it.” I think you are categorically wrong on this point. *If* the entire world were in on it (or at least the continental USA as that is sadly the entire world from most America’s perspective), but *if* the entire world was in on it, then, wouldn’t that be called *democracy*?

    I mean, examine the Iraq war run-up in March, 2003. Look at the overwhelming public support generated for what was surely to be folly. Democracy by any other name That is, unless of course, I have your acquiescence that some sort of skulduggery / conspiracy was indeed perpetrated by the powers of the day against the gears and mechanics of democracy (i.e. read “planned media campaign aimed to convince the minds of the masses about something that was known to be in error – or otherwise known as a, wait for it “conspiracy theory”).

    And before you return to your tired analogy / caveat that “the whole world is not monolithic”, and “there are many minds”, “competing interests”, etc etc etc (of which I agree in scope), let me add this:

    For the most part, I think that we can say that the power grab that has been on display since 9/11 has created a significant political force. That cabal, by careful manipulation (conspiracy??) has pretty much had its way at least until recently. The sheer fact that there are multiple players on the world stage does not mean that any one of them cannot effect significant change.

    (And yes, I do acknowledge that I have mis-used your quote at the top of this post by slightly twisting its more general intention, But my application of strict semantics has been intended to illustrate a cogent point nonetheless).

  53. #53 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    MarkH:

    But that doesn’t give the government supernatural powers to hide evidence of the greatest crime ever committed.

    What? You mean you don’t think that the most secretive government in the history of the US is carefully manipulating data, hiding some, and selectively leaking other? What kind of a denialist are you? (of “reality” itself maybe?)

    Go to a news site. Any news site. Educate yourself of quit making really dumbass statements!

    It too bad that you feel that the government would have to have *supernatural* powers to withhold information, but I think that they have a handy little rubber stamp that simply says “Top Secret” (with a lot of Dick Cheney’s fingerprint on it I might add!). That little piece of rubber carries with it a threat of severe penalty under the laws of the land if that information is leaked. But thankfully, there are some true patriots all the same.

    Now, that I have dispensed with the obvious, there is the larger point *****AGAIN*****, a person reading this post would assume that you are responding to some claim that I have said in the past that I am a rabid, knuckle-dragging, full blown “twoofer-type” conspiracy theorist. Now, fine, I seem to have been pointing out the inconsistencies in many of your statementsand for that, I sure that you probably don’t like me very much. But I have never said any such thing that should cause you to believe the knuckle-dragging twoofer part. (So I challenge you to PROVE IT- you can’t because no such thing has come from me!).

    But you repeat it again and again nonetheless. I assume that you are under the impression that if you say it enough, that you’ll believe it. But it is clearly libellous, and just plain dishonest.

    Its a terribly cheap shot that you are taking ***YET AGAIN*** and is easy for all people to see. I have only ever posted on this post, and one previous one.

    And yes, I have had the temerity to disagree with your small world view. But malicious, callous attacks?? No that is a behaviour I would expect from a knuckle-draging ideologue of one stripe or another.

    But I continue to be surprised that you would hold yourself open for such ridicule again and again. Each time you do it I will continue to smack you upside the head and erode your diminishing credibility of being able to present an argument without resorting to this type of tripe. Tsk tsk!

    Again – I challenge you to PROVE IT! or acknowledge that you are either a liar, or just plain careless. Which is it pumpkin?

    Then you go on to say

    All those passengers disappeared? Those videos from a dozen different sources of the planes hitting the towers faked? Demolitions crews taking down two of the largest buildings in the world in secret? And meanwhile, no leaks from the conspirators?

    as if I have at any time demonstrated that I have held that view either! I am uncertain whether that is a just a feeble minded prevarication on your part, or whether it is an outright intentional diversion from a SERIAL LIAR. I will let others judge.

    Again – stop it. And your dog too.

    We just found out last week that the CIA renditions were leaked to the press from those within the CIA who objected to the practice. The consider, any of these idiotic conspiracies would require thousands of people keeping their mouths shut in the face of seeing 3000 Americans murdered. You think that’s likely?

    Maybe your confusing me with someone else? I have never said that it was likely. Or is this part of some serial pattern of yours? Why do you keep dragging this back to a 9/11 bait/switch debate?

    That’s why I quoted Franklin. These conspiracy theories become rapidly untenable under minimal scrutiny of their physical possibility or their understanding of human behavior.

    I couldn’t agree more (probably the only sensible thing that you have said in this post!)

    But still a question:

    Before this was leaked, for the people whom suspected it and risked saying so “out loud”: weren’t they generally conveniently labelled as “conspiracy theorists”.

    Of course they were. Fine line of difference isn’t it?

  54. #54 Bronze Dog
    July 19, 2007

    On at least one part of your statement above: “the entire world as being ‘in on it.” I think you are categorically wrong on this point. *If* the entire world were in on it (or at least the continental USA as that is sadly the entire world from most America’s perspective), but *if* the entire world was in on it, then, wouldn’t that be called *democracy*?

    Someone here needs to learn something about reading comprehension and the literary/rhetorical device known as “exaggeration.” This isn’t a robot world. Some people aren’t always perfectly literal.

    The point is that the conspiracies alleged by twoofers are notable for requiring ridiculously large numbers of people. Large conspiracies are subject to leaks. Every person introduced to the conspiracy is one more potential security risk, and it usually only takes one or two to blow the whole thing.

    Stop embarrassing yourself.

    As for the whole irrelevant democracy angle, would you please stay on topic? I fail to see what the easy sway of the bulk of the population has to do with the scientific issues.

    All I see here is “He made a point! Spin it in the direction of my favorite distracting red herring and run away!”

    Typical. If this twoof movement is supposed to be a revolution or counter-revolution of some kind, I just see things staying the same for another few centuries as we slowly slide into the dim ages.

  55. #55 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Rabid Dog:

    Someone here needs to learn something about reading comprehension and the literary/rhetorical device known as “exaggeration.” This isn’t a robot world. Some people aren’t always perfectly literal.

    You might want to read the last line of my post where I graciously acknowledged your error in semantic construction.

    Stop embarrassing yourself.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    As for the whole irrelevant democracy angle, would you please stay on topic? I fail to see what the easy sway of the bulk of the population has to do with the scientific issues.

    All I see here is “He made a point! Spin it in the direction of my favorite distracting red herring and run away!”

    Well, now I know you just must be trying to have a little fun with me. Of course, I am on my topic. This *is* the topic (hint: we know this, because we are writing about it).

    And I’m not running away. Again, other people whom have dared to read this post will be able to see that I am specifically dealing with any dumbass wheel-spinning issue that you seem to bring up. Indeed, I think that it is not me doing the *spinning* and using diversionary tactics. You are being patently dishonest. Again. Sad really.

    So lets deal with this one:

    what the easy sway of the bulk of the population has to do with the scientific issues.

    Wow. Really. You mean that you don’t think the “sway” of public opinion; the lies; the prevarications; and half-truths from the powers that be (i.e. objects/targets of conspiracy theory), you don’t think these things contribute toward the proliferation of conspiracy theories? Hmmm. So then, let’s return to the originating New Scientist article:

    For canny politicians or campaigners, conspiracy theories can be a good way of exploiting people’s fears by promulgating rumours that are difficult, if not impossible, to disprove.

    I mean really, what good is any conspiracy theory without the “sway” of the gum-chewing masses?

    Surely, you can do better than that.

    (Oh, and piddling puppy, I still looking for anything with a PROVE IT! rebuttal, but I rather expect that I will never get a formal reply to that it doesn’t appear to be your style)

  56. #56 Tyler DiPietro
    July 19, 2007

    “Yes, and prima facie, I stand by that assertion. I also think that I did a more than adequate job of demonstrating why when I stated that too many people let the government erode their freedoms (Habeas Corpus, wiretapping, etc).”

    “If you get the stick out of your ass, and thing about it, a reasonable man (in the classical sense) would have to generally agree with this sentiment. Not least in America, but also other countries which are losing there freedoms at a frightening rate (Australia, Canada, England, etc).”

    More irrelevant bullshit. Yes, governments do overstep their authority, engage in criminal behavior, and generally do bad shit. Everyone here has acknowledged this. You’re so full shit it’s coming out of your ears when you say that “most people” don’t acknowledge it, and you extrapolate an absurd conclusion from the fact that most voters in this country are complacent (they could simply take government corruption as a fact of life, you know).

    “But, in summary, it would be a huge, huge, huge (and erroneous) stretch to claim that those comments meant what you falsely accused me of saying:”

    I didn’t falsely accuse of saying anything. The implication is right there in what you wrote. And by the way, you specifically mentioned this blog’s owner and his “pets”. You have a false sense of your ability to dodge to facts.

    “However, in no way does it specify that I mean that a sub-group of people who call themselves anti-theorists (or wahtever) are government lackey no-minds.”

    Give me a break, seriously. You made this comment in a thread devoted specifically to an article on why people believe in conspiracy theories.

    “But don’t try and label me as one of your anti-theorist types. I am not that. Nor an ivory towered pundit, or a creationist, or a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, or anything that might be associated with your myopic little life). I don’t compartmentalize the world into black and white; good and bad; with-us or against-us like you evidently do.”

    *Eyeroll* So I “evidently” do this? Just out of curiosity, what exact “evidence” do you have to support this. Did you do this hardcore psychoanalysis in your ass?

    “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m guessing that you don’t get out much. So, use the “world” part of the world wide web. Live a little by trying to see the world through other people’s eyes. I think it was Aristotle who said:”

    Your inability to argue with me without resorting to personal attacks is noted. BTW, you’ll notice that I haven’t posted here since last night. That’s because I was kinda, you know, out.

    And BTW, John Dean’s book deals with a smaller segment of the population that he considers “Right Wing Authoritarians”. Whether or not that is true, you’ll notice quite a bit of conspiracism from those he would consider RWA’s on the blogosphere, regarding the Associated Press and anyone who reports bad news in Iraq. You still haven’t supported you assertion about “most people” can never accept that “their government could go bad”. Your making shit up, and it’s boring.

  57. #57 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    So, here’s a short piece (vodcast) by award winning columnist / blogger Max Blumenthal. So, watch what passes for nationalists & patriots. This is from a recent National College Republican Convention (fresh meat!).

    Youtube link (aprox 7:00 minutes)

    You seem to think you’re experts at it, so you be the judge of what is a “delusion”.

    Partisan ideologues. Fundamentalists (of any stripe). Conspiracy theorists. Apologists. Tell me, after watching this representative sampling of college educated 20-somethings, do you seriously see a qualitative difference between these people whom are readily accepted into the halls / corridors of power and that group that you call wild-eyed conspiracy theorists?

    Myself, I think that there is about an equally deficient grasp of reality by the lot of them.

    Returning to this blog (not a well read or worldly successful blog in the grand scheme of things to be sure, so listen up – maybe you can learn a thing or two), and based on the feedback that I have been receiving the last couple of days (which would seriously act as a caution to potential contributors!), I suggest that your minions start culturing a wider understanding of the world than that very, very narrow science-based utopia you hold. Accept that other realities exist (see Ted, or John Carter). Some of them are *real*, at least in the sense that they can effect the lives of you and the ones that you may love. How can you get more *real* than that!

    Admittedly, of this utopian view I accuse you of, we *all wish* that all societies held it, but as a species, we clearly are not there that is not the real world. *sigh* And not understanding this simple reality *is* delusional.

    So, regarding that you ill-directed venom at what you call twoofers (or me!), I suggest that you start channelling it to more reality-based and effectual pursuits. Start researching and sharing more real-world information. Casting a much wider net to include the groups that actually hold at least an iota of real, raw power. Or else it like a form of intellectual masterbation.

    I wonder, in a line-up, could you even identify who that might be? Or are you so protected by your insular little world view that you could not?

    Surely, by now you must realize that most real conspiracy theorists would never be accepted in the corridors of any real power. So save your strength for what matters. Poke your sharp shiny sticks at the real hornets nests.

    If you think your smart enough to identify where / what it is.

    Hey, I’m just sayin’

  58. #58 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Tyler DiPietro:

    More irrelevant bullshit. Yes, governments do overstep their authority

    So. You say it is irrelevant bullshit, but then you agree with it? Hmmm (and the rest of this post-of-venom continues in the same manner).

    Laddy, if brains were gasoline, and you were a racecar, you couldn’t power yourself around the inside of a cheerio.

  59. #59 Tyler DiPietro
    July 19, 2007

    “So. You say it is irrelevant bullshit, but then you agree with it?”

    And I’ll take non-sequitors for $1000, Alex.

    You are without a shadow of a doubt the most boring poster I’ve ever taken on. It’s been mildly entertaining watching you get so flustered that you can’t see the irony of these two statements being made in direct succession…

    “(and the rest of this post-of-venom continues in the same manner).

    Laddy, if brains were gasoline, and you were a racecar, you couldn’t power yourself around the inside of a cheerio.”

    …but I’m getting somewhat tired of shooting fish in a barrel. You are in dire need of an irony meter.

  60. #60 Bronze Dog
    July 19, 2007

    So. You say it is irrelevant bullshit, but then you agree with it? Hmmm

    Yes, the price of tea in China is too high. What’s that got to do with the topic?

    Or is that too expressive and non-literal for you to comprehend?

    Laddy, if brains were gasoline, and you were a racecar, you couldn’t power yourself around the inside of a cheerio.

    Ooooo, devastating. Does your mommy know that you’re on the internet? At least our ad homenims serve a purpose of pointing out your logical fallacies.

    (not a well read or worldly successful blog in the grand scheme of things to be sure

    American Idol is not a model of epistemology.

    I suggest that your minions start culturing a wider understanding of the world than that very, very narrow science-based utopia you hold.

    Oh, you mean other ways of knowing like towing The Party line, faith in the holy texts, or whatever makes you feel good?

    The Secret is not a model of epistemology, either.

    Accept that other realities exist (see Ted, or John Carter). Some of them are *real*, at least in the sense that they can effect the lives of you and the ones that you may love. How can you get more *real* than that!

    Yup. Thought so. Translation: Blind faith rules! Evidence, schemvidence. Why talk about evidence when you can make all sorts of wild conjectures and never have to defend them? Why bother with that whole “logic” thing when you can evade, evade, evade?

    So, regarding that you ill-directed venom at what you call twoofers (or me!), I suggest that you start channelling it to more reality-based and effectual pursuits. Start researching and sharing more real-world information. Casting a much wider net to include the groups that actually hold at least an iota of real, raw power. Or else it like a form of intellectual masterbation.

    You speak as if you were the only thing I’ve ever commented about. I only spend some leisure time because it’s fun to watch yet another cookie-cutter woo without an original argument in his arsenal. You aren’t the least bit special.

    I suggest you study up on propaganda so that you can catch yourself using it to distract us from problems in the real world with a phantom Wizard of Oz. But you won’t. Just like every other woo out there, you avoid doing anything but parroting mindless, sheeple arguments the same as every unenlightening verbal political “debate” that’s heavy on spin and light on facts.

    Get back to me after one of your omnipotent, unopposable government spooks beats the JREF Paranormal Challenge. You may not call it supernatural like those homeopaths, but the absurdities you invoke can only be described as such.

  61. #61 tsk_tsk
    July 19, 2007

    Bronze Dog (or your royal self idolating Golden-Calf as it were):

    It really is a shame that this blog isn’t better read by a balanced audience. Small wonder why! But if it were, I rather expect that that, excepting your two or three like-minded sycophants, if that indeed *is* the right word (“minded” I mean), excepting them, you have pretty much no support for your assertions and attacks. (This is *not to say* that the hallmark or solid, rational reasoning is wrong its just “you”).

    Again, I will repeat it in case you selectively read over this

    (Oh, and piddling puppy, I still looking for anything with a PROVE IT! rebuttal, but I rather expect that I will never get a formal reply to that it doesn’t appear to be your style)

    Again, thanks ever-so-much for so far proving my point.

    Thanks for all the fish.

  62. #62 Brian
    July 20, 2007

    “It really is a shame that this blog isn’t better read by a balanced audience.”

    You mean it’s a shame there aren’t more people here who feel the same way you do. Unless you hold the majority opinion, most of the people in a balanced audience SHOULD disagree with you. That you continue to think otherwise is beyond puzzling.

    I wouldn’t have said anything, but you quoted Douglas Adams in the midst of your rant (though, fortunately, his grave was installed with auto-rollers).

  63. #63 tsk_tsk
    July 20, 2007

    Brian:

    Ooops, I misspoke. I indeed meant a “wider” audience. Frankly Scarlet, I couldn’t give a damn whether you agree or disagree with me. Why should I? Indeed, for all people that have ever been on my payroll I have made one thing abundantly clear: if two people agree all the time, one of them is unnecessary. And since I own company, it sure as hell ain’t me that’s out the door!

    Amazing how that can stimulate disagreement.

  64. #64 Bob Whiteman
    July 20, 2007

    I can’t resist a post here, you said something that can’t let go unopposed, you said:
    “Conspiracy theorists are seeking to prove something they want to believe. Instead of scientifically following a stream of facts to a rational conclusion they collect bits and pieces and oddments, not to synthesize a robust alternative explanation, but more to crap on an official version or more cohesive theories.”
    Maybe, I guess it depends on your definition of a conspiracy theorist. So by that definition I’m not one.

    Sometimes something happens in my experience that I don’t understand, so I check it out and collect/collate facts so as to come to a fact-based conclusion. Such was the case of the 9-11 tragedy. Since many facts defied or contradicted logic, I sought to prove to myself that no American President would sacrifice 3000 innocent American lives to further his agenda. So, my mission was to support the popular conspiracy theory, the cave-dwellers-with-box-cutters one. The more I learned from personal research, the more I found that disproved this. The conclusion I came to after 4 years of research was not what I’d hoped to find, it’s a conclusion I really didn’t want to draw.

  65. #65 TTT
    July 20, 2007

    Of course, we mustn’t lose sight of the conspiracy humbug peddled by people who have a very comfortable amount of economic influence and power either. Particularly global warming denialism and creationism.

  66. #66 Lab Lemming
    July 21, 2007

    Pardon me if I missed something by skipping the flame war in comments, but are there any popular conspiracies in which the perps are not both infallable and omniscient?

  67. #67 Jan J David
    October 25, 2009

    It is common to call people who don’t believe the official explanation of what happened.All has their own opinion in everything…life’s full of many unpleasant and pleasant thins to talk about…what you think on every situation going on…if you also need to know how economic and stock market you can also check here…Hot Penny Stocks
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